Karakuri Kaizen Examples

After an introduction and description of the fundamentals of karakuri kaizen,  here are some different karakuri kaizen examples for a wide variety of uses. Most of them are from the 480 exhibits at the the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya, Japan; others are from the 2017 OPEXCON in Stuttgart, Germany. Here is my attempt of a structured overview, even though some of the points below may be overlapping.

Read more

Fundamentals of Karakuri Kaizen

Karakuri is the art of creating machines without an external power source. After an introduction to the topic in my last post, I would like to show you some fundamental techniques for karakuri.

I would like to pay particular attention to power management: Where do these machines get their power from, how do they store it, and where does it go? I will also (very !) briefly talk about kinematics, and even some karakuri ideas that go beyond kinematics. My next post will have lots of examples, mostly from the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya.

Read more

Introduction to Karakuri Kaizen

Karakuri NingyoRecently I visited the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya. This was a very impressive exhibit, and I learned a lot about karakuri from the many different examples shown there by over one hundred exhibitors. Organized annually by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance, it is to my knowledge the biggest showcase of karakuri in the world. This was an exciting visit that I will process in a whole series of blog posts on karakuri (Fundamentals and Examples)

Karakuri is the use of mechanic gadgetry rather than electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic devices. Definitely no computers! Within lean, it stands for mechanical gadgets that improve your system. Time to look closer at what I learned from this karakuri exhibition.

Read more

More On Cuba’s Planned Economy: Cuban Industry

Hershey Factory Cuba
The state of the Cuban economy

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on the Cuban economy, focusing on commerce (See How a Planned Economy Can Screw Up an Entire Country – Analogy between Cuba’s Communist Economy and Push Systems). On the same visit I not only saw supermarkets, but I also had a look at industry. Unfortunately there are no visitors allowed in their government factories. Nevertheless, I was able to catch some glimpses of different industries.

Read more

The Seven Types of Waste (Muda) – Now with 24 More Types of Waste Absolutely Free!

Seven Trash Cans Labeled

One popular and well-known concept of the Toyota Production System is the elimination of waste, in Japanese also called muda (無駄). It is one of the three evils of manufacturing systems, the others being unevenness (mura, 斑) and overburden (muri, 無理). In this post I would like to go through the details of waste with you. This includes the traditional seven types of waste – of which I am a big fan. For completeness sake I also included a lot more types of waste I have come across in industry. However, you have to decide yourself if these additional wastes are not themselves a waste.

Read more

How a Planned Economy Can Screw Up an Entire Country – Analogy between Cuba’s Communist Economy and Push Systems

Cuban FlagOver Christmas I escaped the cold weather in Germany and relaxed on the warm beaches in Cuba. Of course, being a lean expert, I was also interested in the Cuban economy. As a communist economy (or more precisely, a socialist economy), it is based on centralized planning. In comparison, the capitalist system of the US (and most of the rest of the world) leaves most business decisions to individual entrepreneurs. This is somewhat similar to push and pull in manufacturing. Push systems also rely on centralized planning, while pull systems have their signal from inside the system to match the customer demand. As capitalism outperforms communism, pull usually outperforms push. Hence, in this post I would like to show you the shenanigans that happen in Cuba due to the effects of centralized planning. Warning: Lots of images ahead!

Read more