GMC Leadership Program Participants’ Lean Immersion at Toyota

June 13 2017

Participants on the GMC Leadership for Manufacturing Excellence Program were fortunate to be able to take part in a rare opportunity that sadly is unlikely to come around again. They learned firsthand the lean principles of the Toyota Production System at the Lean Problem Solving Workshop hosted by Toyota Manufacturing Altona with Anthony Clyne, Lean Facilitator at TXM as part of this GMC program designed to increase leadership capacity in the manufacturing sector.

Throughout the day the Toyota team members explained and demonstrated the philosophy, lean tools and methodologies that are synonymous with the successful manufacturing system. Since its opening in 1994 the Altona plant team have been constantly improving every aspect of the manufacturing process; applying rigorous problem solving techniques in daily operations and through breakthrough improvements or kaizen events. Their efforts are constantly acknowledged by visiting Toyota Japan auditors who frequently ensure standards are met and results achieved.

The Toyota team set GMC participants a problem solving exercise in the Powertrain plant and 4 groups headed to the engine production area determined to find opportunities for improvement.  Our participants observed the process against the Standardised Work Combination Table which detailed precisely how long each element of the task should take and in what sequence. They talked to operators and after a short while gaining a detailed understanding were able to identify those all important 1- 3 second improvements on cycle time.

After a short break it was back to the drawing board with Toyota team members coaching participants through a simple improvement tool, assisting them to describe and record 3-4 of the problems observed and to identify some low cost easy to implement countermeasures. Each team presented back to Toyota management who were pleased with the findings and committed to take them further. Despite the long announced plant closure later in the year, these seemingly small improvements will have a positive impact on the plant’s ability to meet demand at safety, quality and cost targets until that time.

Back in the training room Anthony complemented the practical application of the problem solving process with the theory and participants took the opportunity to work through lean problem solving methodology on their own business area issues to identify root causes and potential solutions. They also identified what could be applied back at their workplaces based on all aspects of the day such as 5S, team culture, visual management and quality circles.

We were all extremely grateful for the opportunity to visit the plant, see the Toyota Production System firsthand and immerse in the Toyota culture. The Toyota team at all levels were a credit to the company. They shared their knowledge and expertise freely for our benefit, adding so much value to GMC manufacturing leaders.

We wish the Toyota team members all the best for the future and are optimistic they can capitalise on the unique and valuable skill sets gained from working within this world renowned lean system.

Jenny Perks
Project Manager