Japanese Words…

For all of my thousands of followers I’m sure you all noticed that I didn’t post for the last couple of weeks. I spent some time on a badly needed vacation, visiting Seattle and Japan. As mentioned in a previous post on travel, it was very inconvenient to spend the hour or two online that it takes to write a post. In any case, I am back for a while, though I am headed to Tucson next week again for work.

While on my trip I was able to make use of my limited Japanese. This got me to thinking of some of the words that have been adopted from the Japanese language for manufacturing. I have already mentioned Pokayoke, or mistake proofing in a previous post. Another word commonly used in manufacturing is Kanban, which means “signboard” in Japanese. This word refers to Lean or Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing where a set of cards or signs at each workcell is used for scheduling of production. This system is used to determine what to produce, when to produce and how much to produce for optimum productivity.

Another word often used is Kaizen, which means improvement, or change for the better. This process was popularized by W Edwards Deming in the post war rebuilding of Japan and used extensively by Toyota for continuous improvement processes. I am beginning the Green and Black belt programs in lean manufacturing at Purdue University this Fall and will probably be covering these and various other concepts extensively.

Another word occasionally used in manufacturing is Seppuku, or ritual suicide, usually after a project fails miserably, but we won’t go there…

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