Lean Japan Tour – Immersed in World-Class Manufacturing
Many Australian companies have recently attempted to implement lean programs, but there are limited cases of its successful and ongoing implementation.
There are some key reasons behind this:
- Companies have never seen a genuinely successful example to benchmark against.
- Companies overlook the people and culture when implementing lean programs.
- Companies miss the true essence of lean due to a flood of misinterpreted opinions and lean learning materials in the marketplace.
Lean learning in Japan – the home of lean
The Lean Japan Tour has been an annual initiative of Shinka Management, with support from the Australian Industry Group, since 2007. It is a fully arranged opportunity to experience first-hand the world-class application of lean thinking at some of Japan’s key manufacturers. Generous time is allocated for open-topic discussions with managers of these companies, allowing participants to uncover how the Japanese have approached sustained productivity improvement efforts successfully over many years.
The tour is led by Shinka Management in association with the Japan Management Association Consultants (JMAC), Japan’s oldest management consulting firm. With its clients, JMAC has been developing many of the famous tools of ‘lean thinking’ for almost 70 years. These are not new concepts for JMAC, and the company has accumulated a lot of know-how in the successful application of lean thinking across all departments of companies and industry sectors.
Past tours have included visits to companies such as Toyota, Panasonic, Rinnai, Sekisui Heim and Kewpie Mayonnaise. The shop floor tours give a comprehensive operator-level look at the factory operations.
The tour will enlighten each participant’s comprehension of lean. They will come to learn the original Japanese thinking behind the concept and its true application across a range of companies today. Shinka Management lean consultants and interpreters will guide them through the concepts and culture behind the manufacturing success story that is Japan. Previous participant companies have come from food, beverage, steel, construction, metal fabrication, lighting, automotive, plastics and other sectors. They all returned reinvigorated and equipped with fresh ideas. Participants gained a better understanding of the application of lean concepts to their organizations, and how Japan, with a similar manufacturing cost structure to Australia, is approaching the challenge of increased competition from the likes of China, India, Thailand and Vietnam.
The tour group is immersed into Japanese culture for the week. Past participants have also used the opportunity to research the different marketing of their similar products in stores, understand what the Japanese retail environment looks and feels like, understand the domestic and international competition for their products, and experience the quality levels of product and service that Japanese consumers demand.
Whether participants are new to the concept of lean, or they are searching for that next level of achievement, everyone will come home with a better understanding of how lean can be achieved. There is no substitute for taking the opportunity to visit relevant like-manufacturers and learn from their experience.
2011 Tour details
2014 tour details
The Australian Industry Group, together with Shinka Management and Japan Management Association Consultants (JMAC) will again conduct its annual Lean Japan Tour from 18 – 24 May 2014. All expenses are included in the tour price except airfares and travel insurance. Learn more about Shinka Management Lean Japan Tour.
This article appeared in the Australian Industry Group’s Exporters Guide 2012 – 2013.