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Kaizen Study Tour (Day 1) May 19, 2008

Under the guidance of KPC about 30 people from Europe got together to come to Japan and visit several Japanese factories. I was fortunate enough to be allowed to participate for part of the tour. Each of the companies visited on the tour had successfully achieved excellent results from their own kaizen practices. I have no doubt that everyone from Europe on the tour came away with the impression that Japan has the greatest manufacturing workplaces in the world.

Yamatake Corporation Factory
We visited the assemble line for the control units. Due to their kaizen activities they had been able to achieve enhanced built-in quality that had reduced their failures to zero. Even with a very small product they had been able to manufacture it Just in Time (JIT) with only the necessary number in accordance to the assembly timing. And with no intermediate inventory built up between processes.

ISUZU Factory


We visited the assemble line for the engines. On this line because a variety of different trucks were being produced on just one line right from the beginning it had the largest number of fragmented processes. Thanks to their kaizen operations they had been able to change the those areas with a large number of processes to kit assmbly and introduce a free flow line (everything is moving along on a conveyor belt but certain processes stop temporarily) enabling them to adjust the balance of their processes and succeed in leveling the load of the processes. Furthermore, they had been able to manage the supply of parts to the engine assembly line using JIT.

See here for more details about the KPC Kaizen Study Tour in Japan

Written by Kuniyoshi Takahashi: Production Scheduling Case Book

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