Taiichi Ohno is often quoted as declaring: “Without a standard, there can be no improvement.” The principles of lean do not work well when everyone is allowed to choose their own work method or work sequence in which to do a job: the outcome is unpredictable; flow and pull are impossible. This reduces throughput and the carefully crafted process develops unanticipated outcomes.
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Batch and queue is the hallmark of a mass production system. Parts are processed, moved in large quantities to the next process, wait for their turn, are processed, and moved as a batch to the next process.
Here’s something you can cut out and hang on your bulletin board if you run a manufacturing company, large or small. I’ve spent nearly 60 years thinking about the factory floor, and here’s how I believe it should be run.
I traveled to Toyota headquarters in Japan with Jeff Liker for a research project. We wanted to learn more about the engineering and collaboration that created the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the strategy and innovation behind hydrogen vehicles, and how they had adapted and improved their development system to meet the increasing demands of the ultra-competitive global auto industry.
To remain competitive in the fiercely contested North American automotive industry, the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI, Fremont, CA) assembly plant, a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corp. (Aichi Prefecture, Japan) and General Motors Corp. (Detroit), has rededicated its efforts in lean manufacturing during the past few years by applying key tenets of the Toyota Production System (TPS).
Lean manufacturing principles and automation systems can coexist, although many lean purists contend that lean goals conflict with using automation. Smart applications of automation, however, can result in deployment of systems that are both automated and lean, with flexible manufacturing systems that can be easily reconfigured as factory operations change.
Common misperceptions about lean manufacturing and automation systems lead many manufacturing managers to dismiss the use of automation in a lean setting.
Challenged by an increasingly niche-oriented automotive market, The Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI) must increase the number of models it offers while decreasing its capital investment. The company plans to offer 50% more models in 2009 compared to 2004, according to John Felice, VP of manufacturing, technology and global enterprise for Chrysler.