Transform Mass Production to
Run Lean Like Toyota
“Improve faster than your competition – you win” – FitzGerald
If you need your business dynamic and rapidly changing, then Lean Production is the door into the future. Lean Production is a complete business focused system. Mass Production had its place in history. Mass Production is a department based production system, Lean Production is a system based production system. The Toyota Production System is based on Lean Production.
Let’s compare business requirements for each production philosophy:
Mass Production Overview
- the assembly line is producing only a single product
- build is to forecast
- one product produced at a time
- Lots of inventory
- nearly 100 years old
- cost center
- easy to outsource
- continuous improvement is important but scattered
- 100% production line up-time is the important metric
Lean Production Overview
- starting with a philosophy that a Lean culture sits on
- the assembly line produces more than one product
- the assembly line “builds to order” or “changes to order”
- leveled production
- standardized tasks
- seamless integration with partners
- agility is a clear business differentiator
- quality is a driving factor – eradicate defects
- rapid changeover is important when changing from one product build to another
- maniacal focus on minimizing non-value added activities
- inventory is strategic
- rapid problem resolution
- visual control to display deviations from standards rapidly
- executive (CEO) commitment demonstrated by frequent visits to Gemba or site of customer value add
- continuous flow, no pause in adding value to a product or service
- continuous improvement is constant
- flow where you can, pull where you must
- growth means adding new products to the product line
If your business environment is relatively static and unchanging than it may make sense to stay with Mass Production. However, there are some advantages in Lean Production that could also be used in Mass Production.
If your production environment is dynamic and looking to take on additional work, and the company supports a dynamic business environment then Lean Production is the direction to go.
The Toyota Production System used by Toyota is the Business system that replaced Mass Production with Lean Production. Toyota could not afford all defects and excess inventory they noticed in Mass Production plants.
The Transformation to Lean Production. Start your Lean Production Journey for less than $1M and 1.5 years.
A list of characteristics of a Lean Production Plant:
- At the Lean Plant everyone understands the customer value they personally deliver
- At the Lean Plant everyone is engaged adding value for the customer
- There is a fair amount of Automation and Manufacturability is key
- Remove inventory to surface problems
- Management spends time where value is added
- Any line worker is responsible to stop the line if they come across a defect
- Authority and responsibility are pushed down the chain of command
- There exists a tried and true process to determine and eradicate the root cause of problems
- A Lean philosophy is ingrained
- An andon board keeps employees in the loop
- Respect is a two-way street, and
- Workers are confident management understands Lean Production
Improvement means change. Does your company have a culture of change? Is there a pervasive understanding of waste or non-value added activities. Does management want to lead, not emulate? Does the company rely on management and engineers for all the “good” ideas? Let Lean Six Sigma into your environment to give you a fresh view.
Reassess your capabilities and benchmark yourself against your competition. Implement a strong Lean Six Sigma program and attack business weaknesses. This will change the culture of your company and allow you to leap past competitive pressure.
Target situations to move to Lean Production
Lean Production does not work in every manufacturing situation. These are some of the manufacturing environments that will work for Lean Production:
- Flexible Manufacturing: The ability to manufacture either at least two products or two models of one product on the same assembly line (preferably at the same time).
- A product line generates 50% or more of the profit: This focuses the company on what is most important.
- When an expensive, complicated product is built: When options on what is built are plentiful, building to an option is a sweet spot for Lean Production.
- The company is focused on a single product: This may be a challenge for production leveling but if you can overcome that then it makes sense.
- Lead time is long; This means that there is a long time to change a configuration should a customer order come in.
- Management is committed to excellence: Lean Production is a flexible, adaptive manufacturing system that drives out defects while delivering to customer orders.
Lean Production is most effective on a single assembly line. You can’t just lay it down on a manufacturing environment, it is assembly line focused. There are some components of Lean Production that can beneficially be applied to Mass Production environments and we could explore them.
Lean Production, as opposed to Mass Production, is a holistic solution encompassing customer interaction to production result. Toyota has worked on their Production system for over 60 years. For Toyota, it takes a new plant 10 years to come up to speed with the Toyota Production System. Toyota is still changing with a goal to reach perfection.
Toyota Way Principles
It makes sense to review the 14 Toyota Way Principles as stated in Liker, Jeffery K. (2004) The Toyota Way, Page 37. These Principles stand as guidance for running a company with a philosophy that has lasted 60+ years:
- Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.
- Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.
- Use pull systems to avoid overproduction.
- Level out the workload.
- Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time
- Standardized tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment
- Visual control surfaces problems
- Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes
- Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others
- Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy
- Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve
- Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation
- Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly
- Become a learning organization through relentless reflection and continuous improvement
Production Volume – this refers to the rate of production. In other words, Takt time.
Production Complexity – is the complexity or number of parts contained in the product produced.
Lead Time – is the time it takes to move for a product to go through the assembly line not counting storage time after it’s produced.
Build to Stock – a departmental based production methodology (Mass Production) focused on department performance. Base production on forecast.
Build to Order – production scheduling is heavily focused on orders (Lean Production). This is how Lean Production works.
Change to Order – a flexible manufacturing technique (Advanced Lean Production) that changes product features during the production run. This is a follow on to Lean Production and is dependent on the factors in the table above.
A Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt is a master of this process. Let us lead your business to an efficient, quality driven future.
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Toyota uses business to support Lean Production