Lean Trip to Toyota

Toyota - the most obvious and best known practitioner of lean. Just say Lean and people who are schooled in the subject automatically think of Toyota. I mean, they (Taiichi Ohno) developed the idea of lean which they dubbed TPS (the Toyota Production System). Toyota also recognized that perfection is hard to come by but you should run your business in a state of continuous improvement trying to achieve that perfection. I have to say that after all the hype of Toyota - reading the literature, hearing the stories, reading Ohno's biography, etc., I was very excited to venture to the plant that makes the Corolla, Matrix, and the Lexus RX350.

On 01/11/07, twenty-five employees from Burlington Operations boarded a bus to visit this often spoke of company. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) is the only Toyota manufacturer in Canada (until the completion of the Toyota in Woodstock, Ontario).

When you arrive at Toyota, you are stopped by security until a tour coordinator comes aboard the bus and makes sure that your list of attendees are actually who they say they are. After ensuring that everyone meant to be there is, you are welcomed with what seems like open arms. The staff welcomes you and specifies that you are able to take a walk around their lobby (which houses different models of cars that are made their - including the 1st Corolla that came off the TMMC line, MANY awards and a great mural on the wall depicting the monstrosity that is TMMC). TMMC sits on 400 acres and is 3.01 million square feet. That's why i used such a word as MONSTROSITY!!

After a brief look around the lobby and perhaps a quick bathroom break, we were invited into what seemed to be a training facility. We were welcomed by a brief video outlining how they produce, the core principles on how they run their business (continuous improvement and team work) and what it is like to work at Toyota.

We were given safety glasses, our clothing was checked for flammability and finally we were allowed to enter the manufacturing portion of TMMC. Just like Burlington Operations, safety is very important at Toyota - and they do not take it lightly - before the tour they provided me with a very detailed listing of what you can and can't wear, what you can and can't bring with you, etc. We boarded the tram.

Let's just say that i had an "awe-inspiring" moment when we entered the facility. It was big. Very big. There were so many visuals that my sensory system went into overload and i didn't know where i should look - i tried to take it all in. I tried my hardest, however i do have to admit that i was very taken back by the whole place that it was very difficult to concentrate on what our tour coordinator was saying.

TMMC was everything - actually more than i had expected. Everything is visual. I mean everything. You can tell in one quick glance at overhead boards what your production rate is and if there is going to be a need for overtime (and how much) at any given moment. During our tour, they needed 30mins of overtime to complete that days production. It was incredible.

To be honest, i could go on and on - and TMMC definitely inspired my creative juices to begin flowing again. I would recommend that anyone who is on this journey that we call lean go to Toyota; book a tour. You won't be disappointed.


Rudina said...

I went for a tour of TMMC early in 2006. I was truly impressed as well. They are really visual and very preofessional there. Do you do Lean at your current job? Have your certifications in Lean helped you in implementing Lean? I am an Industrial Engineer and have been focused on Lean in the last months.

Rudina said...

By reading more of your blog I found out how you are a Lean champion. What do you find most challenging being in your role? What type of manufacturing are you in? I am interested in communicating and networking with people who are Lean leaders.

Mark Graban said...

Where have you gone? Your blog was off to such a good start.

larry said...

I found some excellent Lean resource articles at http://www.leanhealthcareservices.com/blog

Shane said...

Finally, a place to talk Lean with people who have actually heard of the concepts. I have been a Lean Champion since January 07. I am having the time of my life. I finally found the job I was born to do.

Shane said...

Finally, a place to talk about Lean Manufacturing with people that understand it's concepts. I have been a Lean Champion since January 07. I'm having the time of my life. I finally found the job I was born to do.