Weblog Piet Smeding

Towards World Class Manufacturing

Archive for the ‘WCM-course (UK)’ Category

WCM course organized by EU-Japan centre

Visit Toyota Tsutsumi plant

Posted by smeding on 15 November, 2006

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

Focus of visit was Toyota Production System (TPS)

Toyota is not an ‘open company’. The factory tour was only 50 minutes where “daily visitors” could already visit the welding shop, paint shop and assembly lines to the extend of 2,5 hours.
We were only allowed to see the assembly line in a very rapid time, no photo taking and no talking with operators and team leaders. Also the Q&A session after the visit was disappointing, the production manager and others who attended were very reserved in there answers. The main reason was that some of our group members were related directly our indirectly with the car industry in Europe.

The visit to the Toyota Customer Centre and the presentation about TPS in the afternoon compensated a lot. The info centre, new developments, explanations of principles, and a very good presentation and very open Q&A session with Mr. Kiuma, the President of the Toyota Support Centres. Mr. Kiuma lead in the past for several years the TSC in Brussels.
The basics of the Toyota success and the pillars of the system are shown in a more detailed presentation I made.

What we have seen in the assembly factory was in line with the principles they presented us;

  • JIT is practised extensively by the use of KanBan, in the whole supply chain, from 1st tier supplier, via welding shop, painting and component and part sets manufacturing, the material flow is controlled by KanBan. The only exceptions are the moulding and casting parts which are produced in batches.
  •  Toyota is not outsourcing globally.
    Domestic they have appr. 20 manufacturing plants, 8 of them are assembly plants, the rest are component production and assembly plants, delivering to the assembly plants.
    They benchmark there own plants regularly with global suppliers, if there is a gap they startup Kaizen activities to fill the gap.
  • Jidoka, build in quality control is also implemented extensively, if a problem occurs the andon (visualizing Andonboardwhere problem is) activates, if the problem is not solved within the takttime the process stops.
  • with Kaizen-Circles they improve continuously the processes and solve problems back to the root, everything of the activity is visualized on only a few A4 or A3 papers. (In whole Toyota organization they had in 2005 more then 600.000 kaizen proposals, of which more then 60% were implemented. Often by the operators and team leaders themselves, or with help of the support centre.
  • New product developments are taking approximately half of the time as in Europe. Main reasons are extensive knowledge management (everything is evaluated and registered very detailed) and they ‘copy and make better’, 80% of a new car consists of existing parts!
  • The operating income of Toyota is quiet stable for years around 9%, this is not extraordinary, but they realize this also in ‘bad’ times, by reacting quickly on changing situations. The inventory turnover of the Tsutsumi plant is with appr. 200 extremely high, also the 1st tier suppliers, who are mainly owned by Toyota, have a high turnover, the stocks are moved upstream to the 2nd tier and further suppliers.

I made a more detailed report about the impressions and learnings during all the visits, and I made a powerpoint presentation explaining the Toyota Production System (TPS). Both are available on request. Pillars


Posted in Visits | 12 Comments »

WCM – The Japanese Way

Posted by smeding on 13 November, 2006

Prof. Em. Dr. Yamashina
Osaka 06-11-2006
See “Profile of Dr. Yamashina”  for his background and activities.
Below a short summary of the lecture, covering the following subjects; 

  • Time and innovation in Japan
  • Ten Keywords to understand manufacturing in Japan
  • Strength comparisons between the West and Japan
  • What is WCM in Japan
  • Seven staps toward WCM
  • Major activities to support WCM

Time and innovation in Japan
Until mid seventies there was a sellers market where the focus was on volumes, measurements on;

  • Productivity;
  • OEE;
  • Output/hour;
  • Number of machine breakdowns;
  • Defect rates, etc. 

From mid seventies until approximately mid nineties there was a buyers market where the focus developed in 3 steps;
1. Diversification, managing on;

      a. Number of claims from the customers;
      b. Direct going rate
      c. Manufacturing lead time;
      d. Delivery lead time;
      e. Stock turns, etc.
2. Constantly launching new products, managing on;
      a. Product development lead times;
      b. Man hours to develop;
      c. New products per year;
      d. Design quality;
      e. Number of design changes, etc.
3. launching prospective profit making and manufacturing profit making products, managing on;
      a. cost reduction;
      b. efficiency of R&D
As result of the globalization the market became ‘society wide’, further on developing by;
4. constantly launching many new distinctive products, managing on;
      a. the degree of innovation.
5. constantly launching many innovative products, making it possible to create new markets, managing on;
      a. brand power;
      b. speed;
      c. minimum costs;
     d. innovations which create new markets.

Growth has become the new battlefield.

All above mentioned KPI’s are used in Japan. Productivity improvement developed by industrialization, information technology and creativity.
The human resource allocation during this period moved from manufacturing towards creativity (research, product and production development)
To win the battle of growth the manufacturing industry should focus on;

  • Nr. 1 in cost competitiveness
    We must be extremely cost competitive when we have competitors in the market (the winner takes it all)
    Establish strong production engineering for developing new and improved methods and processes.
  •  Speed (flexibility)
    The market demand varies highly because of various factors in the global economic climate, such as war, increase of off-shore production, demand fluctuation, private consumption, etc.
    Suppliers who have the speed (flexibility) to follow this demand are the winners.
  • Brand strategy
    Brand product manager responsible for a product from its product concept to its sales results
  • Innovation
    Establish strong R&D organizations to develop new innovative products.
  • Create competent human resources
    To continuously improve and launch new methods, processes and attractive products.

Ten keywords to understand manufacturing in Japan

1. Focusing on production engineering
Process engineering is as important as product engineering,. Production engineering should have knowhow of toolings, processes and layout.
• In Europe the ratio of production engineers to production employees is appr. 1 : 60.
• In Japan the ratio of production engineers to production employees is appr. 1 : 17.
2. Continuous improvement (Kaizen)
• The European approach is often a ‘fire fighting’ approach, due to lack of foundation and lack of standardization and maintenance, sustaining the achieved result is difficult and the problem will come back.
• The Japanese approach is continuous improvements with PDCA cycles on; bad design, production waste and losses, maintenance, market change, new technology. Only changes create improvements.
3. Zero optimum concept
• In Europe we are trying to divine an optimum level, this becomes a big issue on its self.
• In Japan there is no room for discussion, zero is zero, by aiming for zero the optimum value can be reached.
4. Knowledge management
• In Europe we try to invent the wheel every time again.
• In Japan they try to learn out of the paste by extensive knowledge management and then try to make it better
5. Visual management
• In Europe visual means there’s maybe one central publication board
• In Japan visual means much more; abnormal operation can be detected immediately, requirements for “management” and “control”
  are visualized and continuous improvement is visualized with help of the 5G’s.
6. Detail oriented
• In Europe we fix the problem quickly, but the root cause remains.
• In Japan a detailed analyze of the problem tries to discover the root cause to prevent future problems.
7. Focus on quality
• In Europe Quality is seen as an important strategic issue focussing on customer satisfaction
• In Japan Quality is also a strategic issue, but there business operations is based on TQM.
8. Standardization
• In Europe we like to be innovative, it seems to be a challenge to develop everything new
• In Japan products series and parts are standardized (80% of a new car consists of existing parts) and management and control
   are standardized (classifications, regulations, purchasing, procedures, measures for recovering abnormalities, operations, etc.)
9. Reduction of lead times
• In Europe manufacturing leadtimes are often long due to (semi) batch production, development leadtime of a new car is appr. 3 – 4 years.
• In Japan manufacturing leadtimes are often < 1 day due to flow production, development leadtime 12 – 18 months.
10. Equipment independance
• In Europe we buy universal machines which are compromizes among various users and therefore, various uses.
• In Japan they insist on designing and fabricating production equipment inhouse (if possible based on available equipment on the market)

Strength comparisons between the West and Japan

     The West                                                            Japan
1. Strategy (what to do)                                 Tactics (how to do)
2. Conceptual & imaginative                          Practical (always visualizing)
3. Software                                                   Hardware
4. Innovation (discontinuous)                         Incremental innovation (continuous improvement)
5. New functions                                           Quality
6. Individualistic solutions                              Standardized solutions
7. Cosmetic design                                        Manufacturing
8. Top down                                                 Middle up and down (democratic, suggestion system)
9. Theoretical                                                Trial and error
10. Specialization (members:specialists)         Integration (members: generalists)

What is WCM in Japan?

Japanese World Class Manufacturing involving JIT, TQC, TPM and TIE under the umbrella of TQM is a practical way of providing sustainable benefits. The drawback of these activities is the direct relationship with cost reduction. In addition to these activities Cost Deployement has to be developed.

  • demand fluctuation; zero stock, short leadtimes with quick setup, JIT (just in time)
    a total production system which emphasizes producing exactly what is needed and conveying it to where it is needed precisely when required. The goal is to find a practical way to create the automated plant which realizes this concept as close as possible.
  • quality problems; zero defects, build in quality at the process, TQC (total quality control)
  • machine breakdowns, zero breakdowns, high availability, TPM (total productive maintenance)
  • productivity, minimal cost, motivation for higher productivity with very low absenteeism rate, TIE (total industrial engineering)
  • cost deployment, establishes a cost reduction program for meaningful cost reduction.

A World Class Manufacturing company in Japan uses TQM as the brain, JIT as the nerve system, TPM as the muscles and
TIE as the blood.

1. The definition of TQC and TQM and tools and methods

2. The definition of JIT production and tools and methods

3. The definiton of TPM and tools and methods

4. The definition of TIE and tools and methods

5. The definition of cost Deployment and tools and methods

Towards WCM

Generally, the succesful implementation of WCM requires as a base;

  1. A safety, hygiene and working environment protection program
  2. Improvement of customer satisfaction
  3. Cost deployment to reduce cost systematically
  4. Focused improvement for the elimination of the big losses defined with cost deployment
  5. Elimination of defectives by a quality control program
  6. An autonomous activity program
  7. A scheduled maintenance program for a professional maintenance department
  8. An early product/equipment management program
  9. People development
  10. Creating good environments

The implementation and realization of WCM takes a lot of years (at least 12 – 15 years).
A clear step by step strategy is very important, the next seven steps are a guideline for implementing;

  1. Safety (5S, SOP)
  2. Reliability (TPM)
  3. Yields (Focused Improvements, TQC)
  4. Quality (build in quality control, TQC)
  5. Rationalization in logistics and manning (TIE)
  6. Synchronization between sales and production (JIT)
  7. Fully autonomated plant, world class in Q, C, D, H. (TQM)

Posted in Lectures | 2 Comments »

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 »


Posted by smeding on 9 November, 2006

First photo’s on my website.


Posted in WCM-course (UK) | Leave a Comment »

Attractive Quality Creation

Posted by smeding on 6 November, 2006

Dr. Kano
Business Management and Change of Quality as Competitive Advantage

Osaka 06-11-2006
See “Profile of Dr. Kano” for his background and activities.
Below a short summary of the lecture, covering the following subjects;

  • Business Environment, strategy and the role of TQM;
  • Three levels of Quality as competitive advantage;
  • Attractive Quality versus Must-be Quality;
  • Life cycle of Quality;

There in basic three different strategies in relation to quality;

  • Maintain and improve the quality of existing products, services, etc. ===> Improvement;
  • Downsize the existing products, service, etc. ===> Breakthrough;
  • Upsizing ===> Creation.

In this lecture the focus was on creation.

What is Quality?
The Japanese sign for quality consists of two equal sign on top with a kind of ladder below it.The two equal signs representing two axes; in ancient history a unit of weight.
The ladder is representing a shell; in ancient history a payment item.
So quality means to balance with something, or your activities concerning quality should be in balance with the costs.

Development of quality
~1950’s; Quality control, conformance to customer’s basic requirements
~1970’s; Quality Management, customer satisfaction with customer’s expressed requirements
Today; Attractive Quality Creation, customer delight with unexpected new quality achieved by meeting customer’s latent requirements.
(AQC includes Quality Control and Quality Management)
Satisfying customer’s requirement isn’t enough anymore, because;

  • Mature products are very similar to each other;
  • It’s difficult to distinguish products from each other;
  • Manufacturers conducts market surveys of the same market segments;
  • Every manufacturer has advanced input of customer requirements to design product specs.

Try this exercise;
Remember one item which you most carefully selected among the items which you purchased for your personal use the last year. (no company related products)
How did you select the item?

A) I had no difficulty selecting the item because there existed no competitive items;
Among several competitive items, I could immediately decide the one;
Among several competitive items, I had difficulty selecting the one because every item looked to fit my requirements;

The theory of attractive quality explains how the relationship between the degree of sufficiency and customer satisfaction with a quality attribute can be classified into four categories of perceived quality:

1) indifferent quality.
2) Attractive quality;
3) onedimensional quality;
4) must-be quality;

Quality is in a Life Cycle, it start with indifferent, to attractive, to one dimensional, to must-be.
Attractive Quality Creation can bring a must-be product back to an attractive product.
AQC is discovering the latent customer needs.

The Konica case is a good example of AQC;
In the beginning 1970’s Konica had a strong downtrend in the sales of their camera’s.
Despite an extensive market survey for the customer requirement concerning camera’s, they could not get the hands on the problem.
When they decided to do a survey on photo making, and evaluated thousands of photo’s which were developed in one of the own film plants,
they discovered that a lot of photo’s were under exposed or had a bad focus.
Asking the customers how this happened, they explained that they often forgot to take the separate flashlight with them or forgot to manually focus.
So by looking to the process of photo making, they discovered oppertuneties, the latent customer requirement of having a simple camera, Konica developed an inbuilt flash and an autofocus.
This brought them back to the top of camera producers.

Posted in Lectures | Leave a Comment »

Profile Toyota

Posted by smeding on 30 October, 2006


Posted in Visits | 1 Comment »

Profile of Dr. Yamashina

Posted by smeding on 30 October, 2006

Graduated from MSC, Engineering Faculty, Kyoto University and Dr. course of IEOR, University of California
Prof. of Kyoto University, Faculty of Engineering, Dept. of Precision Engineering since
TPM award committee member since 1989
Advisor for KAIZEN Mission since 1994
President, Society of Plant Engineers Japan since 2000-2002
Director, Society of Plant Engineers Japan since 2002
Prof. Emeritus of Kyoto University since April 2006 

Posted in Lectures | Leave a Comment »

Profile Komatsu

Posted by smeding on 29 October, 2006


Posted in Visits | Leave a Comment »

Visit Honda

Posted by smeding on 29 October, 2006

Within the European Honda network, Honda Europe NV takes care of;

  • Logistics of cars, motorbicycles, power equipment products and accessories;
  • Parts service for all products;
  • Sales and service of industrial engines;
  • developing and maintaining ICT.

The European network consists of 6 honda Logistics Centres (HLC) coordinated from Gent.
The filosophy of Honda is based on ‘glocalization’, meaning based on a global approach maximizing the local cultural integration.

See company brochure for an overview of the activities and filosophy. Honda Europe NV Brochure
Important driver for contineous improvement are the so called ‘Honda Circles’.
A Honda circle can be initiated by the employees themselves and are not limited to strict manufacturing issues.
In this way a culture of respect and Kaizen thinking is created, with amazing results.
The best Honda Circles are meeting/competing eachother on global Honda events.

Posted in Visits | Leave a Comment »