1st Edition

Lean Today, Rich Tomorrow Succeeding in Today's Globalization Chaos

By Joe Bichai Copyright 2015
    219 Pages 46 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    This book is about an actual Lean transformation that took place in a 100-year-old North American manufacturer's factory. Lean Today, Rich Tomorrow: Succeeding in Today's Globalization Chaos tells the story of how an obsolete factory destined for closure was transformed into the most productive North American manufacturer in its field, but this shift didn't happen without its share of obstacles.

    Despite the problems the company encountered, the implementation of the Lean/TPS with JIT and Kaizen absolutely ensured its survival while many companies in the field fell under the shadow of bankruptcy. The company eliminated the bad habits associated with its antiquated push system, including piecework, batch process, and rework, and transformed its factory into a JIT/Lean philosophy-driven plant with one-piece flow, U-shaped production lines, and productivity sharing.

    Telling a tale of adventure, the book guides readers through the steps taken by the company to improve processes and results over a ten-year period. This success story will give managers the tools to succeed in rallying and training a workforce to achieve Lean goals through a substantive change in culture. The book keeps the use of theory to a minimum. However, to make it useful to both students and professionals, it explains the basic concepts of the Toyota system.

    Presented in a compelling story format, Lean Today, Rich Tomorrow: Succeeding in Today's Globalization Chaos is a practical work, told the way it was experienced. It avoids complex formulas, algorithms, and grand theories and instead illustrates the process used by this Canadian enterprise and its employees to achieve their successful implementation without the help of consultants.

    Ten Years Later
    June 1991

    Setting the Challenge
    July 1991
    An Analysis of the Situation
    Economic Context of the Shoe Industry in Canada
    State of Our Factory
    The Solution: Toyota’s Lean Production System and Kaizen
    Where to Begin?
    Our Way of Working

    Rethinking the Factory’s Layout and Production Philosophy
    August 1992
    The Module: A Production Nerve Center
    The Design and Setup of the Pilot Module
    Choosing a U-Shaped Module
    Traditional Organization and Manufacturing Methods
    Experimenting with New Ways of Working
    Comparison of the Results Obtained
    Presenting an Expense Budget to Management
    Chapt er 4 G etting the Employees Involved
    October 1992
    Worries and Resistance among the Employees
    Guarantees and Commitments from the Company

    New Layout and Training
    November 1992
    Planning and Implementing the New Layout
    Tailored Training Programs
    Human Relations and Communication
    Technical Training
    Directed Practice

    Reviewing the Salary, Structure, and Bonus System

    March 1993
    A Complex Existing Situation
    A Crucial Simplification
    Seeking Consensus

    Organizing the Work
    June 1993
    Individual Work versus Teamwork
    Carefully Considered Team Composition
    Developing Autonomy
    A Factory without Inspectors: Is It Possible?
    Putting It to the Test
    Kickoff Problems and Friction
    Health Problems
    Tensions within the Teams
    Frustrations about the Removal of Privileges
    A Concession to Benefit Workplace Atmosphere

    Overcoming the Obstacles
    November 1993
    A Thunderclap
    Perfect Timing for a New Project
    Preliminary Study to Pinpoint the Problems
    Portrait of the Factory Population
    First Investigation into Health Problems
    Second Investigation into Problems
    with Psychological Well-Being and Communication
    Summary and a Concrete Plan of Action
    The Facilitator: A Positive Agent for Change
    From Supervisor to Coach: A Changing Position
    The Foreman: Caught between a Rock and a Hard Place
    Moving from Supervisor to Coach: A Difficult Transition
    Choosing Supervisors Who Have What It Takes to Coach

    Establishing a Gain-Sharing System to Stimulate Productivity
    April 1994
    A Bonus System that Gets in the Way of the Objective
    Need for a Gain-Sharing Model
    Sharing Plan Based on Productivity
    An Employer/Employee Committee to Put the Plan into Action
    After Two Years, a Mitigated Report on Shared Gains
    Adjusting Our Aim
    New Just-in-Time Training to Get Employees Involved
    Spectacular but Fragile Results
    Revision of the Productivity Gain-Sharing Plan
    Seeking a New, More Equitable Gain-Sharing System
    A Surprise from the Employees
    Report that Inspires Vigilance

    Carrying Out a First Assessment and Detecting Errors along the Way

    January 1999
    Length of the Learning Curve
    Effect of Bottlenecks
    Scope of the Information Technology (IT) Adjustments Required
    Length of Time to Implement Hand-to-Hand

    Putting Kaizen into Practice in the Factory

    January 2002
    Examples of Small Kaizen
    Adding a Velcro® Strip on the Sewing Machines
    Installation of a Scrap-Catching Bag
    Designing Functional Packaging Tables
    Design of a Heel Reinforcement Container
    Creation of a Color Code for Bottom Injection and Transport
    Example of a Medium Kaizen
    Installation of a Box Lifting System
    Example of a Big Kaizen
    Automation of Strap Cutting and Gluing Tasks
    Example of Everyday Kaizen

    Tour of a Chinese Supplier: A Wake-Up Call

    Early 1998
    More than a Company: A City!
    Workers in Residence
    Realm of Muda
    Quality, but at the Expense of Productivity
    Difficult New Awareness
    Unequal Struggle

    End of an Era
    Increasingly Fierce Global Competition
    Factory that Is Productive, but Underused
    Changing Fashion
    Conflation of Circumstance
    Inescapable Situation
    Hard Decision
    Painful Delay
    Closure Announcement
    Final Weeks
    After Contrecoeur: Lean at Work

    Winning Conditions for a Successful JIT and Kaizen Implementation Project
    March 1993
    Unconditional Commitment from Senior Management
    Attitude of Honesty and Openness toward the Workers
    Full Commitment from All Employees
    Choosing Hand-to-Hand or Pull Production: Simply Inevitable
    Aspiration to Become a World-Class Company

    Toyota’s Lean Production System, Kaizen, and Related Concepts
    Toyota Production System
    Total Quality Management
    Just in Time, Pull Production, One-Piece Flow, and Takt Time
    Total Productive Maintenance, Overall Equipment Effectiveness, and Jidoka
    The 5S
    Elimination of Mudas
    Visual Management
    Suggestion Program
    Rules for the Smooth Operation of the Gemba
    Toyota Production System and Kaizen in Brief

    Tour of World-Class Japanese Factories

    Toyoda Iron Works
    Yamaha Motors
    NGK Insulators, Chita Factory
    Togo Seisakusho
    Taiho Kogyo
    Toyota, Takaoka Factory

    Myths and Realities of Japanese Industry Workers
    Japanese Workers Are Very Disciplined and Respect
    Authority Much More than Workers in Other Countries
    Japanese Factories Offer Their Workers Lifelong Employment
    In the Toyota System, Any Worker Can Halt the Production Chain
    In Japan, Rejects Are Measured in Parts per Million Rather than by Percentage
    Chapt er 18 Toyota’s Troubles
    A Highly Publicized Accident
    Mountain out of a Molehill
    Lessons Learned
    Rebuilding Trust
    Chapt er 19 North American Production Returns to the Fold
    Offshoring: A Win–Win Situation?
    Offshoring Also Comes at a Price
    The Pendulum Swings Back
    Appendix: Bonus Plans and Productivity Gain-Sharing Plans
    Scanlon Plan
    Rucker Plan
    Improshare Plan


    Joe Bichai has been recognized and looked upon as a leader in the world of Lean manufacturing. Throughout his career he enthusiastically shared his knowledge of Lean and continuous improvement philosophy. Committed to the success of domestic manufacturing, he has conducted numerous seminars and taught future grads how to be competitive in our global markets.

    After graduating from the Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal as an industrial engineer, Bichai joined Electrolux as a young and eager engineer. He worked his way through the ranks and was promoted to I.E. Manager, later to Manufacturing engineering manager and to finally plant manager. In 1986, he decided to start his own company, JITech Manufacturing services, offering his customers, a one-stop shop for manufacturers looking for plastic molds as well as molded and assembled products.

    In 1991, he seized the opportunity to partner up with Kamik (Genfoot Inc.), the leading Canadian footwear manufacturer. Since then, Bichai has been leading the manufacturing activities of their three North American factories.

    In 1998, the CSIE (Canadian Society for Industrial Engineering) awarded him the Leadership award for promoting Canadian productivity.

    In 2000, he was awarded "the most influential engineer of his decade" award by the Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal’s industrial engineering department.

    For the past 30 years, Bichai has been a proud advocate of the Japanese manufacturing management techniques that led him in 2001 to join the Gemba Kaizen and Just-in-Time study tour at the Japan Kaizen Institute, where he perfected his continuous improvement knowledge learning from Imai Masaaki, founder of the Kaizen Institute.

    In 2007, Bichai’s French version book Agir ou Périr was published by the Presses Internationales de Polytechnique and was selected as a finalist in the annual Quebec Better Business Book Grand Prix competition.