Sunday, May 30, 2010

Photos from LSI Japan Lean Tour May 2010

Finally - after being back from Japan for about two weeks - I was able to re-organize the various photos taken by LSI in Japan.  Other members of the program took photos too (perhaps in thousands!) but these are the ones LSI took during the trip.

Take a look! (we apologize that some photos are not oriented correctly).

LSI Japan Lean Tour Group at the Toyota Motomachi Factory in Toyota City

click the link below for the entire photo album....

Japan Lean Tour May 2010 Photos

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lean Extreme Makeover Week

This week, LSI will be busy facilitating our most advanced problem solving kaizen. Simply called the Lean Problem Solving (LPS) methodology, our LPS program has been rated as "the best kaizen methodology" by a variety of clients who have taken this course.  "It's so effective, so advanced, but so simple," is one comment made by a senior lean director at a fortune 50 company recently in Asia, after taking this program.

Part of LSI's Blackbelt and Executive program, the LPS kaizen will be taking place Monday through Wednesday at a packaging company. It is described as "Extreme Makeover Kaizen" because participants only have 3 days to overhaul a company and develop solutions.  Stay tuned for day-to-day update this week!


What is LPS?

LPS is a proven problem solving technique touted in our industry as the most effective methodology for achieving business success.

While LPS – at first glance – appears to be a collection of various lean tools, but it is far more than that . . .


It is a disciplined approach that combines the best methods and tools into a single, standardized “hybrid” methodology that virtually guarantees results each and every time.

Lean Sensei’s LPS methodology merges the best from world-class companies to deliver the most compelling problem solving technique ever.

Six Sigma is Out. Lean is In.

I came across this interesting article from Bloomberg, and thought that I should share with everyone....



Six Sigma is Out. Extreme Lean Manufacturing Is In


Source:  Bloomberg

U.S. companies from food makers to heavy industry to banks are cutting costs by gearing output precisely to demand

When surgical device maker Conmed (CNMD) decided in 2007 to streamline production, executives explored the usual options. The Utica (N.Y.) company could ship more manufacturing to China. Or it could invest in automation.

Conmed chose a third path instead: It completely overhauled its production. Long assembly lines at its 600-worker Utica plant have given way to compact U-shaped workstations. Piles of plastic boxes stuffed with enough parts to last weeks have been replaced by just a few bins containing the exact number of parts needed.

No longer do workers furiously crank out products that languish in warehouses. Instead they build only as many as customers need at the time. Conmed calculates that every 90 seconds hospitals worldwide use one of its disposable devices for inserting and removing fluids around joints during orthoscopic surgery. So that's precisely how long it takes for a new one to roll off its assembly line. A growing number of products, such as instruments for cutting bone, are assembled only after hospitals place orders. "The goal is to link our operations as closely as possible to the ultimate buyer of the product," says David A. Johnson, vice-president for global operations.

Lean manufacturing—producing goods with minimal waste of time, materials, and money—was pioneered by Japanese companies such as Toyota Motor (TM) decades ago. Now a growing number of U.S. businesses are trying a more extreme form of lean. Besides making factories superefficient, they are gearing output to current demand rather than three- to six-month forecasts.

In capital-starved times, companies can ill afford to tie up cash by letting parts and finished goods lie idle in inventory. And these days, even if companies place orders, there's no guarantee they'll get the financing to complete the purchase. In most past recessions, notes Richard Seaman, CEO of Seaman Corp., a Wooster (Ohio) maker of heavy fabrics for industry and construction, companies could generally predict demand for the next month with an accuracy within 5%. "In the past four or five months," he says, "there has been a sea change." Converting to very lean manufacturing helped the company adjust to the new environment. It used to fill large orders in six weeks. Now some fabrics are out the door 48 hours after an order is placed.

TYING EVERYONE IN

The next challenge is getting a clearer picture of what's happening on the customer's end. Celestica (CLS), the $7.7 billion contract manufacturer of electronics gear, is rolling out a system it calls Liveshare. Within two years, the company hopes Liveshare will let all of Celestica's customers, global factory network, and 4,000 suppliers share real-time data on demand, production, inventories, and shipping for every product. Some suppliers already use Liveshare, but the plan is to include major electronics buyers as well.

Say a purchase manager for Best Buy (BBY) needs supplies of a hot video game console assembled by Celestica. Today, most buyers would use phone, fax, and e-mail to assess how quickly Celestica could deliver. But a buyer checking Celestica's online database would see up-to-the-minute diagrams showing how many consoles are rolling off production lines. And Celestica could peer into Best Buy's inventory and sales data to estimate how many consoles the chain needed. "What a tremendous breakthrough this would be," says CEO Craig Muhlhauser.

Not all goods can or should be built to order. Some 80% of Conmed's $742 million in 2008 sales came from disposables sold by the millions to hospitals, where demand is fairly steady. For mass-produced items, it bases hourly output targets on forecasts updated every few months. Before, mass quantities of goods sat in warehouses until they were sold.

At Conmed's Utica plant, the assembly area for fluid-injection devices once consumed 3,300 square feet and had $93,000 worth of parts on hand. Now it covers one-fifth that space and stocks just $6,000 worth of parts. Output per worker is up 21%. Do the improvements yield savings superior to what could be had in China? Wages there, though vastly lower, are largely offset by the costs of long lead times, inventory pileup, quality problems, and unforeseen delays. "If more U.S. companies deploy these production methods," says Johnson, "we can compete with anybody."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Which car is this?

Can you guess?  It was our Blackbelt's favorite car in Japan!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Greenbelt Vancouver Class of Spring 2010 Graduates!

Greenbelt class of 2010 Spring Vancouver

It is with our honor to graduate another group of talented lean champions from our most popular and highly acclaimed Lean Greenbelt Certification.

Consisting of people from all across the country and from various industries (manufacturing, health care, etc), this diversified group of class delivered an impressive "final Greenbelt video."  Each Greenbelt class is tasked with designing, developing, and creating a short film summarizing their accomplishments and performance throughout the class.  With the theme of "Biggest Leaner," this spring 2010 class created what could very well be one of the best videos we've seen.  Everyone participated in the video, but special thanks go to Francesca Baggio, Tom Meierhoff, and Marianne Stewart who are the masterminds behind this latest video.

A number of participants said to us,"It's life changing. It's not like any other course or program we've ever taken.  How can we even explain what this program is to others .... they won't understand the true meaning and purpose of the Greenbelt until they take it!"

Also, we want to recognize the three highest ranking graduates from this class:  Bob Smith, Mike Nunn and Marianne Stewart. 

Photos the top 3 graduates and those who helped with the GB video
from left: Mike, Marianne, Bob, Francesca, Tom, and David Chao of LSI

The Greenbelt videos have been split up into two parts because youtube.com only allows max of 10 min video, and this video is 18 min long in total.

Greenbelt Special Video Part A (of two parts)


Greenbelt Special Video Part B (final)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Definition of Lean Leadership


While the definition of lean in the previous post tends to focus heavily on "tools," there is one section in the wikipedia that talks about lean leadership. Again, I don't agree with everything in the wikipedia, but we do appreciate them mentioning our name (we are honored!).  Take a look at their definition of lean leadership as it is spelled out in the lean manufacturing section of the wikipedia.com.

Lean leadership: source - wikipedia.com (under "lean manufacturing")


The role of the leaders within the organization is the fundamental element of sustaining the progress of lean thinking. Experienced kaizen members at Toyota, for example, often bring up the concepts of Senpai, Kohai, and Sensei, because they strongly feel that transferring of Toyota culture down and across Toyota can only happen when more experienced Toyota Sensei continuously coach and guide the less experienced lean champions. Unfortunately, most lean practitioners in North America focus on the tools and methodologies of lean, versus the philosophy and culture of lean. Some exceptions include Shingijitsu Consulting out of Japan, which is made up of ex-Toyota managers, and Lean Sensei International based in North America, which coaches lean through Toyota-style cultural experience.

One of the dislocative effects of Lean is in the area of key performance indicators (KPI). The KPIs by which a plant/facility are judged will often be driving behaviour, because the KPIs themselves assume a particular approach to the work being done. This can be an issue where, for example a truly Lean, Fixed Repeating Schedule (FRS) and JIT approach is adopted, because these KPIs will no longer reflect performance, as the assumptions on which they are based become invalid. It is a key leadership challenge to manage the impact of this KPI chaos within the organization.
Similarly, commonly used accounting systems developed to support mass production are no longer appropriate for companies pursuing Lean. Lean Accounting provides truly Lean approaches to business management and financial reporting.

After formulating the guiding principles of its lean manufacturing approach in the Toyota Production System (TPS) Toyota formalized in 2001 the basis of its lean management: the key managerial values and attitudes needed to sustain continuous improvement in the long run. These core management principles are articulated around the twin pillars of Continuous Improvement (relentless elimination of waste) and Respect for People (engagement in long term relationships based on continuous improvement and mutual trust).

This formalization stems from problem solving. As Toyota expanded beyond its home base for the past 20 years, it hit the same problems in getting TPS properly applied that other western companies have had in copying TPS. Like any other problem, it has been working on trying a series of countermeasures to solve this particular concern. These countermeasures have focused on culture: how people behave, which is the most difficult challenge of all. Without the proper behavioral principles and values, TPS can be totally misapplied and fail to deliver results. As one sensei said, one can create a Buddha image and forget to inject soul in it. As with TPS, the values had originally been passed down in a master-disciple manner, from boss to subordinate, without any written statement on the way. And just as with TPS, it was internally argued that formalizing the values would stifle them and lead to further misunderstanding. But as Toyota veterans eventually wrote down the basic principles of TPS, Toyota set to put the Toyota Way into writing to educate new joiners. [24]

Continuous Improvement breaks down into three basic principles:

Challenge : Having a long term vision of the challenges one needs to face to realize one's ambition (what we need to learn rather than what we want to do and then having the spirit to face that challenge). To do so, we have to challenge ourselves every day to see if we are achieving our goals.

Kaizen : Good enough never is, no process can ever be thought perfect, so operations must be improved continuously, striving for innovation and evolution.

Genchi Genbutsu : Going to the source to see the facts for oneself and make the right decisions, create consensus, and make sure goals are attained at the best possible speed.

Respect For People is less known outside of Toyota, and essentially involves two defining principles:

Respect Taking every stakeholders' problems seriously, and making every effort to build mutual trust. Taking responsibility for other people reaching their objectives. Thought provoking, I find. As a manager, I must take responsibility for my subordinates reaching the target I set for them.

Teamwork : This is about developing individuals through team problem-solving. The idea is to develop and engage people through their contribution to team performance. Shop floor teams, the whole site as team, and team Toyota at the outset.

Definition of Lean Manufacturing


Do you know where you can find a great definition of Lean Manufacturing?  It turns out that wikipedia, surprisingly, has an excellent outline of what lean manufacturing actually means.  I've included the first few paragraphs below, and the rest can be seen at the link below. I don't completely agree with everything in the wikipedia, since it tends to focus on "tools" vs "philosophy."  As you know, LSI believes that the foundation for lean is "culture and philosophy first, tools second," where as the wikipedia tends to emphasize too much on tools side.  Regardless, the summary is useful for those people who want to understand different viewpoints (keep in mind that this definition is also heavily biased towards manufacturing, even though lean applies to virtually every type of industries).

Lean Manufacturing Definition

By the way, there are only a few companies mentioned in this wikipedia definition.... guess where LSI is mentioned? (you'll need to read the entire link to find out where...!).

Lean Overview - source: wikipedia.com

Lean principles come from the Japanese manufacturing industry. The term was first coined by Bob Hartman in a Fall 1988 article, "Triumph of the Lean Production System," published in the Sloan Management Review and based on his master's thesis at the MIT Sloan School of Management.[4] Krafcik had been a quality engineer in the Toyota-GM NUMMI joint venture in California before coming to MIT for MBA studies. Krafcik's research was continued by the International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) at MIT, which produced the international best-seller book co-authored by James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos called The Machine That Changed the World.[1] A complete historical account of the IMVP and how the term "lean" was coined is given by Holweg (2007).

For many, Lean is the set of "tools" that assist in the identification and steady elimination of waste (muda). As waste is eliminated quality improves while production time and cost are reduced. Examples of such "tools" are Value Stream Mapping, Five S, Kanban (pull systems), and poka-yoke (error-proofing).

There is a second approach to Lean Manufacturing, which is promoted by Toyota, in which the focus is upon improving the "flow" or smoothness of work, thereby steadily eliminating mura ("unevenness") through the system and not upon 'waste reduction' per se. Techniques to improve flow include production leveling, "pull" production (by means of kanban) and the Heijunka box. This is a fundamentally different approach from most improvement methodologies, which may partially account for its lack of popularity.

The difference between these two approaches is not the goal itself, but rather the prime approach to achieving it. The implementation of smooth flow exposes quality problems that already existed, and thus waste reduction naturally happens as a consequence. The advantage claimed for this approach is that it naturally takes a system-wide perspective, whereas a waste focus sometimes wrongly assumes this perspective.

Both Lean and TPS can be seen as a loosely connected set of potentially competing principles whose goal is cost reduction by the elimination of waste.[6] These principles include: Pull processing, Perfect first-time quality, Waste minimization, Continuous improvement, Flexibility, Building and maintaining a long term relationship with suppliers, Autonomation, Load leveling and Production flow and Visual control. The disconnected nature of some of these principles perhaps springs from the fact that the TPS has grown pragmatically since 1948 as it responded to the problems it saw within its own production facilities. Thus what one sees today is the result of a 'need' driven learning to improve where each step has built on previous ideas and not something based upon a theoretical framework.

Toyota's view is that the main method of Lean is not the tools, but the reduction of three types of waste: muda ("non-value-adding work"), muri ("overburden"), and mura ("unevenness"), to expose problems systematically and to use the tools where the ideal cannot be achieved. From this perspective, the tools are workarounds adapted to different situations, which explains any apparent incoherence of the principles above.

Origins

Also known as the flexible mass production, the TPS has two pillar concepts: Just-in-time (JIT) or "flow", and "autonomation" (smart automation).[7] Adherents of the Toyota approach would say that the smooth flowing delivery of value achieves all the other improvements as side-effects. If production flows perfectly then there is no inventory; if customer valued features are the only ones produced, then product design is simplified and effort is only expended on features the customer values. The other of the two TPS pillars is the very human aspect of autonomation, whereby automation is achieved with a human touch.[8] The "human touch" here meaning to automate so that the machines/systems are designed to aid humans in focusing on what the humans do best. This aims, for example, to give the machines enough intelligence to recognize when they are working abnormally and flag this for human attention. Thus, in this case, humans would not have to monitor normal production and only have to focus on abnormal, or fault, conditions.

Lean implementation is therefore focused on getting the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity to achieve perfect work flow, while minimizing waste and being flexible and able to change. These concepts of flexibility and change are principally required to allow production leveling, using tools like SMED, but have their analogues in other processes such as research and development (R&D). The flexibility and ability to change are within bounds and not open-ended, and therefore often not expensive capability requirements. More importantly, all of these concepts have to be understood, appreciated, and embraced by the actual employees who build the products and therefore own the processes that deliver the value. The cultural and managerial aspects of Lean are possibly more important than the actual tools or methodologies of production itself. There are many examples of Lean tool implementation without sustained benefit, and these are often blamed on weak understanding of Lean throughout the whole organization.

Lean aims to make the work simple enough to understand, do and manage. To achieve these three goals at once there is a belief held by some that Toyota's mentoring process (loosely called Senpai and Kohai), is one of the best ways to foster Lean Thinking up and down the organizational structure. This is the process undertaken by Toyota as it helps its suppliers improve their own production. The closest equivalent to Toyota's mentoring process is the concept of "Lean Sensei," which encourages companies, organizations, and teams to seek outside, third-party experts, who can provide unbiased advice and coaching, (see Womack et al., Lean Thinking, 1998).

There have been recent attempts to link Lean to Service Management, perhaps one of the most recent and spectacular of which was London Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. This particular case provides a graphic example of how care should be taken in translating successful practices from one context (production) to another (services), expecting the same results. In this case the public perception is more of a spectacular failure, than a spectacular success, resulting in potentially an unfair tainting of the lean manufacturing philosophies.

continue reading at wikipedia.com (click link below) . . .
 
Lean

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Breaking News: Toyota to "Resurrect" NUMMI with Tesla Motors


Toyota and Tesla to partner on EV production in California

Source: Autoblog

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda held a joint press in Palo Alto, California to announce that the two companies would be collaborating on electric vehicle development and production, with Tesla will taking over the recently closed NUMMI factory in Fremont, CA to produce the Model S sedan.

Toyota will invest $50 million for a private placement of Tesla common stock and the state of California will provide a sales tax abatement to Tesla for capital equipment expenditures to tool up the plant. Musk estimated that the abatement will amount to about $20 million over the next several years.

According to Musk, production of the Model S will bring about 1,000 employees back to the NUMMI plant to produce about 20,000 cars a year at first, and as the facility expands – possibly to include the production of more models – it could employ up to 10,000 workers. Musk revealed that some employees have already been rehired, but was non-committal on the subject of union representation. NUMMI was the only Toyota plant in North America that was unionized.

An additional benefit to Tesla from this deal is that it will be able to take advantage of the Toyota production system and possibly some of Toyota's suppliers. That's sure to help Tesla avoid many of the logistical problems that hampered early Roadster production and costs.

Production of the Model S is still planned to start in 2012 and Musk said more advanced prototypes would be revealed later this year. No decisions have been made yet about additional vehicles to be produced at the plant which previously had a capacity of more than 300,000 vehicles a year.

Official release from Toyota below:

Tesla Motors and Toyota Motor Corporation Intend to Work Jointly on EV Development, TMC to Invest in Tesla

Source: Toyota News

May 20, 2010 - Palo Alto, California, U.S.A. — Tesla Motors, Inc. (Tesla) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) today announced that they intend to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support.

The two companies intend to form a team of specialists to further those efforts. TMC has agreed to purchase $50 million of Tesla’s common stock issued in a private placement to close immediately subsequent to the closing of Tesla’s currently planned initial public offering.

“I sensed the great potential of Tesla’s technology and was impressed by its dedication to monozukuri (Toyota’s approach to manufacturing),” said TMC President Akio Toyoda. “Through this partnership, by working together with a venture business such as Tesla, Toyota would like to learn from the challenging spirit, quick decision-making, and flexibility that Tesla has. Decades ago, Toyota was also born as a venture business. By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business spirit,’ and take on the challenges of the future.”

“Toyota is a company founded on innovation, quality, and commitment to sustainable mobility. It is an honor and a powerful endorsement of our technology that Toyota would choose to invest in and partner with Tesla,” said Tesla CEO and cofounder Elon Musk. “We look forward to learning and benefiting from Toyota’s legendary engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise.”

TMC has, since its foundation in 1937, operated under the philosophy of “contributing to the society through the manufacture of automobiles,” and made cars that satisfy its many customers around the world. TMC introduced the first-generation Prius hybrid vehicle in 1997, and produced approximately 2.5 million hybrids in the twelve years since. Late last year, TMC started lease of Prius Plug-in Hybrids, which can be charged using an external power source such as a household electric outlet. The company also plans to introduce EVs into the market by 2012.

Tesla’s goal is to produce increasingly affordable electric cars to mainstream buyers – relentlessly driving down the cost of EVs. Palo Alto, CA-based Tesla has delivered more than 1000 Roadsters to customers in North America, Europe and Asia. Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. It is currently the only automaker in the U.S. that builds and sells highway-capable EVs in serial production. The Tesla Roadster accelerates faster than most sports cars yet produces no emissions. Tesla service rangers make house calls to service Roadsters.

Japan's Contrasting Buildings



Japan was both educational and inspirational.  I thought I would share two contrasting photos from the trip.... One from Asakusa where Japan's traditional elements are clearly visible. The other photo is from Shinjuku, where some of the tallest buildings can be found.  The round building you see is called - appropriately - the "cocoon" building!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Latest 2010 Toyota Information


This is hot off the press!  Toyota has just released the latest 2010 summary information about its company, its operations, and its products. The PDF document is called the Toyota 2010 Databook and it's filled with interesting information.

Please take a look - not too many people know about it.

Toyota Databook 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Toyota Plant Group Photo

This photo just arrived from Toyota office! (they took the photo for us)
Our Japan Lean Program members pose at Toyota's Motomachi Plant: undoubtly, one of the most important visits during this program.  Visiting "Toyota City" is a milestone for many lean enthusiasts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Funny Moments - Unforgettable






As I begin to wind down here in Japan and prepare to return to North America, I couldn't help but take another look at some of the photos we took while we were in Japan.  We took literally hundreds - maybe thousands - of photos but these three were the funniest by far.   Thanks everyone for the wonderful memories and great time.  We leave Japan with reminders about the importance of "hansei", "respect" and "teamwork." 

PS Can you guess who the funny guy with fake mustache is?  (answer: street vendor in Asakusa who sells Japanese donuts - he always "dresses up" for us when taking photos!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Doing WAVE in Japan

Our 2010 Japan Lean Program participants perform the "wave" during a beautiful lunch at a traditional Japanese restaurant.  The food was super healthy (mostly seafood and vegetables, steamed or boiled with special Japanese flavors) and people loved the restaurant.













Final day with Toyota and Denso

LSI's Japan Lean Program ended Friday with an important visit to Toyota's renowned Motomachi factory and Toyota's largest supplier, Denso Corporation.  The Motomachi factory is the "mother plant" for many plants around the world, and therefore Toyota employees are often sent there to be trained.  The massive global training center is located beside the Motomachi factory.  Everything from kanban to visual boards were observed during the two-hour visit, and the participants all felt that they "achieved a milestone" by visiting a Toyota plant at Toyota City.  We also visited the Toyota Kaikan (pavillion) where we watched the Toyota robot play a trumpet.

For a glimpse of the Japan Lean Tour program, watch our short overview video:






Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nissan Accomplishments at Oppama Plant

Today, the LSI team visited two Nissan plants:  Oppama car factory and Yokohama engine plant. Oppama is where the latest Nissan Leaf electric car is being built.

Though this document is not the most recent presentation, it provides incredible details about what Nissan has accomplished at the Oppama Plant here in Japan.  Already one of the best plants in the world, looking through the presentation provides us with an insight about what was accomplished.


Please take a look at the PDF file provided by Nissan:

Nisssan Oppama Presentation

Toyota Museum

Toyota's Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (we call it Toyota Technology Museum for short) in Nagoya is a mind-boggling museum with massive information about Toyota.  Everything from the history of Toyota to today's modern technology is showcased. Our Japan Lean Tour group spent an afternoon learning about Toyota Way in this historic site!



Take a look at their virtual tour:

Toyota Technology Museum Tour

Nissan Oppama Plant


Yesterday, we viewed Nissan's engine plant.  And today, we complete the "package" by visiting the Oppama car plant in Yokohama.  Designed to produce cars every minute (it takes 16 hrs to create the entire car), the Oppama plant is a highly efficient plant that utilizes flow production principles. Our LSI team learned a great deal!

Sashimi!

Our Japan Lean Program cannot be complete without some great Japanese meals.
Fresh from the nearby Tsukiji fish market, the Sashimi brings subtle flavors.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LSI Team visits Nissan Engine Plant



Today, LSI Japan program participants visited the world-renowned Nissan Engine Plant in Yokohama.  In addition to producing award winning engines for a variety of cars, this plant also hand-produces the incredible engine for the Nissan GT-R high performance sports car.  Built inside a "clean room," the engine for GT-R is built by one operator from the beginning to the end, resulting in a precision product.  Take a look at this factory brochure to get full information about the plant:

Nissan Engine Factory Brochure

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Toyota Records Surprising Profit

Toyota Posts $2.2 Billion Annual Profit


Source: New York Times

TOKYO — Toyota roared back to a profit in the fiscal year that just ended and forecast a further jump in earnings on Tuesday, shaking off the effects of a crippling global slowdown and a safety scandal that has threatened to ruin the Japanese automaker’s cherished reputation for quality.

Toyota thwarted a third consecutive year in the red thanks partly to a strong performance in the three months through March — the period when the Japanese automaker recalled millions of cars and was under the intense scrutiny of consumers and governments around the world .

Net profit for the three months was ¥112 billion, or $1.2 billion, compared with a ¥766 billion loss the year before, as the automaker slashed costs and introduced aggressive sales incentives that lured customers back to its showrooms.

“After taking over amid a storm, I wanted to do anything to avoid a third straight year in the red,” Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda, who took helm at the company in June 2009, said after the earnings announcement. “These results follow tough and anguishing decisions” on the part of Toyota’s management, he said, referring to the automaker’s dismissal of workers both in Japan and overseas amid company-wide cost cuts.

Quarterly revenue jumped to ¥5.28 trillion from ¥3.54 trillion the previous year, when car sales slumped in the midst of the global financial crisis. Revenues showed an especially strong rebound in the dynamic Chinese market and in the United States, while sales in Europe and Japan continued to slump.
Toyota estimated net income to rise to ¥310 billion in the business year through the end of March 2011, a conservative estimate. It expects to sell 7.29 million units, or 53,000 more than it sold this year, the automaker said. Toyota also announced a cash dividend for the full fiscal year of ¥45 per share.

For the past business year that just ended, net income rebounded to ¥209.4 billion, or $2.2 billion, from a loss of ¥437 billion the previous year.

Live Sumo

Right after visiting Toyota Logistics, our LSI Japan Lean team had a bit of free time to visit and watch the world-famous Sumo live!  We were speechless.

Big thanks to Doddy from Alpha for taking some photos for us!

LSI visits Toyota Logistics and Forklift in Japan

Perhaps the best material management and logistics company in the world, Toyota L&F (logistics and forklift) provides full turn key service for designing, implementing and managing a variety of material handling system.  LSI visited this world-class traininng center and spent several hours with our Japan Lean Tour group to learn the latest technique about advanced kaizen, 5S, inventory management and supply chain.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Poka Yoke Parking Lot

Why bother giving "tickets" for expired parking meters if you can just prevent the driver from taking off in the first place until the money is paid?  Tokyo's "poka yoke" (error proofing) parking system prevents unpaid parking problem by simply "locking" the car with a computerized plate mechanism that is raised when the car is parked.  The only way the driver can actually leave the parking spot is to pay the full amount due, which is tracked by a sensor/timer when the car is first parked.  Completely automated and error proof ... only in Japan!

Tokyo Visit


Some of the members of LSI's Japan Lean Tour program arrived early to enjoy Japan.  Bill and Rich from Moulding and Millwork pose for a shot with LSI's Bob inside Tokyo's famous subway.  They are heading to Ginza after visiting Shinjuku.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

LSI in Japan!

Shibuya

Tsukiji fish market

We are in Japan to begin the Japan Lean Tour.  Japan is a country like no other in the world. It built its economic power through manufacturing over the past several decades, earning a reputation around the world as the “lean specialist.”


Even though many lean best practices can be found throughout North America, the truly “serious” lean practitioners still find that Japan is the only place that can showcase lean implementation in its purest form. This is partly because lean can be seen in everyday life in Japan, not just in production or engineering. People who travel to Japan are fascinated by the fact that even restaurants and gas stations utilize lean in a way North Americans have not imagined. It’s difficult to truly appreciate lean until you have seen and experienced Japan hands-on.

Lean Sensei International is proud to have taken a group of North American lean practitioners to Japan for the past several years. We have taken more than 500 people to Japan.The program is intentionally designed to provide both educational and cultural exposure to Japan through various plant tours and historical sites. Tours have been arranged with such big hitters as Toyota and its suppliers, but also with smaller players that can showcase different levels of lean implementation.

David Chao, who was born and raised in Japan and therefore is fluently bilingual, will accompany the group and provide cultural and lean insights throughout the trip based on his 20-year lean experience Just about everything is taken care of while you are there and two bilingual specialists will accompany the group for the duration of the trip.  On this trip, we also have Joey Higuchi and Bob Low in this group.

Japan Lean Tour is part of Lean Sensei International’s “Lean Executive Program.” and also a standard module in our blackbelt program.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

LSI ready for Japan Trip

Next week is the beginning of LSI's most respected and most admired program of all: Japan Lean tour. Designed to immerse participants into "evryday lean living", people will learn so much about the true meaning of lean that it will be overwhelming. Schedule includes benchmarking trip to Toyota, Dento, Nissan, Olympus, and Toyota Forklift. It will be life changing! Expect a lot of microblogging via my international blackberry I am using....


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Malcolm Gladwell

Did you know that Malcom Gladwell, the author of the books Blink, Tipping Point, and the Outliers, is going to be speaking at this year's AME Lean Conference in Baltimore?  He is a fascinating speaker and writer, though he has an "unusual" haircut!  Take a look at some of his speaking engagements on youtube: