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Toyota Kata: A Lean Strategy for Keeping Up with the Pace of Change

“Why are our changeovers taking so long?”

If you’ve asked this question on the shop floor, more than likely you were met with blank stares by your employees. Open-ended questions like this are overwhelming, so employees try to find quick answers that don’t really address the problem. They don’t have a starting point to form an answer.

But what if you asked a question with a specific, achievable goal?

“What steps can we take to reduce changeover time by 15 minutes?”

You’ve then provided your employees with a measurable goal in the form of a question. Your workers may feel empowered to answer with some hands-on suggestions for incremental changes, such as reducing setup steps or combining workstations. This in turn could not only reduce changeover time, but significantly eliminate wait times and inventories.This approach is often described as Kaizen, or “continuous improvement,” which serves as the backbone for lean manufacturing. Kaizen uses the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) problem-solving cycle to encourage manufacturers to use small ideas to solve big problems, such as costly, time-intensive changeovers.

With the world of manufacturing evolving at a breathtaking pace thanks to developments such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), labor skill gaps, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Toyota Kata gives smaller manufacturers a lean strategy to help them grow with these developments. It empowers employees with the skills they can use to continuously improve, adapt, and generate ideas for a strategic, competitive advantage. Click here or on the image above to read the full article.

How to Integrate Toyota Kata Within Your Facility

By integrating Toyota Kata as part of your manufacturing best practices, your employees can successfully overcome obstacles and develop more confidence and scientific thinking to solve problems.

The MEP National Network’s overview of Toyota Kata is a first step to empowering your workforce to become more agile, so they can find new ways to cut waste, develop new technologies, and adapt to these new changes in the ever-increasing competitive world of manufacturing. As the Show-Me State’s designated MEP center and Toyota Kata expert, Missouri Enterprise has practitioners on hand to help companies like yours or those you work with implement this program.

Let one of our Area Business Managers know if they can help!

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