Urgent improvement for a factory of manufacturing industry where its sales were expected to down by half

Metal Processing Company A conducted an urgent improvement as sales of some products were expected to down by half after half a year due to changes in the external environment.
In order to improve profitability by reducing costs, develop new products, and expand sales, they decided to turn the factory into a showroom.

Industry Metal processing
Country / Company size Japan / About 180 employees
  • Profit improvement
  • Turning a factory into a showroom
  • Productivity: 40%UP
  • Cost reduction: 30 million yen / year
  • 5S patrol: found 300 cases→improved 250 cases

5S patrol

We improved not only the processes where production is expected to decrease, but also the entire factory since the purpose is to turn the factory into the showroom in the end.

First, we started with thorough 5S. There were operators who thought that it was unavoidable that the workplace became dirty, and sales people who wanted to invite customers to the factory but could not invite because of the dirty.

At the 5S patrol that was held once a week, not only people involved with manufacturing but also the president and sales personnel participated. In addition to pointing out, they actively participated in 5S improvement activities.

We also made PR display, from the customer's perspective, to appeal the strengths of our company.

Improvement points

They said that the reason for the number of WIP (Work in process) and inventory was to respond to sudden orders for a short delivery time, but a survey showed that a large number of defective products was one of the main causes for the increase in WIP and inventory.

If a defective product was found, we made them thoroughly investigate the cause and improve it even if the operation was stopped in order to prevent the recurrence.

To reduce the lead time, we started with eliminating wastes for the purpose of labor saving and line balancing.

Elimination of defective products
  • Investigate the cause each time and prevent recurrence
  • Build in quality at manufacturing process
  • Do not pass a defective product to the next process
WIP reduction
  • Introduction of Kanban
Reduction of inventory management
  • Introduction of handy terminal
  • Display as you can see at a glance
  • Reduction of time for inventory
Lead time reduction
  • Construction of line without wastes
  • Reduction of walk - Place what you need within reach
  • Inspection process - Introduction of AI
  • Line balance

Advantages of turning a factory into a showroom

The clean and tidy impression of the factory not only improved productivity but also had various effects.

  • Motivation for 5S - Keep factory clean and tidy for frequent customer visits

  • Increase devotion to the company and motivation of employees - Professional awareness improves skills

  • Orders increased - Even if they don't explain their products, customers understand by seeing the factory

  • Toward the image of a good company - Resolve the shortage of human resources


柿沢 高一Koichi Kakizawa

At Ricoh, he launched a Ricoh Production System based on the Toyota Production System.
After that, he instructed other industries, such as food and confectionery industry and medical industry etc., on the Toyota Production System.
He works on machine productivity improvement, capacity improvement of bottleneck machines, cost reduction of conveyor production system, construction of cell production system (single person system, rotation system, work sharing system, work divide system), construction of production line using carts, establishment of 5S workplace culture, and quality and equipment management.

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