American Factory – Documentary of a Chinese Automotive Factory in the USA

A good manufacturing documentary on Netflix is American Factory. This movie follows an American automotive plant that closed some time ago, and was reopened by a Chinese car glass manufacturer. It documents the differences and problems between employees and management in general and the cultural clashes between Chinese management’s and American workers’ expectations in particular. It is in fact very similar to the 1986 movie Gung Ho, except Gung Ho is a fictional comedy, whereas American Factory is as real as it gets. Good to watch!

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Fictional Movie on US-Japan Automotive Culture Clash – Gung Ho

Michael Keaton in 2002

Recently I watched a few feature-length movies about automotive plants America. The first one is Gung Ho, a fictional comedy from 1986 featuring Michael Keaton. The movie shows a Japanese car maker purchasing a closed-down plant in the USA, and lots of cultural clashes that threaten to close down the plant again. While not Academy Award-worthy, it offers insights into the cultural differences between Japanese and US Industry, although often exaggerated on both sides for comical effect.

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On Adjusting Supervisor Workload

In my last post I looked at the span of control. This is very related to the workload of the supervisor. Hence in this post I would like to discuss how to adjust the supervisor workload. Usually, this is to reduce the workload, as most shop-floor supervisors are in my opinion overworked and have no time left for improvement. In some cases, however, you may have a situation where you want to give the rare underworked supervisor more work. Most of the approaches presented will work in both directions. Let’s look at some ideas:

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Hoshin Kanri and the Kanri Noryoku Program: Rejuvenating Toyota

In my previous posts I explained how Hoshin Kanri works. This post looks at how Toyota embeds Hoshin Kanri as part of their overall management structure. Toyota started this in 1979 when director Masao Nemoto started the Kanri Noryoku Program (管理能力プログラム), usually shortened to KanPro.

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Hoshin Kanri – Part 4: The X-Matrix?

Is more better?

When googling Hoshin Kanri, you will sooner or later come across an X-Matrix. It is a visually very impressive tool, but I am in serious doubt about its usefulness. It focuses on the creation of the Hoshin items, but to me this approach is overkill, and – even worse – may distract the user from actually following the PDCA, especially the Check and Act parts. While the article is highly critical, I hope reading it and understanding the shortcomings help you better understand how Toyota thinks.

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Hoshin Kanri – Part 3: Hierarchical Hoshins

Hoshin Kanri can be used individually, but its full potential is shown across the levels of corporate hierarchy. The goals of a Hoshin Kanri should be derived from the Hoshin Kanri of the next-level hierarchy above. This post is part of a larger series on Hoshin Kanri. Let’s look at the hierarchy structure:

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