Jun 23 2014
Paula Lillard is now the bright hope for nth/works. She has come to help instill the Toyota Production System — or TPS — for a supplier that urgently wants it.
This article paints a picture of what implementing Lean is really all about. It starts from the business needs of a parts supplier to the household appliance industry that wants to move into auto parts, where tolerances are tighter.And implementation is centered around what Lillard calls giving the plant “a little TLC.”
According to the article, her first task was “to ask employees to write and create step-by-step instructions on how to do their jobs.” This is a far cry from all the nonsense about starting with 5S. It does not require value-stream maps, and it cannot be done in so-called “Kaizen events.”
Instead, it is patient work that requires time and perseverance.There is a TPS twist on work instructions — using A3 sheets posted above workstations rather than 3-ring binders on shelves — but such instructions have been recognized as essential since the 19th century, and have been part of the industrial engineering curriculum since its inception, decades before Toyota was started.
Yet, the article implies that a stamping parts manufacturer in the American Midwest survived for 70 years without them. Having seen many plants with non-existent or ineffective job instructions, I believe it, and it raises many questions.