Sunday, December 27, 2009

JISHUKEN STEP 0 - Training

Training usually is held about one week. The purposes of training basically are:
  1. Evaluate TPS theory understanding & skill level of all Jishuken members (before training).
  2. All members join training (Stop 6 Introduction, TPS Introduction, JIT (Just In Time), 12 Steps of QAC (Quality Assurance Chain), Standardized Work, 17 Steps of Productivity).
  3. Evaluate theory understanding of all Jishuken members (after training) & skill level (before Jishuken).
  4. Based on evaluation result, set up target level up for each member (level up target should be step by step, do not jump to the high level).
Training will make sure all members have been ready to implement all the steps.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Standardization as an Enabler

The critical task when implementing standardization is to find that balance between providing employees with rigid procedures to follow and providing the freedom to innovate and be creative to meet challenging targets consistently for cost, quality, and delivery. The key to achieving this balance lies in the way people write standards as well as who contributes to them.

First, the standards have to be specific enough to be useful guides, yet general enough to allow for some flexibility. In repetitive manual work, standards are pretty specific. In engineering, since there are no fixed quantities, the standards need to be more variable. For example, knowing how the curvature of the hood of a car will relate to the air/wind resistance of that body part is more useful than knowing a specific parameter for the curve of the hood.

Second, the people doing the work have to improve the standards. There is simply not enough time in a workweek for industrial engineers to be everywhere writing and rewriting standards. Nobody likes following someone’s detailed rules and procedures when they are imposed on them. Imposed rules that are strictly policed become coercive and a source of friction and resistance between management and workers. However, people happily focused on doing a good job appreciate getting tips and best practices, particularly if they have some flexibility in adding their own ideas. In addition, it is very empowering to find that everyone is going to use your improvement as a new standard. Using standardization at Toyota is the foundation for continuous improvement, innovation, and employee growth.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Standardizing Work for a New Product Launch

The Toyota Way of handling the chaos of getting an army of people involved in creating and launching a new vehicle is to standardize the work in a balanced way that doesn’t give complete control to any group of employees. Having only engineers devise the standards would be a form of Taylorism. On the other hand, having all the workers come to consensus on every step would be overly organic, resulting in chaos. Toyota’s innovative approach is to develop a “pilot team.” When a new product is in the early planning stages, workers representing all the major areas of the factory are brought together full time to an office area where as a team they help plan the launch of the vehicle. They work hand in hand with engineering and develop the initial standardized work used when the product is first launched. Then it is turned over to the production teams to improve. As Gary Convis, President of Toyota’s Kentucky manufacturing operations, explained:

Pilot teams are put together, especially when we launch a new model, like we just launched the Camry. Team member voices are heard by way of that link.

Usually it’s a three-year assignment. We have a four-year model change cycle, so we’ll have an Avalon model change, then we’ll have a Camry model change, and we’ll have a Sienna model change. So there are enough big model changes to have these guys go through at least one or two before they rotate back out.

There is a great deal of learning for team members on the pilot team about the design and production of the new vehicle, and when they finish their rotation they are back on the floor as team members, contributing to and improving the standardized work. This is important, because launching a new vehicle is an exercise in coordinating thousands of parts, with thousands of people making detailed engineering decisions that must fit together at the right time.

When my associates and I studied Toyota’s product development system, we found that standardization promotes effective teamwork by teaching employees similar terminology, skills, and rules of play. From the time they are hired into the company, engineers are trained to learn the standards of product development. They all go through a similar training regimen of “learning by doing” (Sobek, Liker, and Ward, 1998). Toyota engineers also make extensive use of design standards that go back to when Toyota first started engineering cars. Within each section—door latches, seat-raising mechanisms, steering wheels—engineering checklists have evolved from what has been learned as good and bad design practice. The engineer uses these checklist books from his or her first days at Toyota and develops them further with each new vehicle program. More recently, Toyota has computerized these books.

U.S. companies have tried to imitate Toyota’s approach by going right to computers, creating large databases of engineering standards, but without success. The reason is they have not trained their engineers to have the discipline to use the standards and improve on them. Capturing knowledge is not difficult. The hard part is getting people to use the standards in a database and contribute to improving it. Toyota spends years working with its people to instill in them the importance of using and improving standards.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Standardization Is the Basis for Continuous Improvement and Quality

Toyota’s standards have a much broader role than making shop floor workers’ tasks repeatable and efficient. The Toyota Way results in standardized tasks throughout the company’s white-collar work processes, such as engineering. Everyone in the company is aware of and practices standardization. For example, an engineer can walk into any Toyota factory in the world and see almost identical processes. Toyota also applies standards to the design of products and manufacturing equipment.

Managers have a misconception that standardization is all about finding the scientifically one best way to do a task and freezing it. As Imai (1986) explained so well in Kaizen, his famous book on continuous improvement, it is impossible to improve any process until it is standardized. If the process is shifting from here to there, then any improvement will just be one more variation that is occasionally used and mostly ignored. One must standardize, and thus stabilize the process, before continuous improvements can be made. As an example, if you want to learn golf, the first thing an instructor will teach you is the basic golf swing. Then you need to practice, practice, and practice to stabilize your swing. Until you have the fundamental skills needed to swing the club consistently, there is no hope of improving your golf game.

Standardized work is also a key facilitator of building in quality. Talk with any well-trained group leader at Toyota and ask how he or she can ensure zero defects. The answer is always “Through standardized work.” Whenever a defect is discovered, the first question asked is “Was standardized work followed?” As part of the problem-solving process, the leader will watch the worker and go through the standardized work sheet step by step to look for deviations. If the worker is following the standardized work and the defects still occur, then the standards need to be modified.

In fact, at Toyota the standard work is posted outward, away from the operator. The operator is trained using the standardized work, but then must do the job and not look up at the standardized work sheet. The standard work sheet is posted outward for the team leaders and group leaders to audit to see if it is being followed by the operator.

Any good quality manager at any company knows that you cannot guarantee quality without standard procedures for ensuring consistency in the process. Many quality departments make a good living turning out volumes of such procedures. Unfortunately, the role of the quality department is often to assign blame for failing to “follow the procedures” when there is a quality problem. The Toyota Way is to enable those doing the work to design and build in quality by writing the standardized task procedures themselves. Any quality procedures have to be simple and practical enough to be used every day by the people doing the work.

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