By implementing TPS (Toyota Production System) principles, we are minimising interruptions in our material handling business production flow as we strive to reduce manufacturing errors to zero. Understanding the individual building blocks of TPS is crucial. If you are a lean-oriented company, how can you successfully apply the world-renowned Toyota Production System? Here’s how.
Where to start: finding abnormalities
TPS is about highlighting problems, in order to solve them, so that you can achieve more with less.
Concealing operational problems leads to costly mistakes. Embracing abnormalities and learning from them is essential. By understanding the root cause, we can improve and effectively address issues.
The good news is that it is possible to point out an abnormality without shutting down production immediately. Manufacturing errors can be effectively avoided by fundamentally developing, adapting, and reinventing the logistics chain. What does it take? Read on.
Applying “autonomation” - Jidoka
Jidoka is one of the pillars of TPS, to deliver quality through automatic defect detection. The Japanese term, translated as "autonomation," means that automation must also include human autonomy. The Jidoka principle describes the ability of a machine to shut itself down in the event of errors, quality issues, or production problems. Employees are now able to do more than just monitor machines to detect errors. They become freer to build and improve further systems until they are perfectly safe, reliable and cost efficient.
When a problem occurs, we need to solve it so that it doesn’t happen again. The Lean approach offers additional tools that aim to achieve zero defects. One of them is the Dantotsu method which means the undisputed number one.
Always referring to the standardised work, Dantotsu aims to visualise and treat all quality defects occurring in each department of the company and lets the respective teams treat them based on the 8 steps problem solving principles. It should be processed quickly as speed is the key when we speak about Quality.
Running at customer demand - Just-In-Time
Being cost effective can be achieved by producing what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed. Looking at a process from a lead-time perspective is one of the best ways to better deliver on time to customers and drive significant increase of efficiency through kaizen (continuous improvement actions).
Taiichi Ohno, the architect of TPS, acknowledged the importance of Just in Time in the following way: “All we are doing is looking at the timeline, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point we collect the cash, and we are shortening the timeline by eliminating the non-value adding wastes”.
Eliminating wastes through Kaizen
The Lean approach to business processes aims at efficiently producing quality products through the complete elimination of unreasonable requirements on the production line, inconsistencies, and waste (known respectively in Japanese as Muri, Mura, Muda).
TPS for any business
TPS is a system that can help you manage your tasks better, provide you with clarity of what to do, and evaluate how well you do it. It ensures that you can go on uninterrupted while providing you with the insights to continuously improve. These principles can be applied to any situation or process at work – office work as well – but also in your private life. The objective is to empower people by involving them in routinely held meetings where abnormalities are shared and addressed. Try it. You’d be surprised how much you are able to achieve, even after implementing just a small fraction of the TPS standards. It’s not only about the money: employees will be less stressed and more engaged, and employee retention rates will grow.