3P and Lean

Lean on Steroids

If you’re looking for a way to boost your lean and take your lean team to the next level, then look no further.

3P (Production Preparation Process) is typically seen by lean experts around the globe as one of the most powerful and advanced manufacturing tools you can add to your lean methods. It’s a rigorous, structured process that allows organizations to focus on eliminating the possibility of waste through product and process design.

While it might be a bit overwhelming for someone just getting their minds wrapped around the lean methodology, 3P can however, be beneficial to anyone who has already successfully implemented lean methods and is looking for more.

Leaps and Bounds

Ultimately, 3P is designed to meet customer requirements by starting with a clean product development slate. From here you can quickly create and test potential product and process designs that require the least time, material, and capital resources. It’s a method that typically results in products that are less complex, easier to manufacture, easier to use, and easier to maintain.

While kaizen and other lean methods focus on continuous, incremental improvement over time, 3P is designed to make drastic improvements rapidly. The idea is to have a system that can potentially make leaps and bounds in your design improvements, allowing you to improve performance and eliminate waste at a level beyond what your existing process provides.

The 3P Method

3P is an event driven process involving a diverse group (3P team) of individuals who generally gather for a few days with a singular focus on a particular task. The goal of the 3P event is to develop a process or product design that meets customer requirements best, in the “least waste way.”

Alan Coletta, author of the book The Lean 3P Advantage: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Production Preparation Process is major advocate for a lean and 3P collaboration. In a recent interview Coletta discussed the benefits 3P offered.

Previously, lean had been largely relegated to fixing existing problems in our manufacturing plants. 3P takes lean principles upstream in the new product development arena, and applies them liberally at the point in the process where they can have the most influence on both product and operation.

-Allan Coletta

Coletta’s award winning book provides great insight into the process of combining the lean and 3p ideologies. He includes case studies that help explain how and why the 3P Lean Design Process is an extremely effective tool to have.

The following is an example of the 3P method in action:

  • Define Product or Process Design Objectives/Needs: The 3P team seeks to understand the core customer needs that need to be met. If a product or prototype is available break it down into component parts and raw materials to assess the function that each play.
  • Diagramming: A diagram or some type of illustration is created to demonstrate the flow from raw material to finished product. The 3P team then is able to analyze each branch of the diagram or illustration and brainstorm key words (e.g. roll, rotate, form, bend) made at each branch.
  • Find and Analyze Examples in Nature: Your 3P team can now look for examples of each key word analyzed in the natural world. The team places a heavy emphasis on how nature works versus how the current process works and studies the information accordingly. From here, the team has the information to discuss ways to implement the natural process into the given manufacturing process step.
  • Sketch and Evaluate the Process: New sub-teams are formed and each new member is required to draw different ways to accomplish the process in question. Each one can then be analyzed to determine the best possible mock-up.
  • Build, Present, and Select Process Prototypes: The team can now focus on the mock-up and evaluate the chosen process, taking the time to work with different variations of the mock-up to ensure it will meet expectations.
  • Hold Design Review:  After a concept has been selected for additional improvement, it can be presented to a larger group (including the original designers) for feedback.
  • Develop Project Implementation Plan: If at decision is made to move forward with the project the team picks a implementation leader who determines the schedule, process, resource requirements, and distribution of responsibilities for completion.

3P provides an atmosphere that promotes rapid learning, collaboration, and innovation that other ideologies can’t provide. Whether your trying to improve an existing product or develop a new one, regardless of the size, 3P can help.

For more information watch the video below from the Gemba Academy on 3P and healthcare facility design and good luck with your 3P and Lean integration.

Source information: epa.gov

Additional Resources