Lean Tales in Japan: The Japanese Supermarket Checkout

Japan is a wonderland for anybody interested in lean. Of course there is the archetype of lean manufacturing, the Toyota group and its Toyota Production System. However, access to Toyota plants is restricted, and during their guided tours you can observe only so much. (See for example my post on Evolution of Toyota Assembly Line Layout – A Visit to the Motomachi Plant as the result of such a tour).

Fortunately, the goal to achieve perfection is also found in many other processes in Japan, many of which you can observe almost anytime, whenever you like and for how long you like. In the past I blogged about Lean in the Japanese Public Toilet and Japanese Standard Pointing and Calling on Japanese trains. This time I’m looking in more detail into the Japanese supermarket, in particular its checkout system. Continue reading Lean Tales in Japan: The Japanese Supermarket Checkout

150th Anniversary of the Birth of Sakichi Toyoda

Sakichi Toyoda
Sakichi Toyoda

Exactly 150 years ago, on February 14, 1867, Sakichi Toyoda (豊田 佐吉 Toyoda Sakichi)  was born. He is known in Japan as the King of Inventors (which is probably a bit of an exaggeration), father of the Japanese Industrial Revolution, and also the founder of the Toyota industrial empire. Time to take a look back in history on his life. Continue reading 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Sakichi Toyoda

How to Determine Your Lot Size – Part 3

This is the third and final post on lot sizes (Part 1 and Part 2). After considering all the factors of the processes and inventories (changeover time, batch size, customer order size, and container and shipment size), we now look at how to set up the information flow. This is especially important if we want to have different lot sizes in different sections of our value stream. Continue reading How to Determine Your Lot Size – Part 3

How to Determine Your Lot Size – Part 2

A good lot size has a significant impact on the performance of the system. In this second post, I look at the influence of the machine batch size on the lot size. I also briefly go into the lot sizes for the processing industry, and also  administrative processes. In my next and last post I will look at how to manage different lot sizes in different parts of the value stream. Continue reading How to Determine Your Lot Size – Part 2

How to Determine Your Lot Size – Part 1

There are a few factors that can influence lot size: machine batch size, changeover time, size of the container, shipment sizes, and the size of your customers’ orders, which then are combined in the set up of the information flow. All of these factors can be influenced to move toward the true north of lot size one! Also, do not confuse the lot size with the number of parts per kanban. They are related but can be different. In this series of three posts, let me explain in more detail how the factors come together for you to determine the lot size of your processes. Continue reading How to Determine Your Lot Size – Part 1

The Lean Bucket Brigade – Part 2: Details and Caveats

In my last post I explained the basics of the bucket brigade as a self-organizing manufacturing line. The key to making this system work is the process for handing over the part to the next worker. An unsuitable hand-over could mean lots of waiting time for the workers. Hence, I would like to go into more detail on how to do the hand-over of the part. Continue reading The Lean Bucket Brigade – Part 2: Details and Caveats