Implementing TPS: A Cultural Transition to Success

Sept. 16, 2009
Lessons learned from The Raymond Corporation

The Raymond Corporation joined the Toyota family in 2000. Founded in 1922 as a family-run manufacturer of forklifts, The Raymond Corporation first was acquired in 1997 by BT Industries, which itself got acquired by Toyota Industries Co. in 2000. Thus began The Raymond Corporation's introduction to the Toyota Production System (TPS).

The Raymond TPS journey was no out-of-the-box success, despite Toyota's involvement, explained Jim Hauss, manager, quality assurance, at The Raymond Corp., Greene, N.Y. Hauss described the firm's continuing TPS journey during IndustryWeek's Best Plants conference held earlier this year. Key to its progression, he explained, was to focus on starting with the simple. That meant kaizens, 5S and, importantly, Asa-Ichi, the company's morning meetings designed to visualize and address problems daily.

The Asa-Ichi Process The multiple phases of the Asa-Ichi Process could just as easily be called cycles of learning, explained Hauss, who provided the audience with a detailed walk through each phase to illustrate how progression through those phases led The Raymond Corporation through a cultural transformation as well. For example, Phase 1 of the Asa-Ichi began with daily morning stand-up meetings at 8:15 a.m. to address the previous day's defects found at final inspection. The quality assurance team collected the defect information and presented it during the morning meeting. Within 24 hours they were expected to articulate the root cause of the defects and provide countermeasures for each defect. Important to note in this phase was that only the quality department was involved and only at final inspection. "Anything we found the customer would have found," Hauss explained.

The key, Hauss emphasized, was to keep the process simple. And even keeping it simple, The Raymond Corporation remained in Phase 1 for about six months. That's how long it took to get those involved in the process comfortable with the process, he said.

Then came Phase 2, which transitioned responsibility of the root cause analysis and countermeasures from quality to product line supervision. This got a second function involved in the morning meeting (which is 30 minutes long, with a hard stop), as the quality department remained responsible for facilitating the meeting as well as the overall performance metrics. Production, however, presented the defects as well as the countermeasures.

It took some four to five months for the company to learn how to do Phase 2 well, Hauss said.

Not surprisingly, Phase 3 expanded the depth and the breadth of the morning meetings by bringing additional functions into the morning meeting. Now technical support organizations took on the root cause/countermeasures task. Still the meetings remained 30 minutes long. Additionally, the focus on defects transitioned to disruptions, defined as anything that stops workers from doing their jobs. It could be missing paperwork or a shortage of material on the supply line. In this phase The Raymond Corporation also added some inspection further up the line, Hauss explained.

As the phases progressed, additional departments were drawn into the morning meeting, driving further breadth and depth into the process. Today, several phases later in the Asa-Ichi process, suppliers too have become part of the process.

Among the outcomes of this process, Hauss notes, is the development of a single process to drive improvements, with one set of metrics -- "a common language," he says.

You can view the entire full video presentation at Implementing TPS: A Cultural Transition to Success.

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