How to make Lean work! – Inventory

Taichi Ohno’s mind was triggered when he saw an America supermarket where the store shelves had very little inventory of each item and when the item was removed by the shopper, the store clerk very quickly replaced the inventory.

He recognized that this was possible at Toyota. He knew that inventory was a terrible waste: waste of money tied up in the inventory, waste in space, and waste in having large lot sizes.

He asked Shigeo Shingo, an independent consultant, to help Toyota reduce their lot sizes by reducing the time of the change-overs. He said to Shingo, “I want you to reduce the change-over time on this punch press from four hours to two hours.” Shingo said, “Okay.”

Ohno came back a few days later and told Shingo, “Reduce the change-overs to less than ten minutes.” Shingo said, “Okay.”

Ohno always asked for the impossible. He would tell a department manager to reduce the number of people working in his/her department by 40%, give them three months to do it and then walked away. He would never tell them “How to do it.”

One day at Toyoda Gosei, he looked at a warehouse and told the top managers, “At Toyota we do not have warehouses. Get rid of this; make it into a machine shop and retrain all of the employees to become mechanics.” I give you one year to do it.” He walked away and never told them how to do it. But the did.

Shingo miraculously looked at the punch press and figured out how to reduce the changeovers from four hours to under ten minutes. Go to Toyota today and you will see this on all of their presses. This saved Toyota billions of dollars and became the “heart,” of their Just-in-time system.

I was with Shingo at a gasoline pump manufacturer where he challenged a group of engineers to reduce a change-over from two hours to under ten minutes. He taught them for one hour, and gave them three hours to prepare, came back and watched them do it in 12 minutes.

Read Shingo’s “white” book on quick die change and make sure all of your change overs are done in less than ten minutes. In fact, at Toyota today many of their change-overs are “one-touch,” done in seconds.

Shingo’s favorite phrase was, “Do it.”

And please read my new book.

Great book! Worth the read!” – Jim Garrick