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Toyota Unveils Revamped Manufacturing Process

Toyota Unveils Revamped Manufacturing Process | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Toyota broke a two-year silence on a revamped manufacturing process—built on sharing components among vehicles—that it says will produce half its vehicles by 2020 and slash costs.
Michel Baudin's insight:

Other than that Toyota has a plan, the article does not directly reveal specifics. As several readers pointed out in their comments, sharing components across models is not a new idea and is not risk-free, even if executed perfectly, as it reduces the differences between your standard and luxury models in ways that customers may notice. 

 

The most revealing parts of the article, to me, are (1) the reference to VW, and (2) the keyword "modular assembly." Modular assembly sounds self-explanatory but it isn't. It is a specific approach to assembling cars brought to VW by former GM purchasing executive Jose Ignacio Lopez in the 1990s, in which up to 90% of the work traditionally done in a car assembly plant is done by suppliers and all that remains is the final assembly of large subsystems. 

 

The Porsche plant in Leipzig, for example, does not stamp, weld, or paint car bodies. It receives them ready to assemble, in a spotlessly clean facility that customers are encouraged to visit.

 

The whole site is in fact dominated by its visitor center, complete with a fine-dining restaurant overlooking the plant and where new buyers can receive an hour's worth of training on their new cars on the test track. In the same spirit, VW has set up an assembly plant in downtown Dresden, with glass walls to enable passers by to watch cars being assembled. 

 

Modular assembly was used by GM in Lordstown, OH, in 1999, (http://bit.ly/1NnPXwt) and then by VW in Spain, and by DaimlerBenz for the Smart in Hambach, France (http://bit.ly/1xmRyi6). At the time, Toyota evaluated the concept and passed on it. Apparently, Toyota's production leaders changed their minds. 

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Philip Marris's curator insight, March 29, 5:01 AM

Michel Baudin makes the following valuable comments:

(see his excellent news website: http://www.scoop.it/t/lean-manufacturing)

 

"Other than that Toyota has a plan, the article does not directly reveal specifics. As several readers pointed out in their comments, sharing components across models is not a new idea and is not risk-free, even if executed perfectly, as it reduces the differences between your standard and luxury models in ways that customers may notice. 

 

The most revealing parts of the article, to me, are (1) the reference to VW, and (2) the keyword "modular assembly." Modular assembly sounds self-explanatory but it isn't. It is a specific approach to assembling cars brought to VW by former GM purchasing executive Jose Ignacio Lopez in the 1990s, in which up to 90% of the work traditionally done in a car assembly plant is done by suppliers and all that remains is the final assembly of large subsystems. 

 

The Porsche plant in Leipzig, for example, does not stamp, weld, or paint car bodies. It receives them ready to assemble, in a spotlessly clean facility that customers are encouraged to visit.

 

The whole site is in fact dominated by its visitor center, complete with a fine-dining restaurant overlooking the plant and where new buyers can receive an hour's worth of training on their new cars on the test track. In the same spirit, VW has set up an assembly plant in downtown Dresden, with glass walls to enable passers by to watch cars being assembled. 

 

Modular assembly was used by GM in Lordstown, OH, in 1999, (http://bit.ly/1NnPXwt) and then by VW in Spain, and by DaimlerBenz for the Smart in Hambach, France (http://bit.ly/1xmRyi6). At the time, Toyota evaluated the concept and passed on it. Apparently, Toyota's production leaders changed their minds. 

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'Gods' Make Comeback at Toyota as Humans Steal Jobs From Robots | Bloomberg

'Gods' Make Comeback at Toyota as Humans Steal Jobs From Robots | Bloomberg | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Inside Toyota Motor Corp.’s oldest plant, there’s a corner where humans have taken over from robots in thwacking glowing lumps of metal into crankshafts. This is Mitsuru Kawai’s vision of the future.
Michel Baudin's insight:

According to the article, Toyota's management feels that maintaining the know-how to make parts manually is essential to be able to improve automated processes. 

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The Legacy of Eiji Toyoda | Businessweek

The Legacy of Eiji Toyoda | Businessweek | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Washington Post
The Legacy of Eiji Toyoda
Businessweek
He transformed Toyota into a global powerhouse with management and manufacturing processes that transcended the auto industry.
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'Lean' Manufacturing Takes Root in U.S. | Fox News

'Lean' Manufacturing Takes Root in U.S. | Fox News | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
It’s called “lean” manufacturing, and analysts say it enables managers to reduce redundancy, increase output and save capital that can be used to hire more workers.
Michel Baudin's insight:

This article in from April 29, 2011, but I just found it today. The facts are approximate, as you would expect from Fox News, but the video includes a good segment on a raku-raku seat in action and an interview of Jeffrey Liker. 

 

The article presents the Toyota Production System are being strictly make-to-order, which makes you wonder where the new Toyotas for sale at your local dealership come from. 

 

Toyota's system is also presented as centered on collocating designers, suppliers, sales and marketing by project, which says nothing about production... Incidentally, no one who has actually researched Toyota's approach to product development describes it as collocating everybody. 

 

Even the Liker quote about Toyota's not having laid off anybody during the financial crisis, while formally accurate, does not take into account what happened with temporary workers. These workers do not have the tenured status of permanent employees, but some work for the company continuously for years.

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Enterprise Ireland and Lean | Irish Times

Enterprise Ireland and Lean | Irish Times | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"The Japanese are renowned worldwide for their car production where the concept of the management philosophy Lean derives from. It all began at Toyota when the car manufacturers discovered a new, more efficient method of producing cars valued by customers all over the world. The principles learned at Toyota became known as Lean which is claimed can be applied to almost any business. The core principle is creating value by reducing waste and unnecessary risk."

Michel Baudin's insight:

While informing us that the Irish government has an agency promoting Lean, this article reflects common misperceptions. 

 

No, it's not a "Japanese management philosophy." it is an approach developed by individuals who happened to be Japanese, which is not the same. Most Japanese today do not know or practice it, and quite a few non-Japanese do. 

 

And this emphasis on "creating value" is an American talking point, not the Toyota Production System. 

 

According to the article "Toyota benchmark themselves constantly," which is news to me. While it is clear that Toyota is on the lookout for new ideas, I had not heard of Toyota doing benchmarking surveys of competitors. My understanding is that Toyota's management considers such surveys to be a waste of time. 

 

The article equates Lean with Continuous Improvement, giving the impression that it's all there is to it. 

 

And finally, the article repeats the Business Week claim that the Shingo Prize is "the Nobel Prize for operational excellence."

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dumontis's curator insight, June 9, 2013 5:53 AM

Agree with many of your comments Michel

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Toyota's history rests on key textile invention | Long Island Newsday

Toyota's history rests on key textile invention | Long Island Newsday | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

It was a single thread that gave a man a dream, created a little history and displayed the talents of a remarkable mind and a family with resourcefulness in its genes.

Sakichi Toyoda wasn't all that interested in fast-moving machinery, just machines in motion. It's how the Toyota Production System began. It's how an inventor with a sharp eye and even sharper mind built an empire...



Michel Baudin's insight:

A summary of Toyota history with the usual omissions:

 

1. Automatic shuttle change. The ability to stop when thread broke was not the only innovation of Toyoda looms. Automatic shuttle change was equally important, not just to looms but as a forerunner of autonomation, the Toyota approach to automation.

 

2. The German connection. Toyota learned much about car technology from Germany through Kazuo Kumabe and his research team, in particular reverse-engineering a 1936 DKW. The concept of Takt also came from the German Junkers company via the Mitsubishi Aircraft plant in Nagoya.

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Buy More Robots? | Adams Nager | IndustryWeek

Buy More Robots? | Adams Nager | IndustryWeek | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"More robots means lower unemployment and better trade performance. [...] The United States does not lose jobs because there is not enough work to be done but rather because U.S. industry is not competitive with foreign producers. More robots will help fix this."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Really? If you are not competitive, just buy more robots! But wait... Haven't we heard this before? Isn't it what GM did in the 1980s? Under Roger Smith's leadership, from 1980 to 1989, GM spent about $40B on robots, and this investment didn't make it competitive. 

It doesn't mean robots are bad, only that they are not a panacea. Toyota's Global Body Line is designed to use welding robots where they are justified, and manual welding where not, using the same fixtures. 

In an auto parts plant in Japan, I remember seeing a machining cell with old machines served by robots. A few yards away were new, automated lines that didn't use robots. 

It looked very much as if the old cell with new robots was the result of incremental automation, and that the lessons learned had been applied in the design of the new lines. 

Robots are tools. If you know how to use them, they will help you; if you don't, buying more is just a waste of money. 

 

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The top ten lean manufacturers | Manufacturing Digital

The top ten lean manufacturers | Manufacturing Digital | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
From the automotive philosophers of Toyota to the makers of Kleenex tissues, Lean manufacturing principles have been exemplified by some of the world's top companies. Here is a list of some of the best practitioners in the ...
Michel Baudin's insight:

Top ten by what criteria? What is the measure of leanness on which these companies outperform everybody else? The article doesn't say. Most "top ten" lists don't either, but you want to see who is on them anyway. If you know the inner workings of some of these companies, you may be surprised to find them there. You may also wonder what the actions described in the paragraph about Nike have to do with Lean. 

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A defense of old-fashioned WIP accumulation | Manufacturing Digital

A defense of old-fashioned WIP accumulation | Manufacturing Digital | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Toyota pioneered modern lean manufacturing and created a highly efficient and reliable manufacturing system that the rest of the world sought to adopt with huge variations in success. A main thrust of Lean philosophy is to closely examine manufacturing processes, find unnecessary steps and eliminate them. The same philosophy suggests that we should only allow room for value adding steps – in terms of value perceived by the customer – as this drives up efficiency and enables us to manufacture simpler and faster. It is said that accumulating work-in-progress through the process ties-up resources and can obscure problems and is therefore deemed to not add value, so conventional Lean thinking is to eliminate this wasteful step.With this thinking comes a generally held view that Lean manufacturing and Accumulation cannot coexist....
Michel Baudin's insight:

The gist of this article is that you should hold just enough WIP to meet your production requirements with the changeover times you currently have and protect your bottlenecks against malfunction in other resources.

 

So far, this is stating the obvious, and a visit to a Toyota plant or even dealership is enough to see that the Toyota system is not one with zero inventory. You see shelves of stampings, bins of bolts, and trees of wire harnesses. The Kanban system involves some inventory, and, in fact, the only approach that doesn't is just-in-sequence.

 

What is considered waste is not all inventory, but unnecessary inventory, accumulated for no valid reason anyone can explain. The article, however, goes further and asserts that it is cheaper to accumulate WIP than to expose and solve the problems that make it necessary, which is a return to the mass-production thinking that was prevalent in pre-Lean operations management.

 

What the Lean successes of the past decades have shown is (1) that the overall costs of WIP were understated and (2) that the ingenuity of production people and engineer was underestimated. You operate today and next week with the resources that you have, dysfunctional as they may be, and you hold WIP as needed to sustain production. As you do this, however, as an organization, you keep working at solving your problems so that you need less and less WIP month by month and quarter by quarter. This perspective is missing from the article.

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Philip Marris's curator insight, September 14, 2013 6:02 AM

Michel Baudin commented, very pertinently I beleive, on this article (see his insight below).

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How the Tesla Model S is Made | The Window | Wired

If founder Elon Musk is right, Tesla Motors just might reinvent the American auto industry—with specialized robots building slick electric cars in a factory ...
Michel Baudin's insight:

Tesla just released this promotional video showing glimpses of its factory, the former NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA. Tesla is partialy owned by Toyota. 

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Modern automotive lean detailed at LMJ Conference 2013 | Manufacturer.com

Modern automotive lean detailed at LMJ Conference 2013  | Manufacturer.com | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"It is by constantly developing our people and focusing on fostering a culture of continuous improvement that we can hope to, one day, achieve success.

This was the message of the 4th annual LMJ Conference, a two-day event held last week by TM’s sister publication Lean Management Journal in Birmingham. Manufacturing, naturally, made a very important contribution to the conference, with speakers from Volvo, Chrysler and Toyota Material Handling providing highlights from Day One."

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