Category Archives: Lean Tools

Posts related to different lean tools, often also known as the lean toolbox. Different methods that can be used to improve the shop floor, although it is risky to use methods on their own without a whole lean system.

What Exactly Is Jidoka?

Jidoka is a term commonly used in lean manufacturing, and widely considered one of the pillars of the Toyota Production System, the other being Just in Time (JIT). However, while the word jidoka is often used to impress others, the ideas behind it are much less frequently found outside of Toyota. Maybe this is because so many people interpret jidoka differently. In this first post of a three post series on jidoka, we look at what jidoka actually is. Continue reading What Exactly Is Jidoka?

Toyota Standard Work – Part 3: Standard Work Layout

This post is the third in this series on how Toyota plans standard work. The first one was the production capacity sheet to define what capacity you have available. The second one was a standard work combination table to define when the operator is doing what. Finally, the third of the “famous three slips”, presented in this post, is a standard work layout sheet to help the layout and arrangement of the machines. Continue reading Toyota Standard Work – Part 3: Standard Work Layout

Toyota Standard Work – Part 2: Standard Work Combination Table

Toyota has a nifty way to plan the work of an operator using their standard work charts. In my last post I explained the production capacity sheet to define what capacity you have available. In this post we will talk about the second of the “famous three slips”,  the standard work combination table to define when the operator is doing what. A subsequent post will show a standard work layout sheet. Continue reading Toyota Standard Work – Part 2: Standard Work Combination Table

Toyota Standard Work – Part 1: Production Capacity

Toyota is excellent with their standard work. They use a series of worksheets to simplify the creation of these standards.  These are sometimes also know as the “famous 3 slips”. The first one is a production capacity sheet to define what capacity you have available. The second one is a standard work combination table to define when the operator is doing what. The third one is a standard work layout sheet to help with the layout and arrangement of the machines. While there are many different ways of doing this, I like the Toyota approach. Since this is a larger topic, I’ve broken it into multiple blog posts. Lets start with the Production Capacity sheet. Continue reading Toyota Standard Work – Part 1: Production Capacity

Karakuri Kaizen Examples

After an introduction and description of the fundamentals of karakuri kaizen,  here are some different karakuri kaizen examples for a wide variety of uses. Most of them are from the 480 exhibits at the the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya, Japan; others are from the 2017 OPEXCON in Stuttgart, Germany. Here is my attempt of a structured overview, even though some of the points below may be overlapping. Continue reading Karakuri Kaizen Examples

Fundamentals of Karakuri Kaizen

Karakuri is the art of creating machines without an external power source. After an introduction to the topic in my last post, I would like to show you some fundamental techniques for karakuri.

I would like to pay particular attention to power management: Where do these machines get their power from, how do they store it, and where does it go? I will also (very !) briefly talk about kinematics, and even some karakuri ideas that go beyond kinematics. My next post will have lots of examples, mostly from the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya.

Continue reading Fundamentals of Karakuri Kaizen

Introduction to Karakuri Kaizen

Karakuri NingyoRecently I visited the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya. This was a very impressive exhibit, and I learned a lot about karakuri from the many different examples shown there by over one hundred exhibitors. Organized annually by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance, it is to my knowledge the biggest showcase of karakuri in the world. This was an exciting visit that I will process in a whole series of blog posts on karakuri (Fundamentals and Examples)

Karakuri is the use of mechanic gadgetry rather than electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic devices. Definitely no computers! Within lean, it stands for mechanical gadgets that improve your system. Time to look closer at what I learned from this karakuri exhibition. Continue reading Introduction to Karakuri Kaizen

Ship to Line

Ship to Line (STL) is yet another technique in lean to optimize your material flow. The idea’s gist is that instead of bringing material to the warehouse, you deliver it directly to the line or to the point of consumption. Like a freshly delivered pizza, you don’t put it on the shelf and eat it two days later.  However, for Ship to Line  to work, there are a few things to be aware of and to take care of. Let me explain: Continue reading Ship to Line