Yesterday we did a summary of Mark Graban’s tour of NUMMI, which is a six-part series on his Lean Manufacturing Blog. Today we have a similar summary, this time of Eric Sander’s lean manufacturing benchmarking trip to Japan, which is a three-part series on the Gemba Panta Rei blog.
Part #1: This first post describes a visit to a bolt-maker, where he describes how lean can be applied to traditionally batch manufacturing processes. Later he visited a company that designs and builds custom manufactured homes… using lean methods. Considerable effort is put into removing waste to reduce the cycle time.
Part #2: Eric describes his visit to Toyota’s Tsutsumi Plant. The most impressive aspect appears to be the orchestration of parts… small lots of parts continually moving to the point of use. Also the extensive use of andon lights and other visual controls.
Part #3: This final post describes his visit to Omron Taiyo, which manufactures electronic parts. This company really focuses on maximizing team member efficiency and involvement by using simple supportive automation, tools, and processes. They do not believe that a physical handicap is an excuse for not performing, and therefore they put considerable resources into engineering the workstations.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, visits to other manufacturing operations can provide a wealth of improvement ideas for your own operation. Several organizations sponsor formal tours of plants; for example the Association for Manufacturing Excellence puts on a well-known "Western Region Lean Tour", which visits several manufacturing operations in southern California.