• Ben Roush

The Lean Journey: 3P – Pre-Production Preparation

Updated: Apr 26

Creating Lean begins with Genesis: The Creation, or Beginnings of Origin.


The 3P process stands for Pre-Production Preparation process. It’s used for designing the production line in advance and enforcing the lean tools from the start. It is a workshop approach with a heavy emphasis on the engineering group and its' associated support cast.


Driving waste out from the beginning and by design can be done successfully if, and when, you do your homework. That means listing engineering information like customer demand rates, capacity planning tables, and cycle time sheets for both machines and operators. Also, don’t forget to list your current quality issues so you can put your nagging issues to bed forever. Remember, our goal is to use the minimum amount of equipment, labor, and space.


Broadening your 3P Participation with Suppliers and Integrators.


We have been very successful in this and sent the bid package out to all of the participants two weeks later. If they want consideration, then we want free processing input up front, even with their competitors in the same room. You may need to have this discussion with your integrators and suppliers at the start, so they completely understand the process you are asking them to support. Just remember, the more closed you are up front, the more you limit your opportunities.


Establishing True Takt Time Early is one of the Biggest Challenges.


The customer often demands 15% overspeed in this process, above and beyond the peak volumes. What does our operating pattern look like when matching up to this takt time? Is that an opportunity? If you want to run this process two shifts, four days per week, then you need to go back to the intent of the takt time calculation. Why not try to improve on your existing costs by 30% to start? Sometimes the actual takt time calculation can take the entire first day of the workshop. It's Time to find it out now.

Call your customer at the plant level and find out what his real run rate and pattern is going to be. Our sales and program management folks can sometimes receive clouded information and not know any better. Our experience is that many individuals in our organizations can bump this number up by 30-40%, and still have no idea what that means in the competitive landscape.


Millions of Dollars of Overspeed in our Capital.


The truth is that everyone in our current process wants to protect the end result with overspeed. Our engineering standards can be up to 15% over the actuals. The standard data sets with use for robot times, weld times, and transfer times could have been significantly underestimated based on reality. This is one reason we should do this activity at the plant level. Let’s go out to the floor and take a look at what the truth is. Also, our integrators want to protect the program with typical 5-10% natural overspeed or utilization in robot, welding, adhesive, and transfer mechanisms.


The “Wishful Thinking” Trap.


The sales group wants to let you know that the customer could piggyback this product line in 15 months with product XYZ and we should add capacity now for such an event. They are not concerned with the floor space, capital, or wasted labor in such a decision. All they are thinking of is if we do this now, we can all sleep at night when it happens. Sounds like they need a lesson on the daily wastes associated with overspeed, and overproduction. Do they have a vested interest in this decision at this point in time? Don’t let it happen! Get your lean on!


Use of Shop Floor Simulation on Current or Similar Processes.


Be prepared to support this engineering workshop; with try-out space, cardboard, duct tape, a miscellaneous table, stop watches, the lean tools listed below, and current examples of your product. We use hours of discreet videos, taken in advance, to look at current bottleneck scenarios.

Tools inherently used in a good 3P plan include the following:


a. Product Design as known

b. Takt Time Calculation Sheet

c. Process-at-a-Glance Sheets; to rough out the process for both current state and future states

d. Manufacturing Flow Chart

e. Current Off Standard Conditions, as known, on product and process

f. Standard Work Layout Sheet

g. Standard Combination Sheet, as listed above

h. Capacity Planning Table


*We have found the standard combination sheet especially useful at this stage of line design because it specifically identifies wait times for the operators based on captured machine cycle times.


Organizational Development Opportunity:


Want to really put a strategic turbo on your lean journey? Pick the apples right off the tree and put together your team now. There is no better time to give your organization a strategic advantage in your lean journey. Start by identifying and selecting some high-potential personnel and assigning them to the 3P process directly and up front. After that level of participation what’s next for them?

Can you envision the following scenario?


After hand picking some high potential colleagues, both in management and key hourly folks. You then assign them to participate in the 3P process to help design the new lines. Next, you assign them to a leadership role on the advance launch team, where they will work at the assignment machine builders or integrators to support the follow-up. They'll be listing standards like the FMEA, critical checks, control plans, error proofing, and changeover processes. Finally, you'll have them launch these lines at the plant for a 1-2 year period to experience what it takes to “launch and run a lean environment.”


You now have a seasoned group of human Infrastructure that gets it and can pick up the ball at any point in time and improve the process for today and tomorrow. You have given them an exponential growth opportunity in the new model, launch, and lean worlds, and they will be forever grateful to you.


Do you incorporate Takt time into your capital plan? Why not?


We at Dynamic Improvement Group are here to help you with the 3P process in moving forward.


Contact Us Today!​​​


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