Category Archives: Lean Tools

Posts related to different lean tools, often also known as the lean toolbox. Different methods that can be used to improve the shop floor, although it is risky to use methods on their own without a whole lean system.

Karakuri Kaizen Examples

After an introduction and description of the fundamentals of karakuri kaizen,  here are some different karakuri kaizen examples for a wide variety of uses. Most of them are from the 480 exhibits at the the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya, Japan; others are from the 2017 OPEXCON in Stuttgart, Germany.

Here is my attempt of a structured overview, even though some of the points below may be overlapping. Continue reading Karakuri Kaizen Examples

Fundamentals of Karakuri Kaizen

Karakuri is the art of creating machines without an external power source. After an introduction to the topic in my last post, I would like to show you some fundamental techniques for karakuri.

I would like to pay particular attention to power management: Where do these machines get their power from, how do they store it, and where does it go? I will also (very !) briefly talk about kinematics, and even some karakuri ideas that go beyond kinematics. My next post will have lots of examples, mostly from the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya.

Continue reading Fundamentals of Karakuri Kaizen

Introduction to Karakuri Kaizen

Karakuri NingyoRecently I visited the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya. This was a very impressive exhibit, and I learned a lot about karakuri from the many different examples shown there by over one hundred exhibitors. Organized annually by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance, it is to my knowledge the biggest showcase of karakuri in the world. This was an exciting visit that I will process in a whole series of blog posts on karakuri.

Karakuri is the use of mechanic gadgetry rather than electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic devices. Definitely no computers! Within lean, it stands for mechanical gadgets that improve your system. Time to look closer at what I learned from this karakuri exhibition. Continue reading Introduction to Karakuri Kaizen

Ship to Line

Ship to Line (STL) is yet another technique in lean to optimize your material flow. The idea’s gist is that instead of bringing material to the warehouse, you deliver it directly to the line or to the point of consumption. Like a freshly delivered pizza, you don’t put it on the shelf and eat it two days later.  However, for Ship to Line  to work, there are a few things to be aware of and to take care of. Let me explain: Continue reading Ship to Line

Just in Sequence Part 3 – What Can Go Wrong

This third and last post on Just in Sequence details all the things that can go wrong, and talks about how to fix them. The biggest problem is if the sequence of your Just in Sequence part does not match the main component that it should be sequenced to. This happens especially due to defects and rework. I also describe common options to deal with these problems – but be warned: all of them suck. As usual in lean, it is so much easier not to have problems in the first place than it is to deal with them afterward. Continue reading Just in Sequence Part 3 – What Can Go Wrong

Just in Sequence Part 2 – How to Do It

In this second post on Just in Sequence, I would like to talk about some details on the actual sequencing of parts: when to use Just in Sequence in the first place, which parts to sequence, and how to define the sequence. These are all organizational details to make Just in Sequence  work. In my next and last post of this series, I will describe how to handle problems with parts being out of sequence. Continue reading Just in Sequence Part 2 – How to Do It

Just in Sequence Part 1 – What Is It?

“Just in Sequence” (JIS) is a good way to supply material to high-mix, low-volume production. It combines well with “Just in Time” (JIT) and “Ship to Line” (STL), but neither are a prerequisite for Just in Sequence. In this series of posts I would like to talk about what Just in Sequence is, how it works, and what to be aware of. This first post details the basics of Just in Sequence production. Continue reading Just in Sequence Part 1 – What Is It?

Visual Management

Yet another hot topic in lean manufacturing is visual management. This can be very helpful in running a shop floor, but when done wrong it can also be quite wasteful and embarrassing. In this post I would like to show you the basic principles of visual management with a few examples. There is more to visual management than merely putting lines on the shop floor.  Continue reading Visual Management