The most precious resource: time.
The number one enemy: reinforced habits.
The goal to strive for: perfection.
These, then, are the principles of ‘lean innovation’, a practice that has revolutionised warehouse logistics and, indeed, corporate processes as a whole. Now, following an agreement between Sacmi Imola and Toyota Material Handling Italy, these principles have been applied to the warehouse.
Signed last 17th June, this joint agreement also involves analysis of end-of-line logistics flows - from grinding to polishing, from fired product cutting to management of sorting systems – and represents a tangible application of the ‘Toyota Way’, a set of 5 core values that is recognised and universally adopted by all the firms in the Toyota Group; more specifically, by starting with careful mapping of corporate flows and in-depth analysis of the difference between expected results and actual process outcomes, and by identifying activities that, from a customer standpoint, carry the greatest added value, it is possible to eliminate the time wastage (i.e. downtimes) that can be so detrimental to the competitiveness of any industrial system.
In Sacmi’s case, such an approach has been company policy for years. Indeed, the international best seller Toyota Way dedicates (among the Italian case studies) an entire chapter to Sacmi, especially to the ‘Ceramic Lean Innovation’ project implemented in 2008 to significantly reduce press mould changeover times. Later, in 2011, came an ambitious project concerning CCM plastic cap presses that resulted in job order response times being slashed from 90 to 30 days. Moreover, at the last international convention on technological trends in the sanitaryware industry – organised as part of the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of Sacmi’s Whiteware Division – there was a sharp focus on the application of lean strategies within the industry.
“Toyota didn’t just invented the “Toyota Way”, states Claudio Marani, Managing Director of the Sacmi Ceramics Division, “they’re also an international leader in the analysis and management of corporate processes (via the Toyota Academy), in the design and supply of advanced warehousing and storage systems (with Toyota Material Handling Logistics Solutions) and in the design and supply of warehousing internal logistics support systems (via a broad range of integrated products and solutions).
“This agreement is the result of exciting teamwork between Sacmi specialists and our Academy and Logistics Solutions Divisions”, adds Maurizio Mazzieri, Deputy Managing Director of Toyota Material Handling Italy. “The work”, he continues, “was carried out in an atmosphere of great mutual respect, with the team always analysing problems at their source and seeking the best possible solutions by focussing on the shared goal of continuous improvement.
Thanks to the constant guidance of the Toyota Way, we can say we’ve transformed the TPS (Toyota Production System) into another kind of TPS we call the Thinking People System, and it’s a result that fills us with pride.”
So, what next?
Following the signing of the agreement on 17th June, meetings between Sacmi staff and the Toyota team are now in progress to assess both the state of the art and possible solutions.