The Limits of Work Standards

Factory WorkersWork standards are the backbone of continuous improvement because you need a standard to maintain what you have already achieved. But standards are not easy. A standard should explain everything in sufficient detail without being too detailed…and that is a fine line to walk. The key to the problem, but also to the solution, is the worker who uses the standard. Let me show you.

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What’s Buzzing?—Vibration Sensors in Industry

During our Van of Nerds tour in France in 2022, we came across a few vibration sensors. In manufacturing, vibration sensors are frequently used to measure machine- or tool-related data. Some of these sensors were variations of what I have seen before, but the one for measuring machine performance was stunningly good and something I have not seen before. Hence, in this blog post I would like to share my findings on vibration sensors in industry.

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The Difficulties of Dazzling Digital Shop Floor Dashboards

Digital shop floor dashboards are popular nowadays, and are found in many companies. However, they often seem more like a decorative element than a functional way to transfer information. In this blog post, I will look deeper into the possibilities and problem with digital shop floor displays and how to make them work. This blog post was inspired by the Van of Nerds trip through France in 2022, organized by Franck Vermet and Michel Baudin.

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Toyota’s New Type of Flexible Assembly Lines—Takaoka Line #2

Toyota Takaoka EntranceFlexible assembly lines are well known at Toyota – except that there are two types of “flexible assembly lines.” The well-known one is making multiple different models on the same line. But Toyota has developed a new type of flexible assembly line, where the entire layout of the assembly line can be changed quickly and easily. Confusingly, this is also called a flexible assembly line, although Toyota itself does not even have a name for it (different from the West, Toyota focuses more on doing something, while the West often puts the most effort into a catchy name). Their pilot line is in the Takaoka plant. Let me show you.

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Omotenashi in Product Design

In Japan, there is omotenashi. In its basic translation, the word means hospitality. But even in Japan, it means something else: it is the aim for perfection with a customer. This idea can be extended to product design, aiming for a product that gives the customer a perfect experience.

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The Van of Nerds in France—Trains and Cars

In this post I would like to talk about two other plants that we visited as part of the Van of Nerds in France. One is a railway repair and maintenance plant by SNCF, and the other is a body shop and final assembly by the well-known French car maker Renault. Both offered interesting insights. I am personally quite familiar with automotive assembly. The railroad repair facility, however, was something quite new to me. Let me show you.

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The Van of Nerds in France—Internal Logistics in Well Exploration and Military Products

This post looks at two plants we visited during our Van of Nerds tour in France in 2022. Both plants are in areas in which I have little experience. The first one was SLB, specializing in sensors for oil field exploration. The second one was the Thales Group, where we visited the location manufacturing military sensors. In both locations we had a deeper look at internal logistics. This is (from the point of view of car manufacturing) a low-volume but definitely not a low-cost business. Let’s have a look.

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The Van of Nerds in France—Aircraft Engines and Parts

The Nerds at LISI
The Nerds at LISI

This post looks at more plants we visited on our Van of Nerds tour in France in 2022. The focus this time is the aircraft industry, in particularly the engines. We visited a major maker of aircraft engines, or their nacelles and thrust reversers to be more precise, Safran in Le Havre. But we also visited two suppliers for engine components. LISI specializes in high-performance bolts and screws for aircraft, but also has some highly advanced digital displays on their shop floor. JPB makes well-designed inspection ports for aircraft engines, for which they developed some really clever digital solutions, which they now also provide to others. It was definitely a set of highly interesting visits. Let me show you!

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