From the lot production to the one-piece flow production

We introduce the improvement example of an electrical device manufacturer, Company A, that introduced the Toyota Production System in order to achieve the goal of reducing manufacturing costs by 30% within one year.

Industry Electrical device
Country / Company size Japan / About 380 employees
Issues before improvement

1 )Profitability declined and financial situation worsened due to price competition and expansion of personnel and material costs year by year.

2 ) The production volume fluctuated greatly, but the corresponding improvements and labor saving were not be promoted.

3 ) Customers requested production with short delivery time, but they were not able to meet it.

4 ) There were many work-in-process between the processes.

Effects after improvement
  • Lead time reduction: 40%
  • Necessary manpower for assembly: 16 operators → 6 operators
  • Space: 200㎡ → 110㎡

Streamline "Material and information flow"

This shop floor had a bad layout, for example, each process was a small isolated island, and there were many work-in-process inventories between the processes. So there was no flow in the shop floor and it was a treasure house of waste.
Waste of transportation between processes, waste of stagnation (work-in-process inventory), waste of space, waste of waiting,...and the lead time was long.

Therefore, in order to eliminate these wastes, they started to streamline the processes, and the challenge of "one-piece flow production" started.
There was a lot of refusal reaction from the members of the shop floor that "it was not efficient to make one by one", but the improvement activities in parallel with the practical training deepened the understanding of all the people involved, and an atmosphere was created that "The one-piece flow production is the form of a line that clarifies waste. Let's try the one-piece flow production and thoroughly eliminate waste."

As a result, the lead time was reduced by about 40% with minimal transportation and stagnation, line construction in space, and operation improvement. Furthermore, by shifting from the lot production to the one-piece flow production, 1,000 or more work-in-process boxes became unnecessary.

Clarify waste by the one-piece flow production

Many people think that if they implement the one-piece flow production, the efficiency will increase, but that is wrong. Efficiency will increase by thoroughly eliminating wastes clarified by carrying out the one-piece flow production.
This idea of clarifying such waste (making it easy to find waste) is the "visualization" of the Toyota Production System.

Investigate and improve the causes of material stagnation Examples of the causes
  • Bad layout
  • Bad line balance
  • Bad material flow

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