CCI hosts world leading lean practitioner
Andrew Canion | Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia | February 2015
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.
The tour included site visits to a range of manufacturing and food production firms that have embraced lean thinking, bringing to life concepts such as 5S, kanban, poka-yoke and jidoka.
5S, which translates in English as ‘sort, straighten, shine, standardise and sustain’, forms the backbone for other improvement opportunities within the lean mentality.
Isuzu, a steel-cutting and distribution business, presented a great example of 5S in practice. The workshop floors were polished to a shine, there was not a glimpse of dirt, and only items that were actively used were held at workstations. Locations for all materials were clearly marked and safe walkways were demarcated from the plant areas. For what would generally be considered a ‘dirty’ industry, their manufacturing floor was a thing of beauty! This all supports their main focus — to provide a safe workplace that can operate at great efficiency.
“The workshop floors were polished to a shine, there was not a glimpse of dirt, and only items that were actively used were held at workstations.” – Andrew Canion
The tour also provided an opportunity to see the assembly line of the Toyota Hi-Ace vehicle, manufactured by Gifu Auto Body. At this firm, each workstation was designed to optimise efficiency. Andon cords were always close to hand, so workers could call for help if there was a minor problem, or to stop the entire line if the problem escalated. The whole factory operated in unison according to takt time (from the German word Taktzeit or meter), essentially the pace at which the assembly line must operate such that production cycle times match customer demand.
Although the tools associated with lean manufacturing are fascinating, both for their simplicity and effectiveness, the most important aspect was building an understanding of how to implement and sustain a lean culture within an organisation.
The Lean Japan Tour was run by lean training and consulting firm Shinka Management and supported by Ai Group, a partner organisation of CCI.
Local Lean Masterclass
WA firms now have the unique opportunity to learn from one of the world’s leading lean manufacturing practitioners, Akinori Hyodo, when he presents a lean manufacturing Master Class at CCI on 16 and 17 February, hosted by Shinka Management. It was Hyodo Sensei that provided so much insight during my tour to Japan.
A former Toyota factory manager and kaizen leader, Hyodo has built a 40 year career as a lean sensei fostering the Toyota Production System (TPS) within Toyota, its supply-chain, and more recently within non-automotive companies.
Now retired, Hyodo Sensei heads the kaizen training arm of that Toyota factory providing lean training courses for companies in Toyota’s supply chain.