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The Japanese influence on the auto industry started even before the 1980s and cannot be over emphasised. The industry made tremendous strides in the global automobile market and the practices followed by the Japanese in productivity, quality and process flexibility became benchmarks across the world not only for the auto industry but other industries as well.

At Gandhar, we serve the auto industry across our product lines and have made our best effort to inculcate some of these Japanese practices in our processes. Many of our clients and partner companies follow Just in Time (JIT), Kaizen and other manufacturing techniques, and by mirroring our production and supply chain along the same lines we have been able to serve each of these stakeholders more successfully. Some of the principles and how we follow them from the plant floor to the corporate headquarters at Gandhar are described below.

oil drums
  1. JIT: The JIT manufacturing approach was adopted by Toyota in their production system since the 1970s and follows a strategy that minimises inventory and increases efficiency. Steady production, high-quality workmanship, no machine breakdowns, and reliable suppliers determine the success of the JIT production process and a reduction in inventory costs.
  2. Kaizen: While there’s no direct translation into English, Kaizen most closely translates to “change for the good.” Manufacturers typically conduct a Kaizen event where a team of employees from different areas works on a week-long project to improve a specific process and reduce waste. This short-term project is followed by analysis and, often, a change in the product line or area.
  3. 3M (Muri, Mura, Muda): The concept of Lean that built upon the Toyota Production System was developed around eliminating the three types of inefficiencies Muda (waste), Mura (unevenness), and Muri (overburden) in allocation of resources. The first M, Muri, most closely translates to “overburden” or “over-exhaustion.” The concept of Muri comes from employees or machines being pushed beyond a certain reasonable limit, to the point where that overburden actually slows down the process. Mura, roughly translates to “inconsistency.” Mura can create big obstacles for quality, especially when it leads to variation in a standard process. Manufacturers can reduce Mura by analysing previous production and sales patterns to better predict customer demand and level out production schedules accordingly. The third M Muda of the 3 Ms in Lean aims to reduce unnecessary work and improve efficiency. If a plant can reduce Muda, it can increase productivity and profits while staying cost-efficient.
  4. Gemba: The term Gemba means “the actual place,” and in manufacturing, the actual place of work typically refers to the shop or plant floor. During a Gemba Walk, team members go to the plant floor and observe processes in action. It’s important to note that the purpose of the Gemba walk isn’t to correct people or shame operators who aren’t following the process exactly. Gemba walks are meant to bring teams closer together and improve processes by identifying problems at the source.
  5. Kata: Kata literally means “the form and order of doing things.” Obsession with quality and executing processes in the correct and appropriate order is deeply rooted in Japanese culture.

Instead of rushing to fix a problem when you have little to no insight, Kata encourages thinking before doing. When plant managers coach their teams on Kata, they stress the importance of periodic observation, critical thinking, guidance and problem-solving skills. Through Kata, managers are able to focus on not only continuous improvement, but also innovation.

Gandhar Office

Manufacturing innovations by Japan’s auto industry initiated a range of changes in traditional production management. For many companies, embracing these principles has led to a visible transformation and competitive advantage. Needless to say, improvements in manufacturing processes have to be an integrated, continual and incremental effort rather than a one-time improvement. This is achieved through successive refinements in people and supply chain processes and in the production system.