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Just One China "TPS" Example

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Bangkok Post Wednesday 25 May 2005 – China sourcing: Are you ready?

On one hand, this author says:

They also talk about a successful implementation of the Toyota Production System/Lean Enterprise principles.

He also directly observed this:

The work ethic is such that the young female workers are there six days per week for 10 to 12 hours, steadily working away at an impressive rate, absolutely no talking.

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Absolutely no talking? Sounds like this factory doesn't understand The Toyota Way or basic tenets of lean, including employee involvement and respect for the workers. If they expect their production workers to just work like machines all day, that's not lean.

Now I understand this writer might not know much (or anything) about lean, so he's probably in no position to critically think about what he saw. But still, this should jump out at any of us as not being a true lean example. No wonder the factory's “error rates that far exceed the expectations of Six Sigma.” Good thing that some Chinese companies are going to lean training in North America (see next article).

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This is also a reminder of how easy it is for American factories to say they are “doing lean” or “have implemented lean” (as if you can ever say that in the past tense). You have to go look with your own eyes!

Another China lean perspective — I'm certain some Chinese companies/consultants are trying to do it right.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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