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Operations Management Terms (S-Y)


Safety Stock – The amount of inventory carried in addition to the expected demand.

Sales and operation Planning – A term that refers to the process that helps companies keep demand and supply in balance.

Sociotechnical Systems – A philosophy that focuses more on the interaction between technology and the work group.

Setup Time – The time required to prepare a machine to make a particular item.

Service Blueprint – The flowchart of a service process, emphasizing what is visible and what is not visible to the customer.

Service Guarantee – A promise of service satisfaction backed up by a set of actions that must be taken to fulfill the promise.

Service Rate – The capacity of a server measured in number of units that can be processed over a given time period.

Setup – The group of activities needed to change or readjust a process between successive lots of items.

SERVQUAL — A service quality questionnaire that measures the gap between customer expectations and perceptions of performance after a service encounter.

Short-range Planning – Planning that covers a period less than six months with either daily or weekly increments of time.

Six Sigma – A statistical term to describe the quality goal of no more than four defects out of every million units.

Slack Time – The time that an activity can be delayed.

Small Lots – Mean less average inventory and shorten manufacturing lead time.

Single-digit setup – The goal of having a setup time of less than 10 minutes.

Smoothing Constant Alpha – The parameter in the exponential smoothing equation that controls the speed of reaction to differences between forecasts and actual demand.

Smoothing Constant Delta – An additional parameter used in an exponential smoothing equation that includes an adjustment for trend.

Specialization Labor — Simple, repetitive jobs are assigned to each worker.

Standard Time – Calculated by taking the normal time and adding allowances for personal needs, unavoidable work delays, and worker fatigue.

Starving – The activities in a stage must stop because there is no work.

Straddling – Occurs when a company seeks to match what a competitor is doing by adding new features, services, or technologies to existing activities.

Strategic Capacity Planning – Determining the overall capacity level of capital-intensive resources that best supports the company’s long-range competitive strategy.

Stock-keeping Unit – A common term used to identify an inventory item.

Supply Chain – How organizations are linked together as viewed from a particular company.

Supply Chain Management – A total system approach to managing the flow of information, materials and services from raw material suppliers through factories and warehouses to the end consumer.

Systematic Layout Planning (SPL) – A technique for solving process layout problems when the use of numerical flow data between departments is not practical.

Sequencing – The process of determining which job to start first on a machine or work center.

Shop Floor (production activity) Control – A system for utilizing data from the shop floor to maintain and communicate status information on shop orders and work center.


Total Quality Management – Managing the entire organization so that it excels on all dimensions of products and services that are important to the customer.

Total Quality Control – The practice of building quality into the process and not identifying quality by inspection.

Takt Time – A German word for musical meter. It refers to pacing work according to customer demand.

Time Study – Separation of a job into measurable parts, with each element timed individually.

Time Series Analysis — A type of forecast in which data relating to past demand are used to predict future demand.

Tracking Signal – A measure that indicates whether the forecast average is keeping pace with any genuine upward or downward changes in demand.

Trading Block – A group of countries that agree on a set of special arrangements governing the trading of goods between member countries.

Transformation Process – A process of using resources to transform inputs into some desired outputs.

Transportation Method – A special linear programming method that is useful for solving problems involving transporting products from several sources to several destinations.

Transportation Mode – How an item is shipped.

Throughput Time – The average time that it takes a unit to move through an entire process.

Throughput Rate – The output rate that the process is expected to produce over a period of time.


Uniform Plant Loading – Smoothing the production flow to dampen schedule variation.

Utilization – The ratio of the time that a resource is actually activated relative to the time it is available for use.


Value Added Services – Differentiate the organization from competitors and build relationships that bind customers to the firm in a positive way.

Value Added Time – The time in which useful work is actually being done on the unit.

Value analysis/ Value Engineering – Analysis with the purpose of simplifying products and processes by achieving equivalent or better performance at a lower cost.

Value density – The value of an item per pound of weight.

Workforce Level – The number of production workers needed each period.

Value Stream Mapping – A graphical way to analyze where value is or isn’t being added as material flows through a process.


Work Physiology – Considers the physical demands of a job.

Work Measurement – Job analysis for the purpose of setting time standards.

Work Sampling – Analyzing a work activity by observing an activity at random times.

Work Center – An area in a business in which productive resources are organized and work is completed.


Yield Management – allocating the right type of capacity to the right type of customer at the right price and time to maximize revenue or yield.

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