Toyota has developed what is probably the finest production system in the world, the Toyota Production System. There is general consensus in the rest of the world that its methods and philosophies can significantly improve efficiency and quality, to the point that anything Toyota does is admired and copied. Some practitioners seem to wear rose-colored glasses when talking about Toyota. However, like any company, Toyota does have its fair share of problems and mishaps to deal with, from the 1950 near collapse, to the US gas pedal recalls during 2009–2011. This post will discuss the employee relationship crisis at Toyota around 1990 and Toyota’s countermeasures.
On the Lean Guru Shigeo Shingo
Shigeo Shingo is a name that everyone in the United States lean community knows. He is sometimes 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. Shingo greatly helped to popularize the idea of Lean in the USA. However, he invented much less than what is sometimes claimed, and there is also quite some disagreement in the lean community on this. Let’s have a look at his life and his achievements.
Evolution of Toyota Assembly Line Layout – A Visit to the Motomachi Plant
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.
Lean is Zero Defects? – I don’t think so!
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.
Consistency at Toyota – The Board of Directors of the Toyota Motor Company
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.
Japanese Standard Pointing and Calling (Video)
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.
Value Stream Mapping – Why to Start at the Customer Side
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.
Internal Threat to the Toyota Production System Due to New Hiring Practices
Toyota with its Toyota Production System is the archetype of lean manufacturing, which also makes it to one of the most successful companies on earth. This success is due to outstanding cooperative management at Toyota; however, recent changes in hiring practices threaten the Toyota Production System.