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What are 3P LEAN Methods?

3P (Production, Preparation, Process) is a methodology used in various industries, particularly in manufacturing and healthcare, to improve processes and enhance product quality. Most LEAN methods are designed to improve previously established processes, with the end goal of producing more efficiently and eliminating waste. Lean 3P (or Production, Preparation, Process) does not improve existing processes but eliminates waste by-products and process design.

This is a powerful tool for manufacturing and should only be used by organizations that have had previous experience with LEAN manufacturing methods such as Kaizen or 5S. 3P’s concurrent development allows product design to have an impact on its manufacturing process. This in turn generates new insights that can be used to improve or streamline the product’s production. These insights are easier to implement in 3P because they come during the design phase rather than the production phase. Reworking a production process to make it more efficient can cost substantial amounts of money and may require the shutdown of production.

Understanding 3P (Production, Preparation, Process)

What does 3P mean?
What does 3P mean?

3P can be described as an event-driven method for simultaneously developing new products, and the standards and workflows to support them. This is a way to elevate product design and production.

3P’s concurrent process for development allows product design to determine the production processes. This allows 3P to gather insights that can be used to improve products and processes. These insights can be applied immediately, which allows organizations to reduce costs, save time, and provide better solutions for consumers.

What is the Origin of 3P?

Chihiro Nagao, founder and current of Shingijutsu Consulting, introduced the 3P model. Nakao called this lean manufacturing approach “Breakthrough, or transformational changes in the production process using unique problem-solving methods”.

Originated in Japan as a part of the Toyota Production System (TPS) or Toyota Way, which is renowned for its innovative manufacturing techniques and emphasis on continuous improvement. Toyota, especially renowned for its Lean Manufacturing principles, focused on eliminating waste, improving efficiency, and optimizing processes in manufacturing. The 3P methodology emerged as a structured approach to support these goals by emphasizing proactive planning and design.

When to Use The 3P Methodology?

The 3P (Production, Preparation, Process) methodology is suitable for various scenarios and industries where there’s a need for innovation, process improvement, or the development of new products or services. Here are specific situations when using the 3P methodology is beneficial:

  • New Product Development: When developing a new product or service, implementing 3P helps in the early stages of planning and designing. It allows teams to ideate, prototype, and test different concepts before full-scale production, reducing the risk of errors and enhancing the final product’s quality.
  • Process Improvement: If an organization wants to improve existing processes, optimize workflows, or redesign layouts for better efficiency and productivity, 3P can be utilized. It assists in analyzing current processes, identifying bottlenecks, and designing more effective methods.
  • Lean Manufacturing Initiatives: In lean manufacturing environments, where minimizing waste and enhancing value are critical, 3P methodology can be employed to redesign processes and eliminate non-value-added activities.
  • Healthcare and Service Industries: 3P is also applicable in healthcare and service industries. For instance, hospitals might use this methodology to design better patient care processes, optimize layouts, or create more efficient administrative systems.
  • Cross-functional Projects: When undertaking cross-functional projects involving multiple departments or disciplines, 3P encourages collaboration and brings diverse expertise together to solve complex problems or innovate solutions.
  • Large-scale Changes or Facility Design: During major changes such as facility design, expansion, or relocation, 3P can assist in planning layouts, workflows, and logistics to ensure optimized utilization of space and resources.
  • Complex Problem-Solving Scenarios: In situations where conventional problem-solving methods might not suffice, 3P provides a structured approach to tackle complex issues through creativity and innovation.

It’s important to consider the resources, time, and commitment required before employing the 3P methodology. It’s most effective when there’s a commitment from leadership, adequate team involvement, and sufficient resources allocated to support the process. Additionally, it’s beneficial to use 3P in situations where the potential benefits of innovation and process improvement outweigh the initial investment and time required for implementation.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 3P

What are the advantages of 3P?
What are the advantages of 3P?

Advantages of 3P:

  • Innovation and creativity: 3P encourages teams to brainstorm and generate innovative ideas to design and develop new products or improve existing ones. It fosters a creative environment that can lead to breakthrough solutions.
  • Cost-effectiveness: By involving cross-functional teams early in the process, 3P aims to identify and address potential issues in the design phase. This can result in cost savings by preventing costly changes or fixes later in the production process.
  • Efficient processes: 3P focuses on optimizing processes for efficiency and effectiveness. It helps in designing layouts, workflows, and systems that reduce waste, improve productivity, and streamline operations.
  • Team collaboration and engagement: The methodology involves multidisciplinary teams working together, fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing among different departments or individuals. This collaborative effort often leads to better solutions and a sense of ownership among team members.
  • Quality improvement: By thoroughly planning and designing processes, 3P aims to enhance the overall quality of the product or service, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Disadvantages of 3P:

  • Time-consuming: The 3P process, involving ideation, planning, prototyping, and validation, can be time-consuming. It may require significant time and resources upfront, which can impact the speed of product development or process improvement.
  • Resource-intensive: Implementing 3P often demands substantial resources, including personnel, time, equipment, and materials. Not all organizations may have the necessary resources readily available to dedicate to this intensive process.
  • Resistance to change: Introducing new methodologies like 3P might face resistance from employees accustomed to traditional approaches. Adapting to a new way of working and thinking can be challenging for some team members, affecting the pace of implementation.
  • Initial investment and risk: There might be an initial investment required for training, tools, and technology to support the 3P methodology. Additionally, as with any new approach, there’s a risk that the anticipated improvements might not be achieved as expected.
  • Complexity and adaptability: Complex products or processes may pose challenges in applying 3P effectively. Some systems might not easily adapt to the methodology, requiring adjustments or alternative approaches.

While 3P offers numerous benefits in terms of innovation, cost reduction, and process efficiency, its implementation may encounter challenges related to time, resources, resistance to change, initial investment, and adaptability to complex systems. Successful implementation often depends on careful planning, adequate resources, and strong leadership support to overcome these potential drawbacks.

Launching a 3P Initiative

What is 3P in Lean?
What is 3P in Lean?

3P is one of the most powerful LEAN tools. It can unlock innovation, accelerate learning, and improve collaboration. Organizations that have used 5S or Kaizen methods will be more likely to succeed with 3P.

These are some things you should know before you launch a 3P Lean initiative.

  • Before you do anything, get to know your customers and what they want from you.
  • Describe the scope and objectives of your project. What are you hoping to achieve?
  • Don’t focus on the current processes. Instead, visualize your ideal state and decide if 3P is the best approach to achieving it. This practice is most useful in situations like changes in demand, the creation of a new space, or the development of a new product line.
  • 3P, like 5S and Kaizen events, works best when there is a deadline. Events typically last around a week. However, there is no time limit.

What are the Steps in a LEAN 3P Event?

Identify Product/Process Design Objectives/Needs: The team aims to identify the customer’s core needs. The project team will break down any product or prototype into its parts and the raw materials to determine the role each has.

Diagramming: To show the flow of raw material to the finished product, a fishbone diagram is used or another type of illustration. The project team analyzes each diagram or illustration and brainstorms keywords (e.g. roll, rotate form bend) to describe any change (or “transformation”) that occurs at each branch.

Draw and evaluate the process: Each member of the sub-team is expected to create a unique way to complete the task. Each sketch is evaluated, and the top is selected (alongside any other good features) for a mockup.

Prototypes for Build, Present, and Select Process: The team designs and evaluates the process. They spend several days, if necessary, working with various mock-ups to make sure they meet the criteria.

Review of Design: After a selected concept is refined, it is presented for feedback to a wider group (including original product designers).

Create a Plan for Project Implementation: The team chooses the project leader to help determine the timeline, process, and allocation of responsibilities.