We have again had the pleasure of visiting one of our favourite companies in Japan – and one that clients on our regular Japan study mission continuously rate as a standout experience of their time in Japan. As a lean factory, this company is an excellent example, and the benefits flowing from their lean culture in terms of safety, quality, productivity, shortened lead times and improvement in market share are impressive.
If you only ever read one book on the Toyota Production System or Lean Manufacturing then this book by Taiichi Ohno is the one. There are hundreds of books and articles written about TPS / Lean Manufacturing but none provide the foundations that this book by Taiichi Ohno does. It will help you set your baseline on where to start when considering if the concepts developed for TPS are likely to be suitable for your business.
The big news in the automotive industry last month was the escalation of the ongoing Takata airbag affair. The fault in the airbag inflators was initially brought to the public’s attention with a recall of a limited number of vehicles in 2013. We have since had Takata state that it is does not know which airbags have been supplied for use in which vehicles, with worldwide recalls following involving dozens of models from several car manufacturers.
Lean is a continuous improvement philosophy which is synonymous with Kaizen or the Toyota Production System. The history of lean management or lean manufacturing is traced back to the early years of Toyota and the development of the Toyota Production System after Japan’s defeat in WWII when the company was looking for a means to compete with the US car industry through developing and implementing a range of low-cost improvements within their business.
Our most recent Lean Japan Tour was held during the 18th through 24th of May in Tokyo and Nagoya, with the aim of showcasing the rich history that Japanese industry has in the fields of lean manufacturing, industrial engineering and continuous improvement (kaizen). The kaizen tour has been an annual initiative of Shinka Management for the past eight years and is designed to provide companies with lean training and first-hand experience of the world-class application of kaizen within Japanese industry.
Kavanagh Industries is a Western Sydney success story, specialising in the manufacture of sheet metal ducting. In February 2014, Managing Director Aidan Kavanagh invited members of the local lean community to join a factory tour of Kavanagh Industries’ Smithfield facilities. Kavanagh Industries is a family business that has grown to become Australia’s leading sheet metal duct manufacturer.
In November 2013 two staff from Lion’s brewing operations joined us on our Lean Japan Tour, and on their return kindly agreed to host a brewery tour at their Castlemaine Perkins Brewery this February for our clients in South East Queensland and local members of the Australian Industry Group. Lion is well-known in Australia as a leading beverage and food company employing 7,500 staff.
On the afternoon of the 3rd of February 2014, 38 leaders of South Australian industry gathered in Lonsdale for a factory tour of Redarc Electronics. The event was one of four organised in Australia in early 2014 by Shinka Management, with the Redarc tour held with the support of the Australian Industry Group. The company has over three decades of experience in designing and manufacturing electronic voltage converters and related products for commercial and recreational vehicles.
Since visiting for the first time in 2011, I have been fascinated with the level of lean excellence at Rinnai. I recently had the pleasure to interview Mr Masao Kosugi, Director of Rinnai Corporation. Kosugi has been at Rinnai since they first started studying the Toyota Production System (TPS). Being a leading Japanese corporation, I am sure Rinnai were practicing a quite reasonable level of lean back in 1979. But a visit from Toyota’s Taiichi Ohno changed everything.
Mr Peter Gardner, Global Manufacturing Engineering Director, TI Automotive held a presentation to the South Australian Lean Manufacturing Special Interest Group in May 2013. The talk focused on having the right motivation and attitude towards lean implementation, and discussed the use of consistent standards and assessment systems within production sites spread across the globe.