3P Lean : Exploring the Production Preparation Process

In relation to modern management systems, especially lean, the amount of components that go into it are almost innumerable.

Although I am much more familiar with 5S, kaizen, and many of the other integral building blocks of the total lean package, I have to say that I am enjoying reading up on the more obscure (but no less important) 3P lean, also known as  the Production Preparation Process.

I’m amazed at this type of lean manufacturing, in the idea that it tries to be lean from the very beginning : namely, in product  and/or process design.  If you design a product to be less wasteful and to avoid certain additional steps in the production process from BEFORE it is even created, that is the ultimate concept of lean.

When developing a product, practitioners have a multi-day (sometimes) 3p event in which they develop, mock-up, and anticipate problems and strengths in the process.

According to the manufacturing website, TXM.com.au, The basic steps of a 3P event is as follows:

  1. Define theme and scope of your project: Think about what you wish to accomplish, not what is currently being done.
  2. Use keywords to define Functions (Roll, Lock, Drill, swivel…)
  3. Develop Sketch options: Sketch examples, examine, research and work as a group to look deeply into the functions required.
  4. Evaluate the Process:  Each of the sketches is evaluated to a set criteria.
  5. Build:  Build full scale mockups of the top three sketches and evaluate.
  6. Conduct trials: Perform trials on mockup to collect real time data, combine the best features and evaluate each proposal.
  7. Proceed to Trail:  Have the final design mockup tested by more of the production team to review and improve on any missing ideas.
  8. Proceed to implement new process: Develop the action plan for proceeding after the 3P team finished.

I think this is so smart.  I mean, to make a product from the beginning with the manufacturing process thought out gives such an advantage compared to designing a product and then trying to find workarounds, and going through so many extra steps.  The former makes so much more sense.