Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Shigeo Shingo - The Japanese Industrial Engineer - Contribution to Industrial Engineering



Regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of manufacturing of Japan for his contributions to improving manufacturing processes, Shigeo Shingo has been described as an “engineering genius.”  He has authored several books including, A Study of the Toyota Production System; A Revolution in Manufacturing: The SMED System; Zero Quality Control: Source Inspection and the Poka-yoke System; The Sayings of Shigeo Shingo: Key Strategies for Plant Improvement; and Non-Stock Production: The Shingo System for Continuous Improvement.
I studied his book The Sayings of Shigeo Shingo: Key Strategies for Plant Improvement first. This book is full of short stories that explain the strategies for plant improvement.


Shigeo Shingo was born in 1909 at Saga City, Japan. His date of birth was given as 8 January in a website.  He attended the Saga Technical High School and graduated from Yamanashi Technical College. In 1930 he went to work for the Taipei Railway Company.

In 1943 shingo was transferred to the Amano Manufacturing Plant in Yokohama. As Manufacturing Section Chief, he raised productivity 100% [strategosinc].

Shigeo Shingo's Association with JMA

Shigeo Shingo joined the Japan Management Association (JMA) as a management consultant in 1945.

One of his first projects was at Hitachi Ltd.’s vehicle manufacturing plant in Kasado, Japan.  Here he clarified  that the objective of industrial engineering was to improve the process, not the individual operations in isolation, and that any improvement to the operations must be measured by its contribution to the improvement of the process.

In 1950, while working at Toyo Kogyo, Shingo came out with idea that setup operation is composed of “internal setup” (IED) and “external setup” (OED).  Seven years later at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding’s Hiroshima shipyards he further developed exchange of dies process with the concept of shifting IED to OED.

In 1954, Morita Masanobu of Toyota Motor Co. attended one of Shingo’s courses.  When he returned to Toyota, he applied some of the concepts he had learned and achieved great results.  One year later, Shingo was invited to Toyota and began industrial engineering and factory improvement training at Toyota for both its employees and parts suppliers.  At that point, at just short of 10 years with JMA, he had worked with over 300 companies to improve manufacturing process and had taught his innovative concepts to hundreds of manufacturing professionals in Japan.
Shingo began his association with Taichi Ohno of Toyota in 1956, a relationship that would last for over twenty years.  Shingo was regarded as a teacher who could solve problems and develop new techniques while Ohno was the passionate visionary.  Shingo created and wrote about many aspects of the revolutionary manufacturing practices which became components of  the renowned Toyota Production System.  When asked whether it was he or Ohno that created the Toyota Production System, Shingo took full credit, saying, "I did, for I was Ohno's teacher."  (JMA)   Ohno successfully applied many of Shingo’s concepts such as SMED and Poka-yoke which led to great success for Toyota. But Shingo wrote in his book that he was challenged by Taichi Ohno to come out with SMED and Shingo could come out with SMED. Shingo used his expertise with die changing process under the challenge put forward by Ohno to come out with the SMED process.

Shingeo Shingo left the Japan Management Association in 1959 to found the Institute of Management Improvement. 

Recognition and Awards

Utah State University recognized Dr. Shingo for his lifetime accomplishments with an Honorary Doctorate in Business in 1988 and began awarding the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing to companies that demonstrate excellence in manufacturing practices which translate into excellent customer satisfaction and business results.


JMA, Shingo with Japan Management Association,

Contribution of Shigeo Shingo to Industrial Engineering

More articles by Narayana Rao on Shigeo Shingo

Shigeo Shingo - The Japanese Industrial Engineer - Books By Shingo
Shigeo Shingo - Famous Industrial Engineer of Japan - Videos

Toyota Production System - IE Point of View - Shigeo Shingo

Industrial Engineering - Foundation of Toyota Production System Chapter 1 to 3 of the book - Presentation
Toyota Production System Industrial Engineering - Shigeo Shingo Chapters 4 to 10
Introducing and Implementing the Toyota Production System - Shiego Shingo Chapter 11 of the book

Poka Yoke

Poka-Yoke - Shigeo Shingo

The SMED System: Shigeo Shingo's Explanation
Eight Steps or Principles for SMED - Shigeo Shingo
SMED Case Studies and Examples - Shigeo Shingo
SMED - Single Minute Exchange of Dies - An Industrial Engineering Innovation

Shingo's Contribution to Toyota Production System
Shingo with Japan Management Association
Shingo - Some Resources
Original Knol - Number 1907

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