Thursday, August 23, 2012

An ongoing revolution in manufacturing

3D printing may not only change the way we make ordinary products, like a hammer, a toy, or even a stradivarius, it may reshape the industry spectra entirely and completely alter the way how everything is produced, from "growing" human organs to "building" new homes. Below is one example:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Some thoughts on Toyota Production System

In my last post, I mentioned my trip to Japan to learn the Toyota Production System, but I didn't offer any thoughts on it there. If you still have some interests, here is an article I recently wrote (in Chinese), titled "The Way Out of the Cargo Cult of the Toyota Production System", mainly targeted at Chinese companies. In this short article, I explained why there is a cargo-cult-style learning of TPS in Chinese firms and how to find a way out of it and even make it more suitable to these firms.

Nagoya, Toyota Production System, and Kaizen

I had a trip last month to Nagoya, Japan to get trained in Toyota Production System and its various tools and ramifications. Those lectures were, of course, useful and sometimes inspirational. I was even awed by the smart designs of some parts of Toyota's manufacturing system, like the use of various Kanban cards to coordinate material flows as well as to replenish supplies.

Eventually, I found that these methods and designs are not at all come about at once. Instead, most of them are the results of a methodology that Toyota called "Kaizen", which literally means continuous improvement. Even so, I still found that it's often hard to sustain such efforts to make improvements on some preexisting things over and over again. BUT, as I discovered this (see the pic below), I said to myself, "well, maybe there is nothing on this planet that the Japanese can't make improvements on..."