Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Toyota Report #1

So much to say, so little time!! My mind is still buzzing from last Thursday's trip to the Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing facility in Columbus, Indiana. I'll write up more in the next several days...I have seven pages of dense notes that I'll try to distill for you.

In the mean time, Gary Stewart of Classico Seating gave me permission to share the following observations. Gary is a fellow steering committee member on the Wabash Valley Lean Network and gives leadership to his company's lean efforts. He and three of his colleages, Shelly Langler, Nell Browning and Steve Williams compiled their list of observations. From this unedited list, you will get a flavor of just what we saw.

1.) Commitment from upper management this is the way it options!!!!!
2.) Commitment and believe in the system from the front line supervisors that there are better ways to do things believing in continuous improvement and that change, is a good thing!!!!!!
3.) Real-time information and status reporting.seamless flow of information and product.
4.) Support staff to support the company goal of change and continuous improvement.
5.) Training the right people investment in training the people that are actually doing the work.
6.) A place for everything and everything in it's place. If it's wasn't needed it wasn't there.
7.) Overall adherence to established procedures and overall work area cleanliness.

1.) The key to every area of improvement was to "Reduce Walk-Time". By analyzing the walk routes by each employee for each cycle, they built carts, racks, etc. to bring the components closer to the employee. This increased the ergonomics as well as decreased Takt times.
2.) Team leaders as well as hourly employees seem to take pride and ownership in their ideas & programs making the implementation process easier.
3.) The supervisors meeting held every 2 hours to update build-off boards. Every employee knew at any time where they stood with the daily build schedule.
4.) The continuous training and retraining of new as well as experienced employees. As well as the diverse cross-training to cover days off. There was complete documentation, so a team leader knew who could cover a particular area in certain circumstances.
5.) Overtime was scheduled on a daily basis at any particular time of the day. No job was left incomplete to "catch-up" the next day.
6.) Every area of the facility was clean and orderly. Every cart, bin, or tote was properly identified with a tag as well as location number so everyone knew exactly what it was and where it went.

1.) Some of the simple things that caught my eye were the availability of information to EVERYONE. Rather it was the info posted in all the meeting rooms in each department, the defect lists in the CIV area, the lighted boards with production info (today, present, goal), the ANDON board with lights and music for immediate problems, or simply the bulletin boards with info posted. Very visible and widely available. Who keeps all this info up-to-date?
2.) The very simple and inexpensive labeling of the kanban racks. We struggle to keep our tags in place. The addition of a tube (we have plenty) with a label covered by one of our clear plastic leg sleeves would work wonderfully.
3.) The absence of corrugated. They used a lot of reusable containers. Much more durable and neater appearance. No disposal issues.
4.) Color coding of kanban cards by department or process.
5.) Ratio of support personnel (material handlers, quality inspectors) to manufacturing "associates".
6.) TIEM had estimated approximately 25% of trucks were built to order or customized. We are in a different situation with 99% of our product "custom" build to order. How would they address the unpredictability of product requirements?
7.) They did mention one of the steel vendors that delivers every 2 hours. How many vendors do they have and how many of them have at least a daily delivery. Do they use their own trucks? How many of their suppliers are related companies? How often do they receive product from Japan and in what quantities?
8.) Incentive programs for associates involved with the lean reduction projects. There is a payback. Not all lean projects result in someone losing their job. They specifically stated where they "reduced" associates, they were not let go, they were simply relocated to another area.

1.) “Insourcing” rather than “outsourcing”. Developing ways to bring in work rather than send it out by reducing costs.
2.) Actual sample parts are on the production floor for the QA inspections. A solid reference point for each person.
3.) Getting and implementing ideas. Consider any idea a Kaizen opportunity. Last month, 712 Kaizens were received. Average is 95% completed / implemented.(This is with a facility of 500 people.)
4.) Move materials into an area rather than store materials in the area. By moving the materials in to the production area, work space was neat, orderly and quantities of WIP were avoided,
5.) Constantly look for ways to improve production. The emphasis is on the flow of the materials and products.
6.) Lists are kept of the “annoyances” and posted in the department or work cell. This provides the opportunity for people from other departments or work cells to offer their ideas, opinions and comments.
7.) Emphasis is on ergonomics. Reducing fatigue has a value in increased output. Although some of the improvements are incremental, the belief is a combination of small improvements will provide a large benefit. (Long term viewpoint.)
8.) Constantly train and retrain people. Use the training records as a basis for advancement into other jobs as they become open.
9.) Job rotation on a two hour basis within the work cell.
10.) Post information on the boards (4’ X 8’) in the work areas. Postings are kept neat, orderly and up to date.
Gary and friends, thanks for your permission to share this!! I hope it is helpful.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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