From the Archives of a Common Sensei volume 31: Differences Between Other Factories and Toyota Industrial Equipment


By volume 31 of this blog series which discusses the history of Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIEM) and as of recently, Toyota Material Handling, you might think that I have run out of content to write about. You would be wrong! This Common Sensei dug deeper into his archives and discovered even more to write about and content examples to convey.

In today’s volume, I have attached a copy of a simple one-page document that we used in the early TIEM days to help new associates better understand, in simple terms, the difference between “Other Factories” and “TIEM.” The message was targeted to convey essential differences between other factories and TIEM in the areas of:

  • Focus
  • Line/Staff Role
  • Data Collection
  • Source of Information/Action
  • Standard of Comparison
  • Role of Management

In a recent LinkedIn article entitled “Work Improvement before Equipment Improvement (October 5, 2021 by Christoph Roser), the discussion of the importance of associate training and the changing of standards when needed, is an example that expresses the need for a shared focus on the above listed items.  The journey from how “Other Factories” operate to how “TIEM” operated, is not an easy transition, but that journey has been and can be traveled with high success by the shifting of leadership mindsets to one that includes openness to associate inputs (you know, the people who actually do the job every day), and letting those inputs help shape improved standards and improved outcomes.  Yes, the ”Role of Management” is still there to set direction, establish commitment, marshal resources, measure results, and encourage improvement, but do so through training and mutual/shared responsibilities. I was fortunate enough to be a part of TIEM form pre-startup and for approximately eight years of the buildup years. We used the approaches mentioned in the attached list to start the creation of a business that has turned out to be a world leader in the industrial equipment market. From these early beginnings, many businesses have benefitted from how Toyota culture and practices work. The organization does not have to be manufacturing (as in the example), The same concepts have helped banking, Wall Street trades processing, hospitals, multiple governmental organizations (State, Local, and Federal), where and when the leadership was/is open to diverse ways to improve the organization, they serve in. By this I mean when the leadership takes it on themselves to internalize the need and act on the solicitation and integration of ideas (at all levels) to better serve their customers, while improving the processes and quality, cost and profit benefits will follow.

From the Archives of a Common Sensei volume 30: ENGINEERING CHANGE PROCEDURE FOR NON-INTERCHANGEABLE PARTS (Imported Purchased Parts)


This volume of From the Archives of a Common Sensei is a continuation of volumes 28 and 29 and discusses the Engineering Change Procedure for Non-Interchangeable Imported Parts. This volume discussion will close out our three-volume series (28, 29 and 30) on the topic of engineering change. As referenced in Blog volume 28, during the early days (1990’s) of Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIEM) in the US, we had to give consideration to many different processes as we developed the manufacturing operations. In my previous blog postings, I have tried to describe in (short form) how we went about many of these operational developments.

In this volume 30, I present the process for imported but non-interchangeable parts. As in volumes 28 and 29, the handwritten original examples are too big to display at the same time, so I split this engineering change process into three volumes to simplify the overall process of engineering change. Some of you might be more concerned with an engineering change procedure for domestic parts and some might be more concerned with imported parts. The three articles in Blogs 28, 29, and 30 are presented here to potentially give you ideas for your organization.

In the example supplied here (Vol. 30) for Imported Non-Interchangeable Purchased Parts, it is again noted that during those early days of the TIEM startup (1989+) the engineering was done by the TIEM parent company (TAL) and delivered to the TIEM operation (Domestic Company) in Columbus, Indiana. From that point, the process example tracks through the Parental Company actions, Domestic Company Engineering Section, Production Section, and the Material Control Section, and Accounting. The procedure includes steps for checking inventories, Kanban handling, change date determination from old parts to new parts, receiving of new parts, and how to manage the associated Kanban’s. As stated in previous blog volumes, in the mid-1990’s a substantial portion of product engineering was a joint effort by the local facility and the parent company in Japan. In previous blogs, I have also explained how we encouraged our customers, plant associates, and managers to work with Engineering to create improvements in quality, cost, convenience, service needs, etc. Again, this example, and the previous examples (Vol. 28 and 29), are intended only as examples from which you may be able to gain some ideas.

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