Normally SMED in lean talk stands for single minute exchange of dies. Shigeo Shingo, industrial engineering consultant to Toyota wrote a book about this methodology and it has made possible small lot production and the reduction of lost capacity worldwide. SMED is a wonderful thing. But what if you’ve fallen on hard times, the loan sharks are hot on your heels and you just need to disappear and find a new life? Can SMED help you? The principles applied to SNED – single night exchange of domiciles can help you get away from your immediate problems and give you a chance to address them at leisure. Yes, SNED can help if you live in Japan and have the basic fee of a million yen to hire the yonigeya (escape at night) service.
SRA is a Japanese detective office / professional negotiations company who promises to take you safely away from stalkers, jilted and vengeful lovers, or the creditors of your failed company. They boast a 100% success rate. They promise not only move your furniture and belongings silently in the night, but to establish you in a new residence, schools, employment and even deal with elements of organized crime that may come looking for you. There is a clear disclaimer, “we do not accept requests for escape as a solution to problems” and that escape at night is a temporary retreat with the purpose of giving you breath room to address the causes of problems.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with lean? Quite a lot actually. For a yonige to succeed, quite a lot of planning and preparation is needed. Just as when a die change is performed on a machine in the single minute system, the single night exchange of domiciles or night escape service must have the following elements:
- External set up. In practical terms this means prepare absolutely everything needed for the escape in advance. Once the domicile exchange process has started nothing must stop it from being smoothly completed.
- Team approach. A small group of people can haul the furniture out of an apartment in the dead of night quickly and silently, with look outs posted, distractions at the ready and a drivers in cars with engines on, ready to make the escape.
- Get rid of waste. The moves should be planned and coordinated in advance to avoid any searching, planning or adjust the plan once the move has begun. The path of escape must be the shortest and easiest.
- Speed tools. Bring equipment to facilitate swift and silent lifting, moving and driving away in the night. The yonige is no time to cut corners and risk detection.
It would be fascinating to observe these “night escape” service providers in action. We could probably use their techniques for moving things efficiently in and out of buildings during daylight hours, free from worry about gangsters. This example of service innovation demonstrates once again that necessity is the mother of invention.