Lean in Europe : Visit 33 : TOYOTA Valenciennes

March 05 2024 -> March 06 2024

Lean in Europe #33 - 05 & 06 March 2024 in Valenciennes

TOYOTA Motor Manufacturing France (TMMF), in Valenciennes, hosted the final Lean in Europe visit. As Toyota is the source and inspiration for many of the tools and approaches covered during the previous visits, it made sense to organise the final visit to it to enable participants to see how it uses the basic tools and principles and enhances them with digitalisation. Participants were able to visit, engage with and discuss with Toyota members to hear and see first hand what and how the Toyota Approach is and works.

Toyota Production System and the Toyota Way are the vision and philosophy driving everything Toyota does. TPS seeks to achieve the complete elimination of all waste in pursuit of the most efficient methods. The Toyota Way seeks to define how the full membership of Toyota will work together to achieve best products for their customers, now and into the future. TMMF has 5,000 people working in 3 shifts to produce a total of 1,250 Yaris and Yaris Cross cars a day, using Jidoka to ensure quality (automation with a human face, combining automated processes and human intelligence and problem-solving) and the Just-in-Time method to achieve their targets. Process standardisation and Kaizen (continuous improvement) are key - over the past 20 years, the TMMF team have identified 52,900 improvement ideas, building the capability of their people and processes.

Thanks to its 58-second takt time and 3-shift system, TMMF has the highest output of all of TOYOTA's car plants - manufacturing 1200 Yaris and Yaris Crosses a day (400 per shift). After getting a detailed introduction to the plant, its processes and how it is meeting environmental concerns, participants went on a comprehensive Gemba tour, seeing the whole process starting in the stamping shop where coils of steel are stamped to form different parts, through the body shop (the most robotised part of the process) and the paint shop to assembly and finally to the quality booth where the car's engine is turned on for the first time and a final check is made to ensure that all the options requested by the car's customer have been added.

During the tour, participants were able to go into the Obeya Room in the stamping area. There they learned how through the introduction of digitalisation, Toyota members on the shopfloor are able to use smartphone apps to update a central computer system. Thanks to a big touchscreen in the Obeya Room, information can be easily recalled (no need to look for an email attachment or at a spreadsheet file or a paper document) and shared at the start of each production shift, in the handover between shifts and in the daily 'power meeting' (where members can raise any concerns that can be escalated for support from engineering or other departments). This digitalisation has led to savings of 20-30 minutes allowing group leaders to spend more time on the shop floor.

The visit to TMMF concluded first with an explanation of its digitalisation strategy (to sustain existing activities, to bring new value by removing muda (waste), to prepare the plant for the future and to up-skill the plant's members) and then with a debriefing session and Q&A.

The 20 participants on the visit came from 13 countries and represented a wide range of industries - packaging, automotive, hospitality, cork stoppers, cooking systems, piping, steel, retail, food & beverage, animal healthcare, etc. The visit was hosted by Jim Crosbie, TMMF's President and led by Richard Keegan, Adjunct Professor of Lean Operational Excellence at Trinity Business School, the EU-Japan Centre's Lean Advisor.

Given that this was the final Lean in Europe visit, participants who had hosted and/or attended previous visits or the WCM mission in Japan shared their experiences. During the group discussion on the evening before the visit, participants learned the importance Toyota attaches to genchi genbutsu (going to the ‘real place’ where value is created, where interactions are happening between process and material, where engagement is happening with the people involved) and to minotake (where you are today). Priority was given to applicants with a clear role in shaping their company's lean strategy / process management activities who explained why their company would like them to take part in this visit.


Visit agenda

Split over two days, the TOYOTA visit included:

Evening of Tuesday, 5 March (at a local hotel):

  • Lean discussion led by Richard Keegan, Adjunct Professor of Lean Operational Excellence at Trinity Business School, the EU-Japan Centre's Lean Advisor, with the participation of two representatives of TMMF and all 20 participants.


Morning and early afternoon of Wednesday, 6 March (at TOYOTA):

  • A look back at the impact of the EU-Japan Centre's Lean & WCM activities - during the coach transfer between the hotel and TOYOTA, participants who had hosted previous visits or taken part in them or in WCM shared their experiences
  • An introduction to TMMF
  • Go to the Gemba with a plant tour through the whole process from stamping of the steel up to the final quality check.
  • A visit to and explanation about the Obeya Room (project rooms for team-based working with displays for sharing and reviewing goals, policies, timelines, progress and problems, etc., designed to facilitate knowledge-sharing, collaborations and decision-making and problem-solving) and how digitalisation has been used to enhance discussions, freeing up time
  • A presentation on the digitalisation strategy at TMMF
  • A Q&A session / debriefing with senior representatives of TMMF


For more information on the host company, click on its logo.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing France (TMMF)


Lean in Europe logo

Lean in Europe visits aimed to facilitate discussions of good practice and the sharing of ideas between Lean enthusiasts. Originally started in 2013, a total of 33 visits to 34 companies were organised, with a total of 704 participants taking part in the activity.

video  For a look back at some past Lean in Europe visits see the highlights videos from the visits to SkiBeat (2023), PakMarkas (2022) or HansaMatrix (2017). Details of other past visits can be found in the Lean in Europe visit archive.

TOYOTA Motor Manufacturing France

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