Nissan Yokohama and Iwaki Plant Visits | Christoph Roser | All About Lean


Carlos Ghosn – Savior of Nissan

“Overall, Nissan automotive plants have an outstanding performance, comparable to Toyota despite their different approach using much more automation. I believe that Nissan plants are also among the world’s best automotive plants, besides (behind?) Toyota. I definitely enjoyed the visit (but then, I am a geek for such kind of things).”



Sourced from All About Lean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: Thanks again to Christoph Roser for sharing this. Reading this reminded me that, when he took over as Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn left the plants alone. They were doing fine. What needed fixing, he decided, was product design and the supply chain. History has since validated his choices.

Honda Sayama Plant Visit | Christoph Roser | All About Lean

Honda’s 1st product

“Overall, I was not impressed by the Sayama plant. Part of it can be explained by its age, another part by it being closed in 2022 (and who wants to invest time in a plant that will be closed anyway), but there was still enough left over to make this a pretty unimpressive plant. I went away with a pretty bad impression of Honda plants. Luckily, Honda Kumamoto was much, much better. More about this in the next post.”

Sourced through AllAboutLean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: Thanks to Christoph Roser for his detailed trip reports from Japan!

Factory Of The Future | Daniela Costa | Goldman-Sachs

“The factory is getting a facelift, thanks to a raft of new technologies designed to make manufacturing more efficient, flexible and connected. Daniela Costa […] outlines three key drivers of this development, which could provide more than $500 billion in combined savings for manufacturers and customers.”

Source it from Goldman-Sachs

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

Thanks. I didn’t know Goldman-Sachs was the go-to place for manufacturing expertise.

The only departure from classical automation hype is the emphasis on human-machine collaboration. This topic had been ignored in the American and European approach to automation, with the exception of Working With Machines.

Otherwise, she used the word “significant” many times, probably to imply the existence of research and data behind her statements while saying nothing about what that research might have been. I am particularly curious about where the “$500B in savings” figure came from. It is given context-free, so we don’t know whether she means in Europe or worldwide and over how many years.

She also equated automation with the use of robots but that is common in the press.

Re-Translating Lean from Its Origin | Jun Nakamuro | LinkedIn

“The world first became aware of TPS (The Toyota Production System) when Taiichi Ohno published a book about his groundbreaking efforts at Toyota. It was published in Japan in 1978. The Japanese version of his book wasn’t translated into English until 1988. Since ten years had passed, this translation did not fully communicate the nuances of Ohno’s vision. ”

Sourced from LinkedIn

Michel Baudin‘s comments: I have also argued for recovering the nuances of TPS that have been lost in translation, whether these losses are due to incompetence or obfuscation, in the following posts:

In his article, Nakamuro bemoans the “decades of confusion” caused by our collective failure to translate Taiichi Ohno’s thoughts accurately. According to him, Ohno frequently called different ideas or methods by names that sound identical but are written differently, which strikes me as a poor communication strategy, if your goal actually is to make yourself understood.

Continue reading

Continued Evolution of the Toyota Assembly Line | Christoph Roser | AllAboutLean

“Toyota is one of the most visionary car makers with respect to its manufacturing. They continuously and radically evolve and update their production system. Recently I learned about their new “flexible assembly line.” Now, you’ve probably heard about Toyota’s flexible assembly lines producing multiple products on the same line. That is old hat; they’ve done that for thirty years. Their new flexible assembly line involves a completely different aspect of flexibility, with which Toyota surprised me (again). Let me show you …”

Sourced from AllAboutLean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: A must-read post by Christoph Roser for anyone who wants to keep up with new developments in the Toyota Production System.

Toyota’s Way Changed the World’s Factories. Now the Retool | K. Buckland & N. Sano | Bloomberg

Shigeki Tomoyama

“The automaker last month created a single group, staffed with 200 employees, to manage the Toyota Production System, centralizing a function that was spread out through the organization. Their task is to evaluate how core concepts like kaizen, or continuous improvement, can be applied to new businesses that include car sharing and consumer robots. The person in charge is 59-year-old Shigeki Tomoyama, a career Toyota executive who wields a tablet computer during events, making him look more like a Silicon Valley software engineer than a car guy. […] Akio Toyoda says the automaker his grandfather founded eight decades ago needs to move faster to keep up with the likes of Google and Uber Technologies Inc. […] In the last two years, Toyota has opened a Silicon Valley research center

Source: Bloomberg Technology

Michel Baudin‘s comments: The article includes a group photo of the original Gazoo group from 1997 that includes both Tomoyama and current Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda:

Gazoo is an internet portal created by Toyota that is in sharp contrast with the brochureware websites of other automakers, featuring, among other things, articles about classic cars, used cars, road trips in Japan, and entertainment devices for kids during drives. This article is the first reference to Gazoo that I have seen in the American press. It’s unfortunate because Gazoo has been online since 2000 and is an approach to car marketing that deserves attention.

Continue reading

Women Lean Leaders | Cécile Roche, Marie-Pia Ignace & Monica Rossi | Planet Lean

“Lex Schroeder: What value, if any, does gender equity in the workplace hold for the potential of lean thinking and practice?

Cécile Roche: As it has been well observed by neurobiologists like Catherine Vidal, it is impossible to guess whether a brain belongs to a man or a woman…”

Sourced from Planet Lean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: I was encouraged by this opening sentence by Cécile Roche, who runs the Lean group at Thales, and whom I have had the privilege to serve on occasion. As I once heard Gloria Steinem say, there are very few jobs that require men’s or women’s gender-specific equipment, and the rest should be open to everybody.

Continue reading

Countries Don’t Have Production Systems, Companies Do

Kobe Steel CEO apologizing (10/2017)

“Companies Everywhere Copied Japanese Manufacturing. Now the Model Is Cracking. Concepts celebrated in business publications worldwide have been tarnished by a string of scandals.

Japan’s reputation for flawless manufacturing quality and efficiency transformed the country’s postwar economy, changed business practices worldwide and spawned a library’s worth of management manuals and business advice books. Now, the model is cracking.

Kobe Steel Ltd., Mitsubishi Materials Corp., and Subaru Corp. have all admitted in recent months to manipulating quality inspections, though all say no safety problems emerged. Takata Corp. declared bankruptcy last year after admitting to supplying more than 50 million defective vehicle airbags in the U.S. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has admitted covering up vehicle faults and falsifying fuel-economy data.”

Sourced from The Wall Street Journal

Michel Baudin‘s comments: What does the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal say about eyeglass lenses and telescopes made by Zeiss or A320s assembled by Airbus in Hamburg? Nothing. Factories for these companies are all located in the same country but a lapse by one is just that, and the Wall Street Journal did not publish articles suggesting that it made a statement about German industry as a whole. When it comes to Japan, however, this is exactly what they are doing with this article, assuming there is such a thing as “Japanese manufacturing,” which is blemished by the misbehavior of any Japanese company.

Continue reading

Why It Makes Sense (Sometimes) to Start With Hoshin Kanri | Dan Markovitz | IndustryWeek

“Strategy deployment is a powerful way to get the leadership team involved in the lean journey.For a long time, I’ve been dismissive of organizations that want to start their lean journeys with hoshin kanri, (also known as strategy deployment). When you’ve got a company where people are not engaged (at best) or suspicious of management (at worst), it seems to me that getting people involved in everyday improvement to make their jobs easier is a better place to start.[…] Until now. Recently, my colleague and friend Katie Anderson pointed out something I’ve completely missed: that strategy deployment is a powerful way to get the leadership team involved in the lean journey.”

Sourced through IndustryWeek

Michel Baudin‘s comments: As I have great respect for both Dan Markovitz and Katie Anderson, I have to paraphrase Judge Haller from My Cousin Vinny, “That is a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out argument… Overruled.”

The flaw I see in Dan’s argument is that it only addresses employee engagement, which isn’t the only reason to start with local, tactical shop-floor projects with both technical and managerial content. In an organization that is just starting on its journey, the successful initial projects are most commonly setup time reduction or cell conversion of a process segment. Besides engaging employees, they also produce tangible improvements, develop technical and managerial skills, and let leaders emerge.

Continue reading

Innovation, Logistics, and Lean


Amonth ago, a reader asked Michael Ballé “If lean really is about innovation, why does so much of it seem to be about logistics, with truck preparation areas, leveling boxes, small trains, kanbans and so on?” His short answer “because logistics is the way into innovation” is a head scratcher and I fail to see any support for this assertion in the rest of his response.

While TPS and, more generally, the Toyota Way are innovative in the management and technology of operations, discussions of innovation are usually about products. Even in the car industry, which companies come to mind today about product innovation? Which ones would you want to learn from? Most likely not Toyota but Tesla for its electric cars and Alphabet/Google’s subsidiary Waymo for self-driving cars, both based in Silicon Valley.

Continue reading