The book “The Toyota Way – Halving prices by cutting costs” contains a chapter on eliminating serious muda* . In it, Taiichi Ohno’s most influential disciple, Yoshihito Wakamatsu** recounts his experience of consulting for an electrical installation company.
Despite all the corrective measures applied by management, this one company simply could not make a profit.
A workflow analysis soon revealed the main cause of the problem: materials and components were stored in large, untidy warehouses. When employees received their instructions for the day, they had to search for everything they needed, load it into their vans (again in a higgledy-piggledy manner) and set off for the installation site. Every day, employees wasted between half and one hour looking for the materials they needed to start work.
A quick check revealed a complete lack of order in both stores and vans.
“After the stores, they showed me the inside of the vans they used for their work,”- explains Wakamatsu- “and there too the material was simply thrown in randomly. That evening I asked the employees returning from their work sites whether they knew exactly what types and quantities of materials they had on board their vans. Nearly all of them replied that they did not know.”
The master of lean manufacturing went on to say "Since there was no semblance of order in either the stores or the vans, a great deal of useless stock had built up and it was impossible to use the parts and materials efficiently. The amount of waste was incalculable.”.
Making a quick calculation using the example provided by Wakamatsu, if one van carries useless stock (because it is not accessible or impossible to find) worth, say, 300 euros in value, then in a fleet of 100 vans,i the waste will come to 30,000 euros!
On top of this, time was wasted sorting out material every day before setting off on the road.
Then there was the cost of damage to material during transport and the purchase of the same material twice due to inaccurate inventories, to say nothing of the incredible amount of time wasted when employees did not have the necessary materials with them.
Even without taking these additional wastes into account, the 45 minutes (on average) wasted daily, equivalent to around 10% of the working day, were enough to explain why this Japanese company could never make a profit!
The situation described by Wakamatsu is not far from the everyday reality of many tradesmen. How many people sort through a disorderly pile of material every morning – often far bigger than necessary – then simply throw what they need into the back of their van and hope to be able to find it again later?
It goes without saying that having a smaller and more orderly stock and a tidy van can save you money, by letting you concentrate your time and resources on your actual work, optimising earnings and reducing waste.
Keeping your van tidy is a piece of cake with Syncro System racking. Once you have determined your requirements with the help of the Syncro installation team, your van can be fitted with exactly the racking system you need. The installation itself takes very little time and does not alter the van interior in any way, so that your vehicle can always be restored to its original condition without damaging the bodywork.
The Syncro System Group adopted Toyota’s lean manufacturing philosophy years ago in its Italian plants in San Zeno di Cassola and in its subsidiaries around the world. That’s what lean inside means. But Syncro is also lean outside, because thanks to its smart van racking system, Syncro helps customers like electricians, plumbers and builders to apply the basic principles of lean manufacturing in their own daily work.
*Muda is a Japanese term that means useless, pointless and unproductive activity. Muda is one of the fundamental concepts of lean manufacturing.
**Who was Yoshihito Wakamatsu? Yoshihito Wakamatsu was born in 1937 in the prefecture of Miyagi, in the north east of Japan. He worked for the Toyota Motor Corporation until 1984, serving various areas of the company in rotation (administration, production, purchasing and sales). He worked directly under Taiichi Ohno, the inventor of the Toyota method, and dedicated much of his life to applying and improving the system and promoting it to other companies. He became chief adviser to the Japan Sales & Marketing Foundation in 2009. Yoshihito Wakamatsu wrote around 60 books on lean manufacturing.