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"The efficient microscope of Lean Manufacturing has allowed us to streamline our production processes significantly.  By focusing primarily on those things necessary and useful, we are working to manufacture products in a more concise, resourceful and creative manner.  These strategies have led to increased consistencies, smoother operations and timesaving process."
Gary Walton, CEO/President

From the office to the shop floor, Process Improvement can benefit any company in any industry by decreasing costs, shortening lead times, reducing defects, and minimizing inventory, resulting in increased capacity, improved customer satisfaction and higher profits.

We can provide any level of process improvement assistance, from a fully customized solution to training and guidance in any of the tools and techniques. Whether your company is just getting started or is well into their Process Improvement journey, we can help you achieve your next level of excellence.

Process Improvement Tools and Techniques

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5S:Workplace Organization

A series of activities designed to improve workplace organization and standardization.  Standardization in the workplace simplifies everyday activities leading to time-saving improvements.  The 5S activities are to:

  • Sort through all items and remove unneeded items
  • Set in order all remaining items, set limits, create temporary location indicators
  • Shine or clean everything and use cleaning as inspection
  • Standardize the first 3 S's by implementing visual displays and controls
  • Sustain the gains through self-discipline, training, communication, and total employee involvement

Click here to download a 5S poster with more information.

A3 Problem Solving

A structured approach to resolving problems by getting to the root cause. Using an A3 report, the user thoroughly defines and understands the issue, addresses it with improvement, and manages the corrections.


The act of adding a mechanical device to a machine that allows it to operate with reduced, non-continuous input from an operator. This allows the operator to do other tasks while the machine is running, thus eliminating the waste of underutilized employees.

Capacity Analysis

The analysis of factors such as productivity, staffing, hours of operations, equipment limitations, defects, setup time requirements, and equipment maintenance requirements to determine the amount a given group, team, or individual can produce.

Cellular Manufacturing

The arrangement of machines and stations in close proximity to enable flow for a single product or product group.

Facility Layout

Positioning machines and work areas sequentially based on the steps required to build a particular product in order to minimize wastes and implement flow.

Lean Manufacturing

A systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste (non-value-added activities) through continuous improvement by flowing the product at the pull of the customer in pursuit of perfection. It encompasses a group of tools and philosophies that combine to build a system that provides value to the customer, improves quality, reduces lead time, and enhances productivity.

Lean Office

A systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste (non-value-added activities) in administrative activities through continuous improvement by flowing the product at the pull of the customer in pursuit of perfection. It encompasses a group of tools and philosophies that combine to build a system that provides value to the customer, improves quality, reduces lead time, and enhances productivity.

Lean Six Sigma

The combination of Lean and Six Sigma into a single philosophy in order to leverage the strengths of both. Lean is commonly thought of as a way to improve process speed, while Six Sigma is primarily considered a quality tool.


The use of simple devices, fixtures and procedures to eliminate errors and ensure 100% defect free products.

Point-of-Use Storage

The practice of storing inventory at the point where it will be used instead of in a central warehouse.

Pull Systems

A system in which items are only made or withdrawn when there is demand from a downstream customer. A kanban is the signal that gives the instruction on what to do based on the downstream customer’s activities. The kanban is very customizable based on the need, for instance it can be a location on a floor, a cart, or a pallet.

Quality at the Source

When operators are given the means to perform inspection at the source, before they pass it along. A final inspection station is not required when quality at the source is used.

Setup Reduction

A tool used to review a setup in order to minimize the downtime. It involves changing over a process to produce a different product in the most efficient manner.

Standard Work

An agreed upon set of work procedures that establish the best sequence for each process within Takt Time while minimizing work in process. It enables a job to be completed by the best current method to meet customer demand without waste.

Total Productive Maintenance

A method used to keep equipment producing only good product, as fast as possible with no unplanned downtime by focusing on 8 Pillars:

  • Planned Maintenance
  • Autonomous Maintenance
  • Early Equipment Management
  • Focused Improvement
  • Quality
  • Health & Safety
  • Training & Education
  • TPM in the Office

Toyota Production System (TPS)

A management philosophy combining Just-in-Time Manufacturing and Jidoka. Just-In-Time refers to the manufacturing and conveyance of only “what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed.” Jidoka refers to the ability to stop production lines, by man or machine, in the event of problems such as equipment malfunction, quality issues, or late work.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

A technique used to analyze and design the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer. Once the product family is identified, the current method, to include information and material flow, is documented. With this information, a future state map is created, as well as an implementation plan. The benefits of completing a Value Stream Map are to:

  • Visually communicate processes
  • Improve ability to scrutinize business processes
  • Highlight areas of opportunity
  • Provide insight into the decision making process
  • Measure process efficiencies
  • Create a vision

Visual Management

A technique where information is communicated by using visual signals instead of texts or other written instructions. The design is deliberate in allowing quick recognition of the information being communicated, in order to increase efficiency and clarity.

Work Measurement

Involves finding out how long a job or part of a job should take to complete. The standard times are necessary to:

  • Plan the work of a workforce
  • Staff jobs, to decide how many workers it would need to complete certain jobs
  • Schedule the tasks allocated to people
  • Cost the work for estimating contract prices

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Success Stories

TMAC South Central

Texas cities in the South Central TMAC Region include: Austin, Georgetown, New Braunfels, Round Rock, San Angelo, San Antonio, San Marcos, Seguin, Temple, Uvalde, Victoria, and Waco.

Related Terminology

lean manufacturing  •  lean healthcare  •  six sigma  •  green belt and black belt certification  •  5S: workplace organization  •  A3 problem solving  •  automation  •  capacity analysis  •  cellular manufacturing  •  facility layout  •  lean manufacturing  •  lean office  •  lean six sigma  •  mistake-proofing  •  point-of-use storage  •  kanban  •  pull systems  •  quality at the source  •  setup reduction  •  standard work  •  total productive maintenance (TPM)  •  toyota production system (TPS)  •  value stream mapping  •  visual management  •  work measurement

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.