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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

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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

Kaizen Study Tour (Day 2) May 20, 2008

In the morning, we moved from Narita to Komatsu airport.

J-Bus Ltd
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Visited a bus assembly factory. The assembly line for the buses had to handle a wide variety of types but with only a few of each kind. Because of this mixed variety of bus types that were moving along the assembly line the process fragmentation was very large. The painting and chassis assembly were being carried out at the same time and then ideally the final assembly process was carried out at the same time with JIT. Due to the use of kaizen every process was controlled by order number with the balance of the painting process execution time handled by scheduling.

And in the evening, we stayed at a traditonal Japanese hot spring.


An evening meal, Japanese style!
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See here for more details about the KPC Kaizen Study Tour in Japan

Written by Kuniyoshi Takahashi: Production Scheduling Case Book

Kaizen Study Tour (Day 3) May 21, 2008


KOMATSU Factory

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We inspected a wheel loader assembly line. This factory had a very large number of fragmented processes, which were the focus point before they started their kaizen. Thanks to their kaizen activities they were able to completely modularize their manufacturing and due to the implementation of a kit cart they could optimize the balance of their processes as well.

Thanks to the above, by putting KPC's kaizen activities into effect within the factory, the manufacturing was put in to order, the mountain of inventory was reduced, the few operators were able to work smoothly and the whole factory was able to flow, moving silently with 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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