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.
You may have heard of Takumi at Toyota. Takumi in general are highly skilled artisans that excel in their craft. Despite Toyota mass-producing cars using lots of machines, they also employ hundreds of Takumi. This blog post takes a deeper look at what a Takumi is, and why they are so important for Toyota and other Japanese companies.
Recently, the Japanese word ikigai has been popping up as a way to find happiness. While not quite a manufacturing theme, it is related to industry and to Japanese culture, and hence I decided to write a blog post about it. It is a lot of hubbub around a few good (but not new) ideas, wrapped in a out-of-context Japanese word.
Good problem solving can seriously help you with the performance in your plant. John Shook recently pointed out another nice example to me: the Japanese Men’s 4x100m relay team during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They were the underdogs, with none of their team having ever run 100m in under 10 seconds. Yet they stunningly won the silver medal! They achieved this through good problem solving. Let me show you the details:
Subaru is the smallest of the Japanese car makers, with barely a million vehicles per year in 2016, which makes it the 23rd-largest vehicle maker in the world. Yet, since it produces almost exclusively four-wheel-drives, it is also the largest maker of four-wheel-drives. Despite its small size Subaru is highly profitable. During my grand tour of Japanese automotive, I visited Subaru in February 2018. Here are my findings.
The next stop on my Grand Tour of the Japanese Automotive Plants: Suzuki! On December 3, 2017, I visited their location in Hamamatsu. To be completely honest, I did not see the inside of their plants, but the excellent Suzuki Plaza still gave a lot of insight into their production system.
Mazda is the seventeenth-largest car maker in the world with around 1.5 million cars produced in 2016. Most of them were produced in Japan. It is also the only car maker that mass-produced cars using a rotary engine. As part of my Grand Tour of Japanese Automotive Plants, I visited their main Hiroshima plant in January 2018 (one of three Mazda plants in Japan). Here’s what I found:
Mitsubishi Motors is the oldest of the major car companies in Japan, established 1917. It is also one of the smaller ones in Japan, with only slightly more than 1 million vehicles produced in 2016. In January 2018, I had the chance to visit their Okazaki plant near Nagoya. I also visited the Mitsubishi Fuso plant in Kawasaki and one of its suppliers, although that is technically another company. Let me give you the gist of the Mitsubishi Motors Plant Okazaki.