Glossary of Lean Management and Supply Chain Management terms

For mutual understanding: short definitions of important terms from the world of continuous improvement and Supply Chain Management


Click on one of the letters beneath to check the glossary for terms beginning with that letter.



The term A3 report comes from the name of the paper size used to prepare the report (close in size to the U.S. 11 x 17-inch sheet). Its structure is influenced by the > PDCA-method. The best-known A3 report is the problem-solving report. It explains how the A3 report will support the problem-solving process. In this case, the user takes the standards through a systematic process that makes it possible to describe the symptoms that have emerged. It is assumed that the cause is not known, but that the effect is evident. The next (interim) target condition is to be verbalized by the processor – and should not just include the desired development of parameters. As compared to other techniques, the goal is to train the processor to describe the interim steps needed to achieve the objective. The knowledge and the description are as important as the objective to be reached. A mentor should encourage the processing and develop the mentee through targeted questions. This ensures that the A3 report is not just used to “put out fires”.


Japanese for „lamp“

Andon is a visual signal that indicates when there is a problem.


An audit is done to verify whether processes, requirements or guidelines meet the required standards. This verification process finds its roots in quality management, but has recently been applied to many other fields of management (e.g. environmental management value creation systems, etc.). Audits are carried out by an auditor who has been trained in this field.

Auto unloading

jap. Hanedashi

The term auto unloading indicates that each machine automatically unloads the part, so that all the operator only has to load the machine. > Chaku-Chaku line


Japanese Jidoka

Autonomation is a combination of the words automation and autonomous and refers to automation with a human touch. It is less a method or a tool and more an operating principle. Every machine in the work process should be able to operate without being constantly watched by an operator, and, if there is an abnormality, i.e. if a component breaks, it should shut off automatically, so that no defective parts are introduced further down the line. Autonomation is one of the two pillars of the Toyota production system and is also referred to as “intelligent” automation, as it, in contrast to total automation, places quality and the ability to self-operate in the foreground, rather than focusing on output.