Weblog Piet Smeding

Towards World Class Manufacturing

Archive for November 10th, 2006

Visit Yamauchi

Posted by smeding on 10 November, 2006



Details about Yamauchi, see profile.

Photo’s of visit; see www.smeding.org/gallery2 (unfortunately no process and machine photo’s were allowed.)

Focus of visit was TPM and visualization

Good presentation about history and activities of TPM, and extensive tour trough the factories

Summarized I can say that Yamauchi uses high level TPM to increase there productivity, with cost matrixes and with vision about new developments, they divine every time new targets for Q-circles for improvement projects, last but not least with visualization they make the goals and problems clear and show the results.

The presentation was very extensive and explained the steps Yamauchi followed from implementation of TPM in 1991 until today. Every 3 – 4 years they stated new/adjusted fundamental policies and goals and realized these with TPM and Kaizen (continuous improvement).

During the years, by means of TPM and Kaizen, they improved productivity and cost down impressively.

For instance breakdown of the machines (more then 50) reduced from 230h. in 1991 to 2h. in 2006 per month. Output and speed of machines, tool changes, etc. was improved by own Kaizen activities.

Several of the sections (particular group machines for range of similar products), are now running in evening and/or night shift totally unmanned.

Direct workers saved by this are replaced in other sections and/or in production engineering.

There are not many temporary workers, so in times of no growth, this will give manning problems, especially because they are strongly committed to not firing people.

They try to solve this by looking/developing new markets, to create in this way still growth.

An example of this is there Q-circle project “YQR”, Yamauchi quick Response, with the target for R&D to bring new developments rapidly to the market. The goal is 24 hours!, when they started in 1999 they had a response time of 30 days, in 2005 they achieved 2 days.

The ratio of new sales products is >50% per year!

In the meeting room, in the presentation, in hallways, at the entrance and on a lot of places in the factory you find publication boards with information about former and actual activities.

Per activity very detailed information about old and new situation, costs and savings, collected efficiently on a few A4’s or A3’s.

Factory tour


After the presentations we visited the factory; the first building was fully loading with molding machines.
They produce here very small plastic cogwheels for video, film and tape equipment, worldwide they have a market share of >80%.

The second building was fully loaded with rubber compound machines and product presses and other process machine.

They produce here rubber drive belts for video and cassettes and due to the decreasing market for this products they introduced some years ago new products,

being guide rollers for printers, copiers, etc.



A good example of the result of different Q-circle projects was the reduction of waste of raw material during production.

At the beginning the waste was about 40%, nowadays the waste is 5%.

The machines are not super fast, some of them are pretty old (25 years), but by retrofitting they are on a quality level of today’s machines.

This retrofitting is based on knowledge management and Kaizen, because detailed data collection and evaluation and continuous improvements gave them the knowledge how to build the most effective machine. With consistent and very high level TPM these machines have a very low breakdown rate, with automation the machines were running in the evening shift unmanned.

The quality was secured with a high degree of Jidoka. This means that the quality control is build in the process.

If a product or the machine (tool) is not ok, then the process stops.


Finally we visited there own company school. They developed very focused and very detailed training programs for operators, teamleaders and maintenance engineers.

A lot of practice with toolings, machines and ‘transparent’ scale models of machines.

Also a lot of theory and practice of visualization was studied.

Engineers were teached the sense and use of FMEA technics.



Posted in Visits | Leave a Comment »


Posted by smeding on 10 November, 2006

After visiting Toyota, Ricoh and Yamauchi plant, we visited today the Komatsu plant.
All four of the factories are real WCM fatories.
I added the photos to the photo album, see link.
A summary of the visits will follow.

Posted in Visits | Leave a Comment »