Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Definitions

Glossary terms, history, people and definitions about Lean and Six Sigma

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A visual and/or audible communication system that notifies everyone of abnormalities in a process when support or attention is needed. This can be triggered automatically or manually by a machine or person.

It could be a:

  • cord that is manually pulled (often seen on an assembly line)
  • light (red, yellow and green colors)
  • flag (also red, yellow and green) that is placed in a holder or flipped to signal a problem

Each of these visuals should be supplemented with an audible signal to ensure everyone notices the signal. For example, at Toyota, when a cord is pulled, the line stops, and music is played that corresponds with the work area. This makes it easy for the support team to listen for the sound that matches their work area (reducing time to respond to the problem).


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