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Machine - Interface

Today, our life is becoming so much easier since the user interface to technologies is improving rapidly. But what about the user interface inside the factories & service centers? This blog is about user interface using Point – Line – Area – Solid.


· Accomplishing Jidou-ka, separating man & machine’s work

· Eliminating waste on human & machine

· Flow friendly design



“Areas” or the standardized work.

One time I got a project to improve standardized work in a very traditional job shop. They have implemented fully automated machines but somehow an operator could not handle more than three machines. We found out the following tasks that an operator needs to perform on each machine.

[Tool change]

· Tool 1 = every 50 pieces

· Tool 2 = every 75 pieces

· Tool 3 = every 80 pieces

· Tool 4 = every 115 pieces

· Tool 5 = every 130 pieces

[Matrial change]

Every 77 or 113 depending on product


Remove 1 piece

As the result of such random decisions on the frequencies, operators on the shop floor could not handle more than three machines.

High-performance machines are not necessary just about allowing motions but all machine-related incidental works should have some guiding rules.

“Solid” or the organizational approach.

These rules are what make TPS highly productive. For example, the shift break & maintenance is carefully designed concerning both activities. Shift breaks are designed for every two hours so that engineers must design a machine that can run stably at minimum two hours without maintenance. On the other hand, they don’t challenge a machine to run one week without any maintenance and expect to be stable.

Key lesson.

When it comes to machines, we respect the engineering or the science behind them. Yet, just like any technology in the real world have some kind of rules, machines inside plants must have rules to provide high performance. Many of the TPS principles, such as build-in quality, 1 by 1 continuous flow, are such guiding rules. And when we apply these rules, we usually discover new science.

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