the toyota ballet

Over at Evolving Excellence today Kevin Meyer describes his experiences of a visit to Toyota Kyushu. Kevin is struck dumb by every aspect of the plant’s operation — for example this:

“Every movement is choreographed and improved. You have to stand and watch each person for several cycles to see just how choreographed. Each movement has a purpose and is designed to minimize movement for the current and next operation. As he is exiting the front seat after installing four bolts a slight twist of the left hand will open the rear door so as he swings out of the front seat he swings right into the rear. As he exits the rear he leaves a tool that is required by the next operator. This is very hard to describe, but it is truly a manufacturing ballet.”

Whenever anyone spots a problem they pull a cord to sound a bell:

“How often does the chime sound? About once a minute throughout the factory. There is no problem reporting a problem. The intent is to find it and get it fixed, fast. As in within a minute. How long does it take you to identify, report, and fix a problem? I know what you’re thinking, I’m embarassed too.”

To get the full sense of Kevin’s amazement, I recommend you read the whole article for yourself. The brilliant and breathless description makes me want to go to gemba and see for myself.

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