Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Implementation of Industrial Engineering in Toyota Motors

Toyota motors made reducing cost and eliminating waste a strategic focus area from the moment, Japan was defeated in the second world war and American occupation of Japan was announced.

On August 15, 1945 Kiichiro Toyoda, then president of Toyota Motor Company, said: “Catch up with America in three years. Otherwise, the automobile industry of Japan will not survive” (Ohno, 1988).  This statement of Kiichiro Toyoda is with respect cost of producing an individual car in Japan. He wanted Japanese car to cost less than American car and then only Japanese people will buy Toyota cars. The immediate problem for Toyota is not quality of the car, which Kiichiro Toyoda believed was of acceptable quality but its cost which is high compared to American cars.  In Ohno's book Taiichi went on to say: “To accomplish this mission, we had to know America and learn American ways” (Ohno, 1988).

Ohno believed that the quickest way to catch up with America was to import American production management techniques and business management practices. Toyota studied industrial engineering (IE)  as according to  Ohno it is profit making engineering. Based on his understanding of industrial engineering, Ohno implemented first in his department and then across the company,  a company-wide system tied directly to management to systematically lower cost and raise productivity. (Ohno, 1988).

According to Shigeo Shingo, management should possess a set of fundamentals closely related to industrial engineering.  If management cannot understand how to attack the rationalization of the current system, through scientific study, then it cannot be expected to improve or change. (Shingo, 2005).

The focus of industrial engineering is cost reduction through engineering and management  practices changes. If industrial engineers had to focus on one aspect of their field it would be productivity or productivity improvement. That is, the total elimination of waste by increasing efficiency through cost reduction (Going, 1911).

Shingo is well versed in the writings of Gilbreth and Taylor. He is a strong believer in the utility of process and operation analysis. Shingo is also an expert engineer. Therefore he could develop Single Minute of Exchanging Dies (SMED) and Foolproofing or Mistakeproofing (Pokayoke) in many engineering activities and generalize them into important methods. But Japanese Management Assocation followed Allan Mogensen's idea of involving front line employees in industrial engineering projects through work simplification projects or activity. Shingo was conducting training programs to educate engineers and supervisors in process improvement. In that capacity he conducted more 85 training programs in Toyota Motors. But, Shingo was himself doing many improvement projects and developing theory, principles and methods. He wrote number of books also.

Industrial engineering in Toyota Motors became more popular as kaizen. Actually, it was an American initiative that made the work Kaizen popular in Japan in the context of promoting industrial way of improving production processes. Thus the kaizen specialist appeared in Japana. Bicheno suggests that a kaizen specialist should be capable of performing value engineering in product design and development (Bicheno, 2000). Gradually, the demand on the kaizen specialist to acquire more skills was made and he was asked to become capable of performing environmental scanning using complex such as the x-matrix, Porter's matrix and other sophisticated diagnostic tools to do benchmarking and maintain competitive advantage in the area of efficiency of the organization (Jackson, 2006). That pursuit resulted in his advocating and implementing cellular manufacturing, production flow analysis and supply chain infrastructure design (Askin & Goldberg, 2002; Srinivasan, 2004). In these contexts, the kaizen specialist is illustrated as person that exists within an organization to advance efficiency concepts in highly specialized areas.  The kaizen specialist is expected to work with employees utilizing team-based worker participation activities often referred to as kaizen events.  They must have the ability to lead groups. Martin and Osterling state that these specialists should be armed with PowerPoint kick-off material, masking tape, whiteboards, post-it notes and kaizen team t-shirts etc. to form the group and get it going in the right direction with enthusiasm (Martin & Osterling, 2007). A successful kaizen event is one where the specialist can get employees to get involved and feel they have ownership (Tapping, 2007). While workers are more involved, the kaizen specialist is still responsible for the results and outcome. Kaizen events are popular because they have been used to accelerate productivity improvements in a short amount of time (Mika, 2006).

Eiji Toyoda, former chairman, once said “At Toyota, Kaizen is in the air.” He meant that you will breathe kaizen in Toyota’s plants, because you can see everybody is working to improve. Toyota’s DNA is Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word which means continual improvement. But at Toyota, Kaizen means everyday improvement in ‘gemba’ or the shop floor (Masaki Imai).

Askin, R., & Goldberg, J. (2002). Design and analysis of lean production systems. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Bicheno, J. (2000). The Lean Toolbox. Buckingham, England: PICSIE Books.

Going, C. (1911). Principles of industrial engineering. London: Hill Publishing Co., Ltd, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.

Imai, Masaki, http://www.autofocusasia.com/management/kaizen_toyota_success.htm

Jackson, T. (2006). Hoshin Kanri for the lean enterprise. New York: Productivity Press.

Martin, K., & Osterling, M. (2007). The kaizen event planner: Achieving rapid improvement in office, service and technical environments. New York: Productivity Press.

Mika, G. (2006). Kaizen: Event implementation manual (5th Ed.). Dearborn, MI: Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Ohno, T. (1988). Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production. New York: Productivity Press.

Shingo, S. (2005). A study of the Toyota Production System: From an Industrial Engineering Viewpoint. New York: CRC Press, Taylor Francis Group.

Srinivasan, M. (2004). Streamlined: 14 Principles for Building and Managing the Lean Supply Chain. USA: Thomson.

Tapping, D. (2007). The Lean Pocket Book Handbook for Kaizen Events. USA: MCS Media, Inc.

The article is an adapted excerpt from: Marksberry, P., & Parsley, D. (2011). Managing the IE (Industrial Engineering) Mindset: A quantitative investigation of Toyota’s practical thinking shared among employees. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, 4(4), 771-799.

For Production Engineering Manager 0919 job Toyota requires industrial engineering knowledge and experience.

Qualifications and Experience:

Minimum Qualification NQF6 (360 Credits) in an engineering related field
Project management advantageous
Experience in industrial engineering in Assembly environment essential
Good technical knowledge of Assembly production systems
Knowledge of PLC programming advantageous
Knowledge of ISO 9000 & 14001 requirements essential
High level of computer literacy is needed for this position (excel, word, auto cad, sap)

1 comment:

  1. JMA, Japan's IE/Sc. Mgmt consultancy organization provided consultancy to Toyota Motors in 1944.