Toyota is known for great manufacturing processes. When you hear of Lean or lean manufacturing, you should think Toyota.
Toyota pumps products rapidly through its pipeline thanks to a development process unencumbered by wheel spinning and administrative hurdles. At Toyota product development isn’t so much about developing products as it is about developing knowledge about the product. Do this right and quality products emerge naturally.
“A lot of companies put in numerous administrative tasks which supposedly get you quality, but they don’t have a process which generates quality from the start… It’s not uncommon to see Six Sigma procedures embedded in a huge product-development process. Product development just doesn’t work that way. At Toyota, quality is simply ingrained in the way they think and the way they work.” - Michael N. Kennedy, an authority on the redesign of organizational processes
Developing the manufacturing process plans at the same time you do the design often results in a lot of expensive tooling that just gets thrown away,” Michael explains. That’s because the design isn’t stable yet. Instead, you need manufacturing and engineering jointly deciding on trade-offs in the early stages. It is only once you’ve finished the resulting sets of trade-off curves that it is OK to do process planning and detailed design simultaneously.
The set-based philosophy includes producing redundant systems as backups. Durward Sobek from Montana State University says Toyota tends to stay as flexible as possible until relatively late in the development stage.
“Test first, then design.” – Michael Kennedy
How do they manage documentation of workload? They use what is called an A3 – A lightweight tool (size of A3 paper) to document what simply needs to be done. An A3 template has the outline:
- Background of issue
- Current Condition
- Target Condition
- Root Cause Analysis
- Follow up
Bottom line to develop software like Toyota?
- Lay off the heavy administrative tasks and processes. They are waste.
- Have your design and development work together to sift through priorities early.
- Test first.
- Use lightweight documentation methods. Prioritize!
[HT: Machine Design]