Friday, August 22, 2008

3-M Practice

K. R. Singhal

‘3-M Practice’ is also known as ‘the big 3’. This is an integral part of the Japanese manufacturing system. ‘3-M Practice’ is popularly known for the three Japanese mantras of ‘muri’, ‘mura’ and ‘muda’.

The ‘3-M Practice’ is popularly practice in many parts of the world because it brings down the cost of production to bare minimum without effecting the quality of manufactured product. When an organization implements the ‘3-M Practice’, the effect of elimination of muda (wastage) is immediately visible. The impact of other two – ‘muri’ and ‘mura’ – are equally significant.


The Japanese word ‘muri’ means ‘unreasonable’ or ‘irrational’ approach to any field of operation whatsoever.

There are four major approaches in ‘muri’. These are:

- The organization should identify things and activities, those are difficult to do or beyond the reach. Such things and activities should be eliminated from the activities of the organization.

- The organization should identify things and activities that do not make any sense or it is difficult to find reasons for. There is no sense in perusing such things and activities and the organization should stop carrying out such things or activities.

- The organization should also eliminate things or activities, the organization people do just because they are told to do without understanding the reason for doing such things or activities or its underlying benefit from performing such activities.

- The organization should eliminate irrational actions or operations that cause undue or excessive load due to more physical effort, frequent stress to body movement, mental load due to unwarranted work place stress, to remember more of unnecessary things, continuously worrying about defects or breakdowns, unnecessary making efforts to read illegible writings and symbols, etc.


The Japanese word ‘mura’ means ‘irregular’, ‘uneven’ or ‘inconsistent’. The Japanese word ‘heijo’ is opposite to ‘mura’. The word ‘heijo’ means ‘ordinary’, ‘regular’ or ‘even’.

There are two theories that originate from the principle of ‘mura’. These theories are: (i) The ‘Bottleneck Theory’, and (ii) The ‘Theory of Constraints’.

According to the bottleneck theory, the rate of flow out of a bottle depends on the neck or least diameter of the bottle. This theory is very much relevant to industry and when applied to manufacturing unit, it states that the department or unit in the manufacturing chain with the least capacity decides the plant capacity.

The ‘theory of constraints’ is also developed on the principle of ‘mura’. This theory states that the weakest link in a chain decides the weight that can be lifted by the chain. The objective here is to identify the weakest link, so that the organization can take suitable measures to strengthen this weakest link to make the organization stronger and make it grow continually and consistently.

‘Kaizen’ uses ‘mura’ approach as a powerful improvement tool. In the ‘mura’ approach, it calls for a minimum deviation between the best and the worst product (or service). The organization believing in ‘mura’ should take appropriate steps to minimize the range of deviation and also standard deviation in the statistical process control (SPC). ‘Mura’ is a very powerful tool in developing the confidence of customers, employees and management of the organization. It facilitates employees and management to understand what is expected from the organization, its products and processes.


The Japanese word ‘muda’ means ‘waste’. ‘Waste’ is a thing or any activity that does not add any value.

An organization can be benefited from the elimination of waste. As such, the organization should first identify and analyze the ‘muda’ present in the organization and then take suitable corrective as well as preventive actions to eliminate such ‘muda’. There may be nine types of ‘muda’ in an organization. These are:
‘Muda’ from overproduction
‘Muda’ due to wasting time
‘Muda’ due to unwarranted transportation
‘Muda’ from excess inventories
Process ‘muda’
‘Muda’ of motion due to unnecessary human movements.
‘Muda’ from product defects or defective parts
‘Muda’ due to development of product (or services or the product features) that does not add any value from the customers’ point of view.
‘Muda’ of opportunities.

Courtesy: Various magazines, books, articles on the subject.

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