Hello again,

We started our Tuesday with a breakfast meeting, sharing the lessons learned yesterday. As we departed the hotel early, Darril explained the day’s full schedule. The group was in high spirits with good weather and what promised to be another great learning day.

Arriving at Toyota Tsutsumi plant, we met Miss. Hana Takeda, who guided us for the plant tour. The facility produces 5 models, mainly Prius, Camry and Allion (40% is for exportation). It has 6000 employees, with 1000 temporary workers and the plant produces 420.000 units per year. The size of the factory is1.140.000 m2, and it is the mother plant of the Georgetown, Kentucky plant. The main processes are Stamping, Welding, Painting, Assembling and Final Inspection, which were explained careful by Hana-san.

The first impression was a very fast rhythm of work. Actually, this plant has 2 production lines, where at the first line it produces 4 different models with a Takt Time of 70 seconds per vehicle, and another line works with Takt Time of 64 seconds per vehicle. What stands out is your ability to see the harmony and synchronized pace of activities that each person and machines are executing through the process, even in the same line it is passing different color of cars, right and left handle handed drive cars.

Hana-san showed and explained about the Andon system which workers push the “call button” and then at a big panel on the roof shows which production line process has problem (highlighted with a yellow light), also, it plays a music. Each team has different music. The speed of reaction time of team leaders coming to fix the problems was very impressive. In a few seconds, the Andon light goes green (which means OK situation) and the line starts to move again in normal pace. If the they could not solve the problem, the light becomes red and the line stops. They are in 96% of operating rate, considering those line stops. Also, she explained the Kanban system, showing the area where parts of a car are collected into a kits. These kits are placed just according to production sequence. The kits are replenished via kanban card in Just-in-Time principle (making what is needed, when is needed, in the amount needed. Also, kanban cards are sent electronically to suppliers to replenish the parts.

Next, we went to final inspection section. For every vehicle, inspectors carefully conduct visual and hand- checked inspection to ensure the quality. Finally, we walked through the Kaizen isle, where best kaizen implemented from 1980 until now was showed in a very visual way. There was also sustainability and eco-mindset activities (cases from 2007 – 2014) recorded on the wall like energy consumption reduction, reforestation activities, installation of solar panels on the roof of the factory capable to produce 2000KW, actions for CO2 emission reduction (-740 ton of CO2/ year). Until 2020 the target is to reduce 57% of CO2 emission. It was the end of the amazing visit.

Hana-san also explained the reasons why the original “Toyoda” family name became Toyota:

  • First reason is because Toyoda is written with 10 Japanese kanji lines, which is not a good number in Japanese culture, but “Toyota”, which has 8 kanji lines, is a lucky number in Japan (it`s kanji looks like Mount Fuji).
  • Second reason is because “Toyota” sounds better, cleaner than “Toyoda”.
  • And the third reason and the most important one is because Kiichiro Toyoda (son of Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyoda Loom Works, and president of Toyota Motor from 1941 to 1950) decided to make clear for everyone that Toyota is a company and it is separated with the family Toyoda.

After that, we went to Toyota Museum and have a time to see a very interactive, visual and all impressive Toyota and Lexus vehicle models. We had luck to see the Toyota Robot playing violin perfectly.

Just after having a great lunch at DANREN space located beside the Toyota Museum, we went to the second visit, at Green Cycle Corporation, a member of the Sony Group. This new facility completed in July 2011 has 22.526 m2 and about 180 employees. Their target is the reduction of wastes and the recycling of raw materials from products like air conditioners, cathode-ray and flat-screen televisions, PCs, washing machines and refrigerators. They can recycle 99% of all materials. The 1% that currently is not possible to recycle are not used as resources and are disposed to landfills. After a short explanation of their business and process, we saw the gemba.

It was a good opportunity for participants to train their eyes to identify Muri, Mura and Muda. The main process are the Reception of materials, Preparation area (with manual disassembly), Crushing and Sorting, then Shipping. There is the processing area of hazardous materials as well. The explanation of each process was very interesting and easy to understand, demonstrated using simple mockups. Their biggest issue is risk of materials sorted wrong manually, which is an activity that is hard to be automated. So, currently they have inspectors who checks what disassemblers has sorted.

They also promote feedback sessions with the product designers from manufacturers, in order to design products easy to disassembly with standard tools and maximize the recyclable parts (example: parts with no screw use, instead it is a slide lock mechanism). This feedback practices has been done for 10 years. Their challenge now is to produce the medals for the Olympics game in Japan 2020 from recycled metals.

After two amazing learning visits, we did a stop at Atsuta Jingu (Atsuta Shrine), is one of Shinto’s (Japan’s major religion alongside Buddhism) most important shrines. It stores the sacred sword Kusanagi, one of the three symbols of the imperial regalia. However, that the sword is never displayed to the public. It has had many important patrons such as Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa shoguns.

It was a nice and lovely place for short historical visit to call it a day. At dinner we had a delicious shabu-shabu meal. It is a Japanese nabemono hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water. The term shabu-shabu is onomatopoeic, derived from the sound emitted when the ingredients are stirred in the cooking pot and served with dipping sauces.

For this delicious dinner, we had the honor to have Mr. Matsui with us (former Toyota, RH. He was in charge to develop people in Toyota Way thinking in China). Lot of learnings from his experience about developing people. One of the remarkable explanations from Mr. Matsui was that at Toyota, people who are promoted are not those who stand out with high skills in their functional area, but those who has high skills in problem solving based on Toyota Way thinking. So they are able to handle more challenging problems, and also develop their team in problem solving skills.

Tomorrow the group will be visiting OMROM Taiyo plant in Kyoto (by bullet train), which has promoted job opportunities for disabled people  and Maruwa Electronic & Chemical Co in Nagoya, a business partner of Toyota Motor Corporation and manufactures of interior and exterior automobile components.

Thanks again for joining us on our journey this week. We hope you enjoy following along, and we’ll be back with more tomorrow!

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