Shigeo Shingo and the Art of Self Promotion

Shigeo ShingoShigeo 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.

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Evolution of Toyota Assembly Line Layout – A Visit to the Motomachi Plant

Current Layout of Toyota Motomachi PlantToyota 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.

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Lean is Zero Defects? – I don’t think so!

Zero Defects?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.

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Hell is Other People – Workplace Conflict between Managers and the Managed

Little birds and big bird on wire
The boss and the bossed …

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.

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Internal Threat to the Toyota Production System Due to New Hiring Practices

Mutual trust still valued at Toyota?
Mutual trust still valued at Toyota?

Toyota with its Toyota Production System is the archetype of lean manufacturing, which also makes it to one of the most successful companies on earth. This success is due to outstanding cooperative management at Toyota; however, recent changes in hiring practices threaten the Toyota Production System.

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The Tale of Taylor and Gilbreth

Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr.
Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr.

Modern workplace management undoubtedly started with Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856–1915), who almost single-handedly created modern industrial management. He was the first to measure industrial work and apply the results to improve efficiency. Even so, efficiency was greatly improved by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (1868–1924 and 1878–1972 respectively). Unfortunately, Frederick Taylor and Frank Gilbreth were at war with each other. This post looks into the history of how the conflict started, and how Lillian Gilbreth resolved the conflict after their deaths.

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