Lean Manufacturing

The Top 5 Reasons for Using Production Preparation Process (3P)

By Jon Miller Published on May 1st, 2006

Last week we had the opportunity to give an online presentation to an automobile manufacturer on the Production Preparation Process (3P) and the top 5 reasons for using it. We discussed the impact Production Preparation Process can have on cutting total cost out of the supply chain. There is also a supplier development benefit since 3P workshops are hands-on processes to review both the process and product designs. It builds awareness of Lean manufacturing and builds buy in since formerly “off limits” design issues can be addressed.
Before we get to the top 5 reasons for using Production Preparation Process I’ll share a quick overview of 3P for those of you to whom it may be new.
Production Preparation Process (3P) is one part of an overall Lean design approach that includes QFD, design reviews, and post-start up monitoring by a cross functional team to kaizen any bugs in the new system. The benefits of Production Preparation Process are a cross-functional team approach, rapid testing of ideas and the embedding of Lean manufacturing principles into process and product design.
In 3P designers work within a team to think through various alternative designs and process options and eliminate the inferior ones. Of course this requires knowledge of certain Lean manufacturing parameters of design based on TPS principles which are summarized as 16 Catch Phrases.
A pen and paper mapping of alternatives called Process At A Glance is used to consider alternative methods, rather than selecting equipment and process solutions out of a catalog. The top alternative process method is then mocked up in 3D using available materials such as wood, cardboard, and duct tape to try it out right away.
The chosen alternative is designed for Lean manufacturing because questions are asked along the way to make sure that Lean concepts are not being violated. Based on this preparations are made for equipment is design and build as well as Standard Work documentation.
This Production Preparation Process is in contrast to the traditional approach of selecting a single design early and “throwing it over the wall” to manufacturing. The result of the traditional design approach is that process capability fails to meet requirements, promised production volumes are not achieved at start up, cells may be designed but material handling process may not be considered, work instructions may be incomplete, target costs are not met after start up, etc.
Most people do 3P to solve one or more of these pains with new product start up. Some do it to minimize equipment cost or to design processes to enable one-piece flow. If you have these pains, you can make a rule to use Production Preparation Process whenever you see one of the top 5 reasons:
1. New product development. Educate designers in Lean as early as possible.
2. Capital expenditure approval. Don’t sign a Cap Ex without doing 3P first. Period.
3. Product design changes. Approve no changes without a 3P review.
4. Significant changes in volume. You didn’t design the process Lean, but here’s your second chance.
5. Relocation of processes. If you’re going to pick it up and move it anyway, you might as well Lean it out first.
There’s time for a bonus question from the audience: What types of parts or products are most suited for Production Preparation Process (3P)?
The answer to this is nearly identical to “what types of parts or products are most suited for Lean?” Anything that has a lot of complexity in it is a good candidate. The more components, materials, processes, transactions, etc. that are required to produce and deliver a part, the more opportunity there is to make drastic improvements through 3P by reconsidering alternative methods to do it the Lean way.
Another way to put this is that the closer you are to “basic science” or a simple process such as injection molding, the less opportunity you have to consider new methods. A stamped, machined, painted and welded assembly on the other hand offers more opportunity to consider alternative process options and cut out waste. Last but not least, the best product or process to apply 3P is where there is a high running cost. Kaizen must make money.

  1. Ben Royal

    May 2, 2006 - 10:35 am

    16 catch phrases?

  2. Jon Miller

    May 2, 2006 - 7:41 pm

    Hi Ben.
    Please see the next post.

  3. Vic Srambikal

    May 6, 2006 - 12:26 pm

    Nicely written. I have been using 3P in a different form involving a combination of Group Technology and Cellular Manufacturing. Right sized equipment needs to replace mass production monuments (in a way this brings us back to SPM’s). Lean Leads The Way….

  4. Apoorva

    October 25, 2006 - 12:06 am

    can you please let me know that generally how many alternative solutions are worked out in 3P

  5. Jon Miller

    October 25, 2006 - 10:19 pm

    Hi Apoorva. Here is the answer to your question: link

  6. Chris

    December 21, 2007 - 10:10 pm

    Looking for 3P training/workshop. Would you be able to suggest a high quality training source?
    Best Regards,
    Chris Schoenwald

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