TPS Benchmarking

American Workers Embrace Kaizen Culture at NUMMI

By Jon Miller Published on January 10th, 2006

Here is a link to an excellent article from September 2005 in the Manufacturing Engineering magazine about the GM-Toyota 50/50 joint venture NUMMI. In this excerpt form the article one of the team members who later became a team leader talks about how TPS and the kaizen culture was taught by Toyota manaters at NUMMI:
“First coming in with a new truck, there were a lot of TMC regular team leaders, group leaders, from Japan,” Sanchez notes, “and they’d work with us closely, ensuring that we understood the basics: how to hold a body, hold our tools and equipment. We didn’t call it ergonomics 15 years ago, but really that’s what it is. It’s just how to hold body and tools in the correct position.
“At the time, nobody explained to us that this is TPS,” recalls Sanchez, whose recently-retired father, Salvador Sanchez, was an original NUMMI team member who previously worked for GM at the plant. “They would say, ‘Look at this job, if you were going to stay on here the rest of your life, how would you like to set this job up in the most efficient way?’
“For them, it was everyday work, it wasn’t anything special,” he adds of the visiting TMC personnel who taught TPS. “When I became a team leader, I started understanding that behind everything we did there was a philosophy or some level of thinking that, as a team member, you didn’t really understand.”

This is a great example of a successful Lean transformation by a uniniozed American automotive company in the United States.

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