Japan Kaikaku Experience Field Report, January 2007

By Brad Schmidt
Here are some highlights from the Japan Kaikaku Experience we just completed.
Toyota was quite amazing. They are now doing full kitting on sections of their assembly line. The kit carts go down the line with the car and then come back up empty to be filled with parts. This way the kitting is linked to the assembly and there are only bins of bolts and nuts on the line. This is new as of Jan 2007.
We toured Toto’s “toilet tank line”. The factory was decorated in a traditional Japanese style. They even had straw around chemical tanks to make it feel more homey. They have another plant in Shanghai making the same tanks and their cost in Japan is lower!! We had the plant manager take questions for about 1.5 hours which was very rewarding. The best thing about Toto was that they had this “free and fun” spirit that others didn’t. The plant manager was saying it’s a tough line to walk when they want to reduce costs (reduce headcount) and still keep their fun atmosphere which they know is unique.
After each visit we a) talked about what we saw that we liked, b) what is the thinking behind what we saw and c) how would that thinking manifest itself at our own company. I was very pleased with the results of our conversations and a number of the participants started getting their kaikaku (mental breakthroughs) right at Day 1.
Here is our schedule of our latest public trips. I hope to see all of you on a Kaikaku trip soon!

6 Comments

  1. Erick Mortera

    January 28, 2007 - 5:30 pm

    Full kitting is called Set Parts Supply System or SPS. It has been implemented in Tsutsumi plant since 2003. It is now widely practiced in other Toyota affiliates, such as Toyota Taiwan (Kuozui), Thailand (Gateway), India (TKM) and the Philippines (TMP). The main benefits are reduction of parts stock space and cycle time at line side. It results to steep learning curve and tremendous improvement in quality.

  2. Jon Miller

    January 28, 2007 - 6:07 pm

    What Brad is describing is different than SPS at Tsutsumi. In the full kitting prior to this year, the kits were still kept on the line. What we saw at Motomachi on our last visit, all the kits were kept off the line and the kit travels with the car on a cart following a magnetic strip. I don’t know what this new synchronized method is called.

  3. Erick Mortera

    January 29, 2007 - 12:23 pm

    Yes, SPS has three variations: SPS for man (single process), for vehicle (station process) and for the whole line (e.g the whole trimline assy) . What you saw is SPS for the whole line. It is the same with Toyota India and Philippines.

  4. Jon Miller

    January 29, 2007 - 4:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing that insight Erick. I’ve learned something new.

  5. santosh

    March 8, 2010 - 9:31 am

    what is milkrun method?