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Professor Hines illustrates how quick changeover methods have been deployed requiring a high degree of precision in the manufacturing process alongside modularity. The company also actively involves their supplier in what might be described as ‘high pressure’ improvement collaboration.
While the advantage of Japanese car makers over their western counterparts is well-documented in the existing lean literature, Professor Peter Hines identifies that interesting applications of lean can be found in other parts of the Toyota Corporation. For example, evidence of the application of lean thinking can be found in Toyota’s house building operations.
Toyota decided to enter the prefabricated housing market in 1975 in order to leverage the competitive advantage accrued in the car industry. Their customer order to final production leadtime is less than a month, typically 20-25 days, with 80% of the construction activity taking place within the factory.