Virtual JKE Day Three

Kent Bradley
VP, North America
Day three on the Gemba road was long, hot, and fascinating. We were on our way to catch the bullet train for Denso before 7:00. On the way, we took the usual opportunity to go over what we would be seeing and Brad provided some great insights into leadership styles of several key emperors from Japanese history, tying those various styles to the modern day need to have varied methods of getting the lean message through to our people successfully.
I followed up with a discussion of the 7 wastes — introducing the group to the twisted but effective memory tool “Open The Meat Wagon, Pal, I’m Dead” recalling the wastes of Overproduction, Transportation, Motion, Processing, Inventory, and Defects. I challenged the group to really look to find examples of each at the plants we would be visiting today–not an easy task at Denso and Toyota!
The lean development at Denso’s sensor division is remarkable, to say the least. Denso has been at this for a long time, and it shows. Here are just a few of the comments from group members at the debrief following the tour, as we loaded up and headed to our next stop, Toyota:
Christine, from Entek cited Denso’s commitment to setting aside large blocks of training time and dedicated training rooms specifically for improvement.
Marty, from Entek was impressed by Denso’s freeing time on the lines each week dedicated to improvement activities.
Ken, from Itec (and several others as well) were amazed that Denso even developed a standard time and pace for walking, both if carrying something and if empty.
Fillipo, of Cassapa, was impressed by the cleanliness and the flexibility and mobility of the layout and fixturing.
Larry, from Entek, was impressed –as were we all– by the depth of Denso’s commitment to training and mentoring each new employee during a 30 day period.
Toyota was a whirlwind–first the Kamigo engine plant, then the Motomachi assembly plant, and finally a stop at the media center showroom. One of the strongest and most common themes pointed out by group members both during and after our visits to both Toyota plants was amazement at the seemingly effortless and uninterrupted flow of materials to the lines, and the rapidly completing cars through those lines. Impressive for a single model of car–astounding given the 27 different vehicle variants built there in a mixed model process!
A few of the group member’s comments regarding what we observed and learned at Toyota:
Richie, of Entek UK was impressed by the almost casual demonstration of high levels of actual assembly skills throughout the plant. However–Richie was extremely disappointed to discover that touring the plant did not qualify him for 50% off of the Lexus convertible in the media center showroom. We were all disappointed by this sad reality.
Fenwick, Richie’s compatriot, had finished reading “The Toyota Way” prior to the trip, and confessed to having been a bit down while reading it because some of what was describe seemed to him nearly unobtainable. Seeing it in action, in real life, and with such remarkable effectiveness was reaffirming and energizing.
Jorge from Pentaire Pools cited the real sense of urgency demonstrated by a team during a part quality issue. Clearly, getting the flow back on track was and is taken seriously at every level.
Dale of Western Idaho Cabinets pointed out the powerful benefits associated with posting implemented improvement ideas publicly, and including what the employee earned as a result of that initiative.
We’ll revisit our learning on these key sites over the next several entries as we tie what we are seeing together and begin to really set out action plans to take home and implement.
– Kent Bradley