Tag Archives: Plant Tour

The Grand Tour of Japanese Automotive – Overview and Toyota

Grand Tour of Japanese Automotive MapDuring Winter 2017–2018, I spent five months in Japan. As part of this visit, I was able to visit factories of all seven Japanese car makers as part of my Grand Tour of Japanese Automotive Plants.

This was extremely insightful, and I learned a lot about the differences between the Japanese car makers.  Let me give you an overview and some details on Toyota plants before firing off a series of blog posts on the different Japanese automotive companies. Continue reading The Grand Tour of Japanese Automotive – Overview and Toyota

Continued Evolution of the Toyota Assembly Line

Toyota LogoToyota is one of the the most visionary car makers with respect to its manufacturing. They continuously and radically evolve and update their production system. Recently I learned about their new “flexible assembly line.” Now, you’ve probably heard about Toyota’s flexible assembly lines producing multiple products on the same line. That is old hat; they’ve done that for thirty years. Their new flexible assembly line involves a completely different aspect of flexibility, with which Toyota surprised me (again). Let me show you … Continue reading Continued Evolution of the Toyota Assembly Line

Material Flow in the Arsenal of Venice 1797

Whenever I am in Venice, I try to visit the Museo Storico Navale, near the entrance to the Arsenal of Venice. This museum has a set of beautiful detailed maps by Abbot Maffioletti showing the Arsenal of Venice in 1797, 1798, and “After Napoleon.” You can see in great detail the different steps needed to build and equip a sailing vessel. In this post, I will explain the material flow of the Arsenal of Venice, which was the largest industrial site in Europe and possibly in the world during its time.  Be warned, this post is rich in images. The material flow is partially based on the master thesis of my student Maren-Linn Janka. Continue reading Material Flow in the Arsenal of Venice 1797

The Arsenal of Venice

Land Gate of the Arsenal of Venice
Land gate of the Arsenal of Venice

The Arsenal of Venice was one of the the largest industrial sites in Europe in the 16th century. This was the hub of Venetian ship building, supporting the power of the Venetian republic. Both warships and merchant vessels were built there.

It is also known for the organization of its work. Sometimes it is listed as the world’s first assembly line, although in my view this may be a bit of a stretch. While they achieved a lot, there was also a lot of chaos. In this post I present you with a bit about the Arsenal in general, as well as some detailed maps by Abbot Maffioletti from 1797 and 1798. In my next post I will go into much more detail on the material flow based on these maps. Continue reading The Arsenal of Venice

Toyota’s and Denso’s Relentless Quest for Lot Size One

Relay Race Hand Over
Just when you need it …

A famous step toward perfection in a lean production system is a lot size of one. However, few people realize what enormous effort and rigor Toyota applies to achieve this goal. During my visit to a Toyota plant and the APMS conference in Tokyo in 2015, I saw quite a few stunning examples of this quest. Let me show you … Continue reading Toyota’s and Denso’s Relentless Quest for Lot Size One

Pay Attention to Details – Operator Training at Toyota and Scania

Watchmaker
It’s all in the details…

Often, implementing “lean” means management is picking the latest lean-related buzzword and telling their people to implement it. This is wrong on so many levels. For one, a lean project should always start with a problem, not a solution. On another level, good manufacturing is all about the nitty-gritty details. Both normal operations and improvement projects need a lot of attention to details. Unfortunately, this is frequently lacking in many companies. In this post I would like to show you the level of detail for operator training in some excellent companies. Continue reading Pay Attention to Details – Operator Training at Toyota and Scania

Common Mistakes of Top Executives – A look at “Undercover Boss”

Undercover BossI occasionally watch the reality show Undercover Boss, where top executives work undercover in their own companies. Over and over again I see these managers making the same mistake: They have no understanding whatsoever of what is really happening on the front lines. It is a typical case of not going to the shop floor often enough, or in lean speak, no genchi genbutsu (Japanese for “go and see”).  So, <dramatic voice> Why do bosses all make the same mistake? Will they ever learn? Will you enjoy this post? See for yourself in the post below! </dramatic voice>. Continue reading Common Mistakes of Top Executives – A look at “Undercover Boss”

A Successful Example of Lean Implementation – Trumpf and its Synchro Manufacturing System (Part 2)

Trumpf LogoHalf 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. This is the second part. Continue reading A Successful Example of Lean Implementation – Trumpf and its Synchro Manufacturing System (Part 2)