Toyota Standard Work – Part 3: Standard Work Layout

This post is the third in this series on how Toyota plans standard work. The first one was the production capacity sheet to define what capacity you have available. The second one was a standard work combination table to define when the operator is doing what. Finally, the third of the “famous three slips”, presented in this post, is a standard work layout sheet to help the layout and arrangement of the machines.


This sheet is a simplified layout of the line to show the route of the worker, the inventory, safety- and quality-related information, and information on the takt time. Below is an example of such a layout. Please note that this chart is most helpful if an operator has to operate multiple machines, and hence has to walk. If an operator works only at a single spot without moving, then this chart may not really be necessary.


The header of the sheet contains the usual information related to the process: Part name, part number, date, person in charge, and section. Feel free to expand or remove from this as needed.

Filling Out the Chart Area

The chart area contains the main information. There are a couple of symbols in use, but they are best explained in showing you how to draw such a chart.

The first step is to draw boxes for the different processes and material supplies. These should be roughly placed as they are on the shop floor, but there is no need for exact measurements. A brief name or label will help to identify the boxes (e.g., “Welding Nut 1” or “WN2001“).
Next, we add the different work contents as numbers in circles. These numbers should correspond to the numbers in the standard work combination table. Lines with arrows indicate the walking path. Here it would be clearly visible if a worker has to backtrack and visit a previous station before the end of the cycle.
For the last segment where the worker simply walks back to the first station, a dashed arrow is used. This is to highlight this walking as the end of the cycle.
Now we add the WIP. Each machine that holds a part gets one black circle for one part of WIP (or more circles if there is more than one part in the machine. Use numbers if your machine contains a lot of parts). You don’t have to count the part that the operator is carrying or handling, but only the parts that are left in the machine after the operator moved on.
After the parts, we check which machines are critical for safety. These machines get a outlined “plus” mark. This mark comes from the green cross that is often used for first aid kits. Considering which machine may have safety concerns helps to put attention to safety.
The last step in the chart focuses on quality. A outlined diamond rectangle is drawn at steps where the quality is checked.

There are variations possible. For example, you can have a layout for every single worker in the system. Or you could have a layout that includes the loop of multiple workers. Toyota usually prefers to have one chart per worker, but – as always – you have to adjust the tool to fit your problem.

Summary Information

There is not much summary information. At the lower right corner of the chart, you have a small legend on which you can add the WIP quantity and the takt time. The WIP should correspond to the number of WIP circles in the layout. The takt time is the same as the one from the previous Standard Work Combination Table.

What’s Next?

You have filled out three pages, the production capacity sheet to define what capacity you have, the standard work combination table to define when the operator is doing what, and the standard work layout sheet to have a look at the layout, safety, and inventory. Now the real value of this approach begins!

AllAboutLean PencilYou (possibly with a small team) should go systematically though all pages again and see what you can improve. Can you reduce walking time? Can you move processes closer to each other. Is it possible to reduce WIP? Can you improve safety? Based on these considerations, you modify and adjust the pages. Toyota people (and Japanese in general) extensively use pencils to erase, correct, and improve these worksheets. Depending on the complexity of the problem, there may be quite a few iterations before you are satisfied (for now).

Now comes the implementation part. The plan has to be implemented, machines may have to be moved, workers need to be trained, and so on.

Finally, following the philosophy of PDCA, you should check if the implementation actually provides the desired results. This check should be not only right after the implementation, but also a few weeks later. Most ideas work right after implementation but fall apart soon thereafter. Hence a delayed check is often a good idea.

Goodies for Download

During this short series of posts on the Toyota Standard Work approach, I have used an Excel spreadsheet. For your convenience, here is the spreadsheet as well as a PDF version thereof. Both documents are provided under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, meaning you can use them freely, but should give credit to me at

This closes the short series on the Toyota standard work approach. As always, I hope that this is helpful for your daily work, or at least gives you inspiration for new ideas on how to approach things. Also, don’t be afraid to modify and adjust the approach to fit your needs. Now, go out, get your work flowing, and organize your industry!

PS: I learned about this (and many other things) at the highly interesting C2U Lean Leadership Training in Japan and from Michel Baudin.

Series Overview

8 thoughts on “Toyota Standard Work – Part 3: Standard Work Layout”

  1. When drawing these layouts, I use more detailed shapes for machines, to scale, and mark up with different colors each machine’s operator interface, which must be directed towards the inside of the cell, and the maintenance interface, which should be facing outwards instead, so that the techs don’t have to enter the operator area,

    If there is a required clearance around a machine, it must be taken into account as well. I don’t mark the operator path with numbered circles but instead with curved arrows that touch each machine’s operator interface. These are the points we need to bring close to reduce walk times. I also include symbols for the chutes or gravity flow racks used to bring materials to the various machines in the cell, which must be fed from the outside for picking from inside.

  2. Hi Michel, wonderful comment! Do not stick to some guidelines, but adopt and improve! If it is OK with you I would like to add your input to the article 🙂

  3. What is your opinion on how to establish standard work when the manufacturing plant has minimum machine usage and mostly assembling steps throughout the manufacturing process?

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