Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing Metrics

In one of our Lean Manufacturing Benchmarking Tours to Japan (Japan Kaikaku Experience) the people on the tour had a goal to come up with company-wide metrics. The same metrics would be used for different business units so that the conglomerate could judge them better.
The question was put to Toyota’s management, “What metrics do you use in running your lines?” There was a bit of a pause and the manager said, “It may seem strange to you, but metrics are very specific to the lines, even under the same factory roof. For example, similar lines will measure different things.” This response took the group totally by surprise.
He then continued, “The individual leads will decide what measurements will work best for their area. Generally, the metrics are similar, but the weightings are different.”
In fact, we saw repeatedly at the leanest companies in Japan, the metrics posted or being evaluated were very simple. One company even told us that OEE was too complicated to be a useful metric.


  1. Federico Lopez

    August 4, 2009 - 10:19 am

    How do you tracking standard work across the processes I mean which metric do you use for standard work. Best Regards Federico Lopez

  2. Brad Schmidt

    August 9, 2009 - 11:35 pm

    Hi Fredrico. I think the best metric for Standard work is a) Whether you have it or not and b) How much it’s improved. The job description for a worker in Toyota is “Work to the standard, improve the standard”. Rather than focus on metrics for Standard work the most important thing is to actually make sure standard work is being followed and then that it is being improved. I think a good metric would be “Is Std work being improved upon every 3 months?” Improvement would normally be based on taking less time to do the job or making the job more safe, easier to quarantee quality or less standard work in process. Does that help answer your question?