By Jon Miller | Post Date: July 28, 2005 3:35 PM | Comments: 0
According to an article today in the San Antonio Express News, a group people from Toyota visited the York International factory a few months ago to acquire air conditioners for the new Toyota factory. Visiting the factory the Toyota representatives said they had never seen the Toyota Production System applied so effectively used outside of Toyota's factories. This is high praise indeed.
This is a result of a 10-year pursuit of Lean manufacturing excellence at York, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS). The employees are trained in TPS and kaizen principles so that they can effectively produce to order in their high mix, low volume environment.
For York to have achieved this in 10 years is remarkable. While some consulting firms advertise "Lean Transformation in Weeks Not Years!" I think my Japanese teachers would say 'muri' - as in 'don't push it' - to that claim.
Even stretching the definition of "weeks" to 51 (just shy of a year) expecting a true Lean transformation, in other words a culture shift in which was Lean becomes truly a fabric of how everything is done, in less than years is 'muri' - not reasonable.
As the article explains, a key element of York's Lean transformation and sustained excellence in Lean manufacturing has been the continued education of their people, ongoing involvement by the people in kaizen activity, and selection of new workers for both attitude and adaptability - the willingness to change.
Maybe the physical transformation happen in weeks, but it can be undone in days without the years of developing the people to sustain and build on the Lean implementation. Lean transformation is an ongoing process.
Toyota is still transforming itself in ways big and small, over 50 years since they began their Lean journey and a solid 20 years after they were world class "Lean" by most measures.
Congratulations to all 369 people at at the York factory in San Antonio, Texas!