When Akinori Hyodo started work at a Toyota factory in Japan more than 40 years ago, he could never have imagined Australian business people would one day be hanging off his every word. But earlier this year, a group of Queensland executives crowded into an Australian Industry Group meeting room to hear Hyodo give a lecture on the Toyota Production System, a half-century old method of boosting efficiency, also known as lean manufacturing.
Shinka Management in the Press
Shinka Management held the first of their Australian Lean Leadership Master Classes at CCI in February this year, which brought the experience and teachings of Lean Sensei Akinori Hyodo to Western Australia. Akinori Hyodo, or Hyodo Sensei, is the former factory manager of the Toyota HiAce factory, consistently ranked first for quality out of all Toyota factories.
Toyota Australia is on the way out but the Toyota manufacturing and managerial ethos could well be on the way in. The Toyota Production System – also known as lean manufacturing, lean production, just-in-time production and the Toyota Way – is as famous as it gets in the world of manufacturing and managerial theory and there’s still demand among local companies to know how it works.
WA businesses as diverse as Monadelphous and Jason Windows are tapping the management know-how that has moulded Japan’s industrial powerhouses. So-called “lean” management encapsulates various philosophies and practices but is best associated with Toyota’s production system.
Lean manufacturing is one of Japan’s most valuable competitive advantages in a global market place. I travelled to Japan last year to learn more about what it is, how it operates in practice, and — most importantly — bring home knowledge to support Western Australian businesses.
Chocolate was the background yesterday to a two day management master class in keeping it lean in Adelaide. Thirty executives, from South Australian industries ranging from food and beverage to steel, were at Haigh’s factory in Mile End yesterday to listen to Toyota veteran Akinori Hyodo talk about lean manufacturing and kaizen, the Japanese art of continual improvement.
Japanese management techniques drawn straight from the production lines of that country’s industrial giants are making a surprising contribution to Australian firms as diverse as tech darling REA Group and transport operator Metro Trains. So-called “lean” production methods are exemplars of the rigour and consistency that Japanese industry — and indeed society — is known for.
Japan has been a beacon for success in manufacturing for over half a century, yet it has faced challenges that would have crippled another nation – a market downturn caused by the global financial crisis, the 2011 triple disaster, and a drop in exports to China, and the high value of the yen to name a few.
Lean manufacturing is a production philosophy that has evolved out of practices made famous by Japanese industry over the past several decades. During the week-long study tour participants learned about the implementation of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement practices in some of Japan’s top companies.