Thank you. I think all of you share the fact that as this was the first time making protective gowns for all of you, there must have been extra time, labor cost, and expenses needed.
Furthermore, you had to split the time which you normally spend on making your company’s regular products. Didn’t you have any concerns about that?
Especially in our case, many of our products are sold in department stores, but starting in April, the same month the ad ran in the paper, department stores were closed down.
Yes, that’s true.
At the same time, we also stopped getting orders from apparel manufacturers, leaving us in a difficult spot trying to keep employment up as well. This was a way to help us with that and be able to contribute as well, so we decided to raise our hand to join.
How about you, Mr. Nakamura? Were you in a similar situation with automotive seats?
Yes, we were. We had some workers from temporary agencies, and now we are mostly operating this work with trainees.
I was given a tour of the protective gown production and processing site at Funahashi, and witnessed how dramatically things changed after Toyota became involved. Did you have any changes by introducing the Toyota Production System?
Well, typically our work patterns changed every day or once every two days anyway. Now, however, we’re just making one kind of protective gown for an extended period of time. Under this type of production, Toyota has repeatedly gone on about the “importance of one second” in the process.
He’s right about Toyota’s emphasis on that!
Since our work pattern used to vary daily, we hadn’t fully pursued (the importance or work efficiency of one second), but now that we’ve switched to making the same thing every day, it is really possible to see how much “one second” can make a difference.
That’s true. You can’t measure as easily if you’re always changing things or patterns.
Yes, that’s it. I think that has been the greatest benefit or learning for us.
Doesn’t Toyota also ask about defects, what the root cause was (of the defect), and then what you’re going to do to improve it?
That’s right, yes.
No offense. Using the production analysis board has allowed us to understand a lot of things from various departments. Because of that we’ve changed our processes from what we did before, such as having one person work alone to create a process from start to finish, to now doing things as a team.
Once we achieve or exceed a target, Toyota would tell us that it the higher number becomes the new target, so we’re always moving higher and higher, and our productivity has gone up by leaps and bounds.
Toyota gave us a lot of guidance about how ‘monozukuri (manufacturing) is really about developing people,’ and this was another chance for us to learn that developing people is to do things through teamwork.
In some ways we were surprised by their incredible sense of speed and efficiency.
It’s about how they use their time and how they place value on getting the team members involved and working right there together with workers. So we learned a lot from them about how to use time, and how to do things efficiently.
We learned from Toyota about what efforts were needed to quickly eliminate the loss in each process by deeply checking the defects and where the defects happened so that kaizen could be implemented.