Category Archives: Toyota Production System

How To Get Manufacturing Back to America

I was reading the transcript of Tim Cook’s interview with Charlie Rose and was struck by this particular exchange

Tim Cook: Yeah, let me-- let me-- let me clear, China put an enormous focus on manufacturing. In what we would call, you and I would call vocational kind of skills. The U.S., over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills. I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we're currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields.
Charlie Rose: Because they've taught those skills in their schools?
Tim Cook: It's because it was a focus of them-- it's a focus of their educational system. And so that is the reality.

I am not involved in the front lines of manufacturing any more but it seems like Tim Cook is lamenting the fact that there is real shortage of people in the US that know manufacturing and industrial engineering well. This should have been expected since most of the manufacturing moved to Mexico or China. Toyota Production System amply demonstrates that majority of the manufacturing innovation and improvement happens on the plant floor (Gemba). Perhaps we should teach Toyota Production System and its principles in all Community Colleges and in the University System as well as the following topics

  • Tool and Die Making
  • Source Inspection and Poka-Yoke
  • Kaizen
  • Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)