Toyota has developed what is probably the finest production system in the world, the Toyota Production System. There is general consensus in the rest of the world that its methods and philosophies can significantly improve efficiency and quality, to the point that anything Toyota does is admired and copied. Some practitioners seem to wear rose-colored glasses when talking about Toyota. However, like any company, Toyota does have its fair share of problems and mishaps to deal with, from the 1950 near collapse, to the US gas pedal recalls during 2009–2011. This post will discuss the employee relationship crisis at Toyota around 1990 and Toyota’s countermeasures.
Lean Six Sigma (also abbreviated as 6σ) seems to be everywhere in industry nowadays. There are tons of consultants, job offers, projects, and articles about Lean Six Sigma. In this post, I would like to talk about where Six Sigma comes from, its difference from lean manufacturing, the reason for its popularity, and its shortcomings.
The Industrial Revolution changed the lives of ordinary people faster and more radically than any other period in history before it. Within only a few decades, small artisan shops were replaced by large factories. The Industrial Revolution started with the mass processing of cotton. Yet, as we will see, this happened only due to significant industrial espionage across multiple countries.
In the previous post, I explained the basics of a quick changeover. In this post, I will go through the history of quick changeovers (also known as SMED). It is quite interesting to learn how things have developed during the twentieth century. The next post will look at different, unusual ways to teach SMED.
Shigeo Shingo is a name that everyone in the United States lean community knows. He is considered “the world’s leading expert on manufacturing practices and the Toyota Production System,” an “engineering genius,” and the foremost guru of lean production. Some sources even claim he invented the Toyota Production System and taught Taiichi Ohno. Unfortunately, his achievements were much less stellar than this, but he was very skilled in the art of self-promotion.
Toyota is a company that is constantly evolving, aiming to reduce waste. Over the last few years, I have heard about changes to the Toyota assembly lines to improve efficiency. During a recent trip to Japan, I was able to observe the assembly line at the Motomachi plant. In this post I will show the evolution of line layouts at Toyota.
If you work in manufacturing, sooner or later you will find someone who claims that lean manufacturing is all about Zero Defects. Or Zero Inventory. Or Zero Lead Time. Or Zero Whatever. This is bollocks! Zero Defects was a management fad from the 1960s that pops up regularly every now and then again. In this post we will look at what Zeros there really are in lean manufacturing – if any.
Throughout the history of industry, there has been a constant conflict between managers and subordinates. For some reason, we just don’t get along well with each other. Or, as philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre phrased it, “Hell is other people.” In fact, large advances in mechanization and automation were due to managers wanting to take power away from workers or to get rid of workers altogether.