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.
The Toyota Motor Company (TMC) is one of the most well-managed firms in the world. Among multinational corporations, it is probably the most famous one. Since its founding in 1937, TMC has continuously improved. The question is, how did Toyota do that? What does Toyota do differently from other companies, who stumble from one problem into the next? I believe the corporate culture and style start with the behavior at the top. Hence, in this post I will look at the board of directors of TMC in more detail.
During my last trip to Japan, I finally took videos capturing the Japanese Pointing-and-Calling standard. Pointing and calling is a safety standard that started with Japanese train operators but now is widely used in industry. The idea is that whenever you confirm something, you not only look at it, but also point at it and call out your observation.
Have you ever been to a value stream mapping workshop? If so, you may remember the insistence of the coach to start any mapping activities at the customer side (the end) and then work your way backward (to the beginning). Yet, if you would ask why, you would get only some vague answers about this way being better, more lean, or just the way Toyota does it. In this post I want to go into more detail about whether it may be beneficial for value stream mapping to start at the customer side, and why.
Kanban systems are a huge help in industry, ensuring a steady availability of parts and products without excess stock. However, Kanbans are not necessarily limited to industrial use. In this post I will describe a simple Kanban system for office supplies. This system is also sometimes known as triangle kanban. One benefit of this system is that it will improve the availability of pens, paper, and other supplies. However, a second major benefit is that this provides a risk-free opportunity to train your people in creating and using Kanban systems.
Lean manufacturing pull systems use both FIFO lanes and supermarkets to manage the material and information flow. In my previous post we covered the basics about supermarket and FIFO lanes. Now we go into details about the ten rules when to use a supermarket instead of a FIFO.