David Turner is the Engineering Manager for Ledwood. He explains why he is looking forward to sharing knowledge and improving processes with the Toyota Production System.

Toyota Motor Corporation’s vehicle production system is arguable one of the world’s great manufacturing success stories. Known as the Toyota Production System (TPS), it is often referred to as a ‘lean manufacturing system’ and is studied by manufacturing businesses in many different sectors.

TPS was largely created by Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda, his son Kiichiro Toyoda and Toyota chief engineer Taiichi Ohno. The primary goal of TPS is to eliminate waste, called “muda.” Here at Ledwood, we have begun working with the Toyota Lean Management Centre in Deeside to develop our people and processes with lean management training based on the TPS model.

The first step has been for colleagues from our fabrication, engineering and purchasing teams to visit Rototherm in Port Talbot. With a heritage dating back to the 1840’s, Rototherm is a leading global manufacturer of measurement solutions for temperature, pressure, liquid concentration, non-invasive level, dissolved carbon dioxide and flow.  They have been pursuing the lean manufacturing philosophy for some time so it was useful to hear how TPS has benefited their business model.  

Continuous improvement and respect for people are at the heart of the Toyota ‘way’ which fits well with our culture and values. The end-goal is to improve overall performance and quality by eliminating waste. These include :

  1. Overproduction – manufacturing an item before it is actually required therefore prohibiting the smooth flow of materials
  2. Waiting — whenever goods are not moving or being processed, the waste of waiting occurs.
  3. Transporting —transporting products between processes is a cost incursion which adds no value to the product.
  4. Inappropriate Processing —investing in smaller, more flexible equipment is often more efficient.
  5. Unnecessary Inventory — excess inventory increases lead times, consumes productive floor space, delays the identification of problems and inhibits communication.
  6. Unnecessary/Excess Motion — this waste is related to ergonomics and is seen in all instances of bending, stretching, walking, lifting and reaching.
  7. Defects —rework has a direct impact to the bottom line.

Working with The Toyota Lean Management Centre, we will be identifying and attacking the seven wastes with six key objectives:

  1. Optimise each individual step of the manufacturing system.
  2. Limit flaws and defects. This ensures that each part of the production line will go as planned.
  3. Reduce the manufacturing cost without compromising quality.
  4. Focus on products and services that are in demand. Make a product that is demanded by consumers. If there is no demand then there is only money lost.
  5. Encourage and embed flexibility to ensure a responsive and agile service.
  6. Communicate with our customers and suppliers to implement just-in-time manufacturing.

Clearly, Toyota is doing something right. And, in the words of our colleagues at the Toyota Lean Manufacturing Centre,  as any business leader knows, success does not happen by accident. It is the result of commitment, passion and the pursuit of excellence.

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