Dashboards, in their many forms, are essential to track the performance of a production system. In this post I will talk more about the Toyota shop floor dashboard. A lot of the information is from Toyota in Japan, but the images are from Toyota UK. Keep in mind that the dashboards are not a rigid standard and there may be differences in how they are implemented in the different plants. For one thing, in Japan they are in Japanese, and in the UK in English, but there are also differences within the KPI itself. Let me tell you more in this short series on the Toyota KPI dashboards…
Toyota is excellent at tracking information… AND actually using it! One thing that always surprises me at Toyota plants, no matter where in the world, is the amount of paper on the walls that tracks or manages different aspects of the plants. For example, at a recent visit to the Toyota UK Deeside engine plant, the section manager for the final assembly had a whopping 50 meters of whiteboard filled to the brim with paper (plus a large stack of older sheets on a table), which he went through with his team every day. Admittedly, only around 8 meters of these were the KPI dashboard, and for example there were an extra 20 meters of whiteboard due to the final assembly line having trouble making its 44 second target tact reliably, and they were relentless in tracking down and eliminating disturbances. The manager hopes that once the line is back on track, he can stop the extra 20 meters of line breakdowns and go back to his usual 30 meters of whiteboard daily in different meetings. But chances are that the next project will fill the extra 20 meters of whiteboard again.
Also, as mentioned above, there is not THE ONE STANDARD for dashboards across all of Toyota. Plants, and even sections, have the flexibility to adapt the KPI to their needs. The data sheets may look different, A3 sheets may have a different layout, and the KPI may differ slightly from each other. Similarly, you should not merely copy Toyota because it is Toyota, but instead adapt it to your needs. Toyota tracking the production output on an hourly basis works well if you make 100 pieces per hour, but this would not work if you make airplanes with a plane being completed every week. So, use this as inspiration, but not as a template!
However, while the dashboards may differ across Toyota, they all contain the same main headings. The first one is always safety, because everything at Toyota starts with safety. The next one is always quality, because at Toyota the second most important aspect is quality. After that comes productivity, tracking the output, efficiency, and inventory. Finally, there is cost, because if the other three are good, then the cost will follow. Most dashboards also have a section on the development of the operators. On top of that, most dashboards also include a section on planned production output and assignment of the operators to the different processes. The A3 sheets of the key improvement projects and problem solving are also usually included.
Most of the sheets are typical A4 sized paper, usually pre-printed and filled out by hand, although some data was also printed along with the sheet. For A3’s they also used (surprise) A3-sized paper. Some areas like the operator allocation is often done using magnets labeled with the names of the operator, placed on a plan or value stream of the section.
These dashboards are discussed at least every workday, and quite likely every shift as part of the shop floor meeting. Similar meetings are also held on a daily basis at higher levels in the hierarchy, and the plant manager regularly attends shop floor meetings too. As part of the Toyota UK visit, I also observed such a meeting headed by the section manager. The amazing part was how quickly they went through the sheets, focusing only on the relevant issues, without wasting time for extended discussions.
As I mentioned before, the section manager discussed 50 meters of whiteboard with his team every day. That sounds like a lot, because it IS a lot! It takes quite some time to discuss all these details. But these pale compared to the time it takes to fill them out! Besides, you don’t just want any data on the sheets, you want reliable data for making decisions.
If you are now worried how to do this in your plant, chances are, you can’t. Toyota has quite a lot of manpower on the shop floor to do just that. I wrote before on the Team Structure at Toyota, and there is one team leader for every 4 operators, and one group leader for every 4 team leaders. The task of these blue-collar leadership levels is to a) support the operators on the shop floor, b) do kaizen, and c) record data, usually by hand. Hence, Toyota has much more manpower on the shop floor for such organizational and supporting tasks, which has been sacrificed in the name (but not in the spirit) of efficiency. Hence, when implementing dashboards at your company, ensure the demand on the dashboard matches what your organization can provide!
In my next few posts I will go in more detail on the KPI groups of safety, quality, productivity, and cost, plus some of the other topics. Now go out, keep on reading, and organize your industry!
PS: Many thanks to Mikako Lenquist from C2U in Sweden for organizing the Lean Leadership System in Japan 2023, where former Toyota factory manager and Director in charge of TPS promotion Akinori Hyodo shared his wisdom. Most of the data in this post series I learned from this tour.
Additional thanks to the team from the Toyota Lean Management Centre at the Toyota UK Deeside engine plant in Wales, where I participated in their 5-day course. This course gave us a lot of access to the Toyota shop floor, and we spent hours on the shop floor looking at processes. In my view, this the only generally accessible course by Toyota that gives such a level of shop floor involvement (albeit they want to open another center at the UK Burnaston final assembly plant).
Both the C2U Lean Leadership System course as well as the Toyota Lean Management Centre 5-day course are highly recommended!