A Successful Example of Lean Implementation – Trumpf and its Synchro Manufacturing System (Part 1)

Trumpf LogoAlmost a century ago, Toyota started to develop its Toyota Production System, the archetype of every lean manufacturing system. Almost every manufacturing company nowadays seems to try to implement lean manufacturing. At the same time, most also seem to fail miserably, creating a lot of huff and puff with little benefit. However, occasionally there are (very) few companies that have implemented lean manufacturing successfully. Trumpf and its Synchro production system is such a successful example of Lean manufacturing, and one of the finest production system for machine tool builders. Due to the length I have split this post into two parts, the second part being available here.

Read more

Visual Management during World War II – A Visit to the Lascaris War Rooms in Malta

Royal Air Force Operations in Malta, Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, 1939-1945.For larger improvement projects with a dedicated project team, there is frequently a “war room,” a conference room where all the project-related information and performance measures are kept. The name sounds cool and gives a certain air of focus to the project.

The name, however, comes from war rooms for real wars. Recently I had the chance to visit the Lascaris War Rooms in Malta, where I was able to see many tools and practices that are still common nowadays in manufacturing and project management.

Read more

Theory and Practice on FiFo Lanes – How Does FiFo Work in Lean Manufacturing?

FiFo LaneFiFo lanes are an important part of any lean material flow. They are a very simple way to define both the material flow and the information flow. In this post I want to tell you why to use FiFo, how to use FiFo, and the advantages of FiFo, as well as show you a few examples of FiFo lanes.

Read more

How Many Kanbans? – Estimation Approach and Maintenance

Number of Kanban
How many Kanban?

In my previous two posts, I described how to calculate the number of kanbans (Post 1 and Post 2). However, this calculation is complex, and the result is nothing more than a very rough estimate. Hence my preferred method for determining the number of kanbans is, broadly speaking,  “just take enough, and then see if you can reduce them.” In this post, I would like to explain this approach and also discuss how and when to update the number of kanbans.

Read more

How Many Kanbans? – The Kanban Formula, Part 2

Number of Kanban
How many Kanbans?

This is the second post on kanban calculation (if possible, please read the first post on kanban calculation first). There are two possible approaches. First, you can calculate the number of kanbans using a kanban formula (due to its length, split into a first post and this second post). Alternatively, you can estimate the number of kanbans and adjust the system as it is running (as shown in a third post).

Read more

How Many Kanbans? – The Kanban Formula, Part 1

Number of Kanban
How many Kanbans?

One frequent and tricky question when designing a pull system is to determine how many kanbans to use in the system. There are two possible approaches. First, you can calculate the number of kanbans using a kanban formula. Due to the length of the process, I have broken this into two posts (For the second part click here). Alternatively, you can estimate the number of kanbans and adjust the system as it is running (as shown in a third post).

Read more

The Problem of Losing Kanban – Different Kanban Types

Kanban cardPull production using Kanban is one of the major achievements of the Toyota Production System and hence lean manufacturing. The work in progress is limited by the number of Kanban. Overproduction is avoided by producing only if a part is taken out of the supermarket and the Kanban card is returned to the start of production. However, this Kanban system works only if the Kanban  returns to the start of production. Losing Kanban means not reproducing goods sold. In this post I would like to talk about different methods to prevent the loss of Kanban, including different Kanban types.

Read more

Japanese Standard Pointing and Calling (Video)

Point and Call
I see you!

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.

Read more