Integral Logistics Management — Operations Management and Supply Chain Management Within and Across Companies

6.2.5 Just-in-Time Logistics: Quality Circles, TQM, Genchi Genbutsu, Kaizen, Poka-Yokero, Andon, 5S, and Others

Intended learning outcomes: Produce an overview on measures for motivation, qualification, and empowerment of employees as well as employee involvement (EI and quality circles. Describe concepts such as genchi genbutsu, kaizen, poka-yokero, Andon, 5S.

Just-in-time logistics comprises the measures to reduce the 3Ms and the lead time discussed in Sections 6.2.1 to 6.2.4. Beyond these, compre­hensive concepts and measures will be required in the following areas:

Motivation, qualification, and empowerment of employees: In a just-in-time environment, operators’ jobs no longer include only direct productive labor, but also planning & control tasks. As a consequence, their jobs are enriched (this is best described by the term job enrichment), but the importance of training and motivation increases. In Japan, a complicated system of bonuses, public commendation, promotions, and so on supports personnel motivation. The result of this type of personnel management, rarely seen in Europe or in North America, is devotion of employees to their duties and to their companies. In the framework of JIT logistics anywhere, a Japanese way of thinking appears. This Japanese approach is summarized in brief in Figure

The group takes priority (the individual “disappears” within the group, e.g. in quality circles).
A “sense of the whole” makes conflict among different areas much less frequent than, for example, in Europe or in North America. At Toyota, for example, university graduates in all fields undergo a 2-year training program through all areas of production.
Employee involvement (EI) — such as in quality circles — promotes acceptance of innovations and expands the quality concept to total quality management (TQM).
Cultivating a problem-solving orientation, based on reality.
•   “gembutsu”: the real thing.
•   “gemba”: the place where the truth can be found (e.g., at the customer’s site, at the shop floor)
•   “genchi genbutsu”: go and see for yourself
Continual improvement involving everyone (kaizen, see Section 18.2.8) is a major element. This may be supported by a corresponding system for improvement suggestions.
Waste or non-value added is eliminated, and this forms the basis for increased profit.
Shortages and defects become visible (preferably by means of sensors), so that they can be eliminated.
•  In the case of defects, production stops.
•  Continual process improvement eliminates the causes of defects.
Simple, “foolproof” techniques (poka-yokero) are preferred; visual control systems (andon) are more effective than numbers and reports. For details, see Section 18.2.5.
Order and cleanliness improve the morale of the operators. White work uniforms are worn on the shop floor. The five Ss (see also [ASCM22]):
•   “seiri” (sort): separate needed items from unneeded ones and remove the latter.
•   “seiton” (simplify): neatly arrange items for use.
•   “seiso” (scrub): clean up the work area.
•   “seiketsu” (standardize): do first three S daily.
•   “shitsuke” (sustain): always follow the first four S.
“Even small details are important.”

Fig.        Japanese approach (incl. continual improvement (Kaizen) and five Ss).

This kind of motivation leads ultimately to flexible capacity of the workforce through the course of time. This allows some control of fluctuations in a logistics system set up for continuous demand. There are cases where 25% of overload can be handled by “normal” over­time by employees, 25% by “special” overtime, and 50% by scheduling employees’ hours according to need.

Quality assurance is performing actions to ensure the quality of the goods:

  • Quality at the source: As buffers at user sites are minimal and the order quantities correspond exactly to the demand, no faulty products may leave the producer.
  • Quality circles of employees build quality consciousness and achieve the desired level of self-control of quality. They evaluate the measures set to ensure quality and the objectives achieved. Employees are thus encouraged to identify with their tasks and the quality of items that they produce and thus develop a feeling of responsibility for the products they manufacture.
  • Integrated procurement and supply chain management: These are measures to reduce purchasing lead time. Suppliers are included in planning, sometimes as early as the development phase (see Section 2.3). The flow of information to suppliers includes long-term components, such as blanket orders (see Section 5.2.4), and short-term components for blanket release (see Section 6.3). To be able to issue blanket orders, the user must have reliable long-term planning for the components and work to be purchased. Suppliers are no longer selected only on the basis of the lowest prices, but also according to the criteria of delivery reliability, quality, and short delivery lead times. There is an advantage to having local suppliers (distance, strikes, etc.).

Course section 6.2: Subsections and their intended learning outcomes