The Production Preparation Process (3P), a powerful tool for taking a large-picture view of how products are designed and manufactured, is powerful. It helps teams to brainstorm ideas, and then narrow them down to a product that can be implemented.

The process and the product design are two possible areas of a 3P project. It is important to complete the event in a reasonable time frame.

A 3P event should have a multi-functional team. Due to their scope, teams tend to be larger than a team for kaizen and are generally made up of top performers. For major product changes, it is not uncommon to have a 3P event with up to 20 people. A large portion of the first day is dedicated to training. The remainder of the week is dedicated to creativity, which allows you to unleash a lot of ideas and then combine them to find the best.

Types of Projects in Production Preparation

These events typically focus on product design or process development. Both cases require that the team start from scratch as though it were doing greenfield development. This allows them to think outside the box and not be limited by existing processes or designs.

Phases of 3P

  1. Identify the problem/Make the business case. Each project should begin with an understanding of the need.
  2. Establish goals and objectives. Production preparation can often have major profit- and loss implications. You shouldn’t try to squeeze as much improvement into a week-long event. Because they often tie in with corporate strategies, projects should have clear objectives and goals.
  3. Analysis and diagramming. These steps involve gathering significant information about the manufacturing and assembly processes of the product. This step will often include product layouts. This involves disassembling an existing product and turning it into a real-life, exploded view. Particular attention is given to how the parts fit together. Three-dimensional printing (the 3P process) makes heavy use of descriptive words such as twist, press, roll, flip, and flip. When describing the assembly of products,
  4. Screen and vet all ideas. This step is a prioritization stage that narrows down the most valuable ideas. The decision mat is essential for production preparation. It’s specifically designed to allow ideas to be compared.
  5. Moonshine is the best idea. This term implies that you hack together an unrefined solution but it works. This step transforms the possibilities from sketches on paper to more refined designs with process flow. This can be a mockup of the product or process but must show that the concept works.
  6. Choose the process/design. The moon-shined ideas are often compared and often combined into a final product that will serve as a blueprint for how to build the product.

When to use the Production Preparation process

These events work best in high-risk, high-reward environments. Lean tools that can make incremental improvements or roll out large changes are more suitable for this purpose. Here are some examples of 3P projects that have been successful:

  1. You are launching a new product.
  2. If you notice a dramatic change in demand that calls for a redesign of a production line.
  3. Moving production to a new place.
  4. External competition may require a significant design change.
  5. If you have to clear a lot of production space.
  6. If your production process is experiencing significant quality issues that you are unable to fix.
  7. If you face significant obstacles to Lean implementation.

The Production Preparation Process, which is quite sophisticated, is based on an advanced understanding of other Lean principles. This should not be attempted unless the company has made substantial progress on its continuous improvement journey.

A 3P project can be used to release a new product, but it may also be used to redesign an existing operation. The production preparation for an existing operation would not be the same as, which typically involves incremental improvements.

A 3P event is designed to produce products that can be built in a flow process. This is similar to the design of manufacturability, but it is compressed into a small project.