Every time I get an opportunity to visit a Toyota plant, I feel like visiting an amusement park. They have many fancy racks & devices that pull the attention. Similar shape racks & devices exist elsewhere, yet the “soul” is different. “Make a Buddha and don't put the soul”. Let me try to explain the soul, using the Point – Line – Area – Solid thinking.
“Areas” or the standardized work.
Once I visited a non-Toyota plant and saw a “Minomi” rack. Getting excited about so many possible ways to improve the plant, I kept observing to see how materials are loaded. In the end, the operator stopped the production, walked to the other side of the line, and loaded the rack from the container. What is the reason for implementing this “Minomi” rack? A perfect example of “Make a Buddha and don't put the soul”.
The reason why the soul was not necessary for this “Minomi” rack was that every process was designed or calculated that way. Under traditional thinking, every process kept some safety margin between takt time & cycle time. There is no need to use the “Minomi” rack the way it was intended since everybody knows that there is time available on the shop floor. Such thinking destroys Kaizen.
“Solid” or the organizational approach.
“Minomi” rack to fulfill its objective, requires a material handler to deliver the parts in the special cart to each station. Even with the special cart to deliver, if the workers in the warehouse need to double handle the material onto the cart, we just moved a waste from one area to another. So, we went all the way into a process in supplier where the worker was touching the part and connected the cycle of the cart there. When that happened, my father said “finally, one Kaizen done.”
Although his comment was serious or joke is now a mystery, one key lesson that I learned from this example is that traditional thinking heavily relies on mathematics while TPS thinks based on “Point – line – Area – Solid”.
Ever since I read in the last chapter of Taichi Ohno’s “Workplace management” “Standard time should be the lowest time”, it has been a constant struggle with those who simply react that’s not possible. Now, I go to the shop floor with them and discuss these points – lines – areas – solid and coming up with methods to accomplish the lowest time as standard time.