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.


Machine cycle time

Machine cycle time is the time that a machine needs to produce a unit, including loading and unloading.


The mentee is the so-called student of the > mentor.


The term mentor goes back to Homer’s saga, The Odyssey: Mentor was the advisor to Odysseus and the friend of Telemachus. Telemachus saw him as an uncle, a wise and experienced older person who took him under his wing, providing him with encouragement and support and allowing him to grow into his responsibilities. In the world of lean, the mentor strives to improve the competencies of his / her charge and thereby improve the level of problem-solving and improvement within the organization. As opposed to a coach, the mentor has expertise and the power of judgement, which is then passed on to the > mentee.

Milk run

The term milk run comes from the U.S., where a bottle of milk was only delivered to a home if an empty bottle was awaiting pickup on the doorstep. This ensured that the home never had too much milk and that it wouldn’t go bad. The term milk run is used to describe a certain logistics concept. The key is to speed up delivery flow and increase delivery frequency without increasing freight costs. Deliveries are no longer made one-by-one by each supplier in a star shape, but rather, are done as a closed loop where several suppliers are connected to the recipient.

Minimarket principle

A minimarket is a small storage area from which the user can take parts, often located directly in the workstation, and which is supplied by the supermarket.


Japanese for water bug

Mizusumashi is the employee responsible for supplying a workstation and keeping production going without interruption.

Model mix

A defined order that ensures smooth production.

MTM (Methods Time Measurement)

MTM is a process used to analyze work processes and determine planning and target times. When applying MTM, all movements carried out by people are broken up into the basic movements, to determine the standard required time. The individual times are then used to determine the time required for an entire work process.


Japanese for waste

All processes that relate to the product and do not increase the value of the it.

7 types of waste: > overproduction, > inventory, defects, motion, transport over-processing, waiting.


Japanese for lack of uniformity

> Waste (> muda) can lead to imbalance that affects process quality, costs and delivery dates.


Japanese for unreasonable, impossible, overburdened

Muri is the overburdening of all types of resources (equipment, operators), and results in wear and production downtime.