In continuation of these blog postings (From the Archives of a Common Sensei), volume 25 discusses how we approached Problem Solving during those early days (early 1990’s) while developing Toyota Industrial Equipment. The documents included here are pre-computerization and clearly demonstrate we didn’t need everything computerized – especially problem solving!  The attached documents are in their rough condition but, are actual examples of a systematic method used for problem resolution, particularly in the following areas:

On the document entitled Procedure for Problem Solving, we have provided the procedural flow guideline for problem solving, especially for Managers and other Leaders (of course in conjunction with all those affected).  On the slide marked Problem Solving Activity, we provide a look at the process used to evaluate and resolve problems and advance opportunities.

Additional documents included provide examples of the Kaizen Activity Report (before and after changes), the Kaizen Report Format, The Bi-Weekly Report of Activity, and the Implementation Schedule for Policy Management.  The Implementation Schedule for Policy Management is used to track the various tasks against established policies of Cost, Quality, Delivery, Safety, and Morale. Additionally, it keeps track of the method, target dates, person/in charge, and lays it out in a schedule for tracking simplification.

The documents in this volume of From the Archives of a Common Sensei we feel it is essential to stress that although the documents included here are not the prettiest, they are valued examples that can show you the basics of value-added problem solving (resolution).  Standardized use of these documents (or similar) will aid in the development of a true problem solving (love those opportunities) culture.  As your organization matures, it will become stronger because of standardized problem solving as described here.

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From the Archives of a Common Sensei Volume 21: SEQUENTIAL JUST-IN-TIME FLOW

One of the unique and valued tenets of the Toyota Production System (TPS) is the ability to manufacture products on a just in time (JIT) basis. Why do this? In addition to being able to respond to customer’s requirements more quickly, using JIT enabled Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing (TIEM) to improve quality by responding quickly to any problems (opportunities), minimize inventory and space usage, respond to any engineering changes, and eliminate waste..

When trying to figure out how your organization can build a sequential JIT flow, perhaps some of the concepts we used in this illustration might be helpful. Keep in mind that we present these drawings and discussions not as “how to guides” but simply as “ideas” to help start you thinking process.

JIT enabled TIEM to improve quality by responding quickly to any problems (opportunities), minimize inventory and space usage, respond to any engineering changes, and eliminate waste. During the early days of TIEM this was accomplished not by “batch” manufacturing and “batch” parts sourcing, but rather “sequential” manufacturing and “sequential” sourcing of parts from its’ sub-assemblies or suppliers as shown in the attached graphic entitled “In Process Inventory Chart”. These sequentially resourced parts were each scheduled for either machining, painting, sub-assembly, or sequential staging according to the main assembly line scheduled model configuration (Mfg. Instruction) and sequence needs. Such a scheduling through the main assembly line from the low to the high number (left to right on the attached diagram), you can see how we built or sourced material in the scheduled sequence to enter the assembly at various appropriate points during sub-assembly or assembly.

Inevitably, a scheduled sequence might require change due to a missing component, a customer need change, a processing difficulty, etc. In such a case, we used the rescheduling approach described on the attached page entitled “Revise In-Process Inventory Procedure” to discuss at the Group Lead (GL) & Team Lead (TL) levels exactly what scheduling changes needed to be made, followed by issuing a revised in-process inventory chart.

Yes, they are approximately 29-year-old drawings, but the approach worked then, and the concept works much the same today regardless of the product being manufactured/processed. Today, at TIEM, the process and feeder processes have become increasingly more complex as new models and required sub-assemblies have been developed! Regardless, the process approach will remain the same or very similar. If you are hesitant to move away from “batch processing and assembly”, perhaps start with a small process line with sub-assemblies and build from there as your confidence grows. Remember, “learn by doing”! If your effort is not perfect, improve on it by learning!

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