Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Framing The Toyota Production System

Framing is a well studied concept in social science. It can be described as implicitly selecting some aspects of perceived reality as more salient thatn others, thus orienting problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation and eventually action recommendation.
The lean movement has been responsible for changing some frames in the industrial world. For instance, large inventories which werre once viewed as healthy assets that could be tapped when needed, are now generally seen as sources or symptoms of waste. Large batches produced to fulfil "economics order quantities" are increasingly unacceptable as a result of a new framework for seeing inventory. Toyota's expertise in creating level of flow of goods through a "pull" manufacturing system has changed the frame by demonstrating that the real issue was reduction of inventory, rather than the management of it.

In Toyota Production System , we have 4 frames that support our quality mindset to be delivered highest quality to customer.

4 Frames :

  1. Improving Performance
  2. Problem Awareness
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Developing People Before Making Parts

1. Improving Performance

Improving performance is the first goal of TPS, not implementing tools fot the tools sake.

  • Quality improvement, through building in quality 100% at the process rather than inspecting it in later.
  • Improving customer service by reducing response time, how can I please my customers by delivering to them exactly what they want, exactly when they want it, in the right quantity at the highest quality and lowest cost ?
  • Cost reduction through waste elimination, anything other than the minimum amount of equipment, materials, parts and working time absolutely essential to production are merely surpluses that only raise cost.

2. Problem Awareness , Developing a kaizen conciousness

The 2nd deep frame of TPS is problem awareness, in which lean thinkers continually know precisely where the system falls short of perfection and relentessly pursue these "problems" everyday. In the word of Nampachi Hayashi : "The biggest problem is thinking you are okay".

A generally and understandable, human tedency is blame circumstances when run into difficulties. The TPS frame looks to take responsibility, challenge assumptions and conduct the framed "5 WHY" exercise of asking" WHY? until the root cause of a problem is uncovered.

3. Problem Solving , Go and See Quick Experiments and Rigorous Result Checking

3rd, TPS also conveys a deep frame for experiential problem solving. As Ohno said: "In a production plant operation, data are highly regarded but I consider facts to be even more important." The difference is more than sematic: TPS consider facts to be events that you have your self witnessed at the real place, with the real parts and the real people.

4. Developing People Before Making Parts

Recalling his days aas an Ohno dicipline. Teruyuki Minoura muses, " I don't think he was interested in my answer at all. I think he was just putting me through some kind of training to get me to learn how to think." Hajima Ohba depict TPS as fundamentally a system of training where everyone solves problems uner the guidance of a mentor. Kenji Miura, head of Toyota's Operations Management Consulting Division, on recent visit to a european plant chided the plant management , " Don't have kaizen-men and observers." This was strong way of saying that developing a "kaizen consciousness" was the responsibility of the management, not of staff "expert".

In fact, TPS frames every manager's job very strongly as :

  • Build the performance mindset
  • Establish the standard method
  • Track actual performance (make problems or abnormalities visible)
  • Teach a basic way for analyzing work
  • Develop employees through solving probems or improvement tasks.

Indo Lean Institute