The author explains that kaikaku are Chinese characters which mean: ‘transformation of the mind,’ ‘working with others to achieve radical change,’ and ‘to bring new and vital change to your organization.’
The author also defines Lean as an all-out war against waste -- the waste that results from inefficiency, as well as the waste that is brought about by the underutilization of people.
This book presents a fresh perspective with respect to keeping only value-adding processes and optimizing the creative capacity of manpower.
Even as recently as the 1970’s, Japan was perceived by many as a nation capable merely of copying from the first world. As such, Japan was not considered a threat and was left pretty much to itself by more advanced countries.
It was in the 1950’s that the Toyota Production System was born. It was not long after that Japanese quality and productivity resulted in Honda, Panasonic, Yamaha, Sony, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Toshiba, Fanuc, Kyocera, Nikon, and other manufacturing giants which stunned the world.
The author’s intention in writing this book is to share with readers the lessons he has learned in studying these giants. His objective is to highlight the importance of implementing a total system of continuous improvement. He does this through a discussion of the principles of Lean.
Lean has been referred to as Just-in-Time, Kaizen, and World Class Manufacturing. Other terms associated with Lean are Cellular Manufacturing, Kanban, SMED, TPM, QFD, Quality Circles, Hoshin Kanri, Poka-yoke, Visual Factory, Quick and Easy Kaizen, Kaizen Blitz. Essentially, Lean is the study and implementation of the Toyota Production System. This is the system which the author is credited with bringing to American awareness and practice. An example of the reach of Lean can be found on the web site of the Northwest Lean Networks at http://www.nwlean.net/
The Journey Begins
In 1979, the author read an article in the New York Times on the decline of productivity in America.
This marked the beginning of the author’s interest in productivity and manufacturing. This led the author to pursue further studies in the outstanding examples that Japan had to offer.
In Japan, the author met Taiichi Ohno and Dr. Shigeo Shingo. Taiichi Ohno, former vice-president of Toyota, had visualized the new production process that had made and continues to make Toyota the international manufacturing success it is. Dr. Shingo invented the tools and techniques that made the new production process possible.
Though the terms Toyota Production System and Just-in-Time are often used interchangeably, in Japan, the latter is only a part of the former. Just-in-Time is understood to mean the delivery to the customer of “products exactly on time, not before or after, in the right quality and in the right quantity.” Lean manufacturing, on the other hand, is just another name for the Toyota Manufacturing System.
While in the rest of the world manufacturers had attempted to increase productivity by bringing in new or faster machines, Dr. Shingo realized that productivity was the result of both operations (primarily machines) and process (how things are done). With Dr. Shingo’s guidance, Toyota “inventories were reduced by over 90%, quality went from plus or minus 3% to Six Sigma ( 3.4 parts per million), manufacturing costs were drastically reduced, and the time line to deliver products was shortened from months to hours to Just-in-Time.” Taiichi Ohno, as senior manufacturing officer at Toyota, drove the process through Toyota and through all of Toyota’s subcontractors.