Flow production - 2nd condition

From: Norman Bodek

Condition 2: "To make facilities small and exclusive use."

Many years back in Japan I spent several days with Mr. Chihiro Nakao visiting some of his clients.  Earlier he had spent many years at a Toyota subsidiary working with Mr. Ohno and Dr. Shingo converting Toyota suppliers to just-in-time.  One day he said, “Norman, a machine should be only four times larger than the part.”  A very simple statement that was also very powerful.  It was something that I had never thought about before. We get locked into paradigms that machines should cost a lot of money,  be big, heavy, made of steel, unmovable – bolted to the floor, dirty, dripping oil, outer black panels covering the machines insides, repaired only by maintenance engineers, very long set-up times required, etc.  Now with a very simple statement all of the past perceptions were blown away.

Look, with small machines we can easily move them into one-piece flow cells, make repairs quickly, teach operators how to fix the machines, eliminate the oil problems, etc.

In the past, we thought that machines should have many “bells and whistles, with features to use “just-in-case.”  Now we know that we want simple inexpensive machines that can be used for one purpose, to produce what is required by the customer to make the product, easily worked on by the workers or robots, installed with very simple grasping and release features to allow people to be separated from the machines, etc.  You change a whole paradigm when you say, “the machine should be only four times the size of the part.”

First reaction, either “crazy, or “can’t be done,” but after you get over the initial shock, you can sit down and try to figure out a way for it to happen.

I remember earlier in my life when I was president of a Data Processing company with a facility in Grenada in the Caribbean.  I was given a very large and very difficult conversion project from the New York Telephone.  It took me months to really understand the customer’s requirements and now I stood in front of 150 data entry operators in Grenada, many of them with only an eighth grade education, and I had to somehow teach them how to do this very complicated job.  At first, I thought it couldn’t be done.  Then I thought.  I had no choice.  If I wanted to continue eating they had to do it and they had to do it successfully. Once I broke through the greatest barrier, “my own mind,” slowly these wonderful people fully grasped the work and succeeded splendidly.

I realized then that the biggest barrier to change was me.  Once you can realize that you can do almost anything.  So work with this second condition and see how it applies to you and let me hear from you.