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CSM members learn about productions systems with visit to the Toyota Burnaston plant
Dr Nicola Bateman, Deputy Director of the Centre for Service Management and PhD Students; Higor Dos-Reis-Leite and Sibi Markose visited the Toyota, Burnaston plant to observe and understand the Production Systems in operation.
The customer care staff introduced various spheres of Toyota activities; business volume and networks, corporate responsibility, and operational improvements over time in her welcome speech. Later, with the help of a jigsaw puzzle game, they highlighted the importance of team-work, standardisation, and work instructions to perform the tasks easily and efficiently. Initially none of the three teams could solve the puzzle in the given five minutes time. However, after a brain storming exercise, each team developed work plans to solve the puzzle and completed it around two minutes following the plan. This example showed how Toyota use simple techniques to educate their employees to improve their operations every day. After this session, we were taken to the production floor to see the manufacturing processes on the floor. At every point, the accompanied workplace coach explained the production process in detail.
As operations management researchers, it was interesting to see how Toyota reduce their cycle time by continuous improvements. The majority of the operational staff spends approximately 60 seconds to perform their task with no or less variance. This is made possible by standardising the work with proper training and clear work instructions. By continuous improvement, Toyota provide maximum value to the customers without affecting the quality of the product.
The tour concluded with a question and answer session. One of the members of the senior management team answered questions from the visitors. This visit was helpful to understand how important is breaking down the complex processes into simple steps, enabling everyone to perform their job with perfection without affecting the quality of work and life.