Hitachi opened its excavator factory in the Netherlands after 6 months of major renovations. The factory now has the capacity to produce 7000 units, up from the previous 5000. This revamp was necessitated by increasing demand for the company’s high quality products.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the factory’s General Manager Marco Verhoef said, “We are ready for the future, to supply more machines at shorter delivery times and lower costs.”
Among the improvements the factory did was to redesign the flow of products to conform with lean manufacturing principles. The factory has also implemented takt time production which means every process in the factory moves at the rate of customer demand.
Using lean manufacturing techniques, the company was able to increase its capacity without increasing the workforce. Inventory reduction within the factory has enhanced the flow of value and the company is able to produce only what is demanded by the market at a lower cost.
It is also instructive that the company aims to attain the new capacity with only 100 staff. This means that their productivity will increase by over 30%.
Another lean manufacturing tool that the company is employing to optimize workflow is the Kanban system. Kanbans give signals to manufacturing processes as to the quantity and type of product to be produced.