Toyota Using Microsoft HoloLens to Enhance their Kaizen Philosophy
The Kaizen philosophy grew in popularity following decades of Japanese corporate excellence. It meant a continual drive to quality improvement in the manufacturing and management processes. Over the decades, it has been adopted throughout the world and in the automotive industry, this manufacturing philosophy is the gold standard. It is still a core management philosophy in the country of its birth, Japan, and at the automaker, it is a defining feature of The Toyota Way.
Toyota, one of the Japanese conglomerates that is almost synonymous with the concept of kaizen is continuing to make incremental improvements to its manufacturing processes. The company has long incorporated virtual reality and augmented reality and it is extending this further by utilizing AR to boost its design and manufacturing capabilities.
The automotive giant is planning to utilize its augmented reality (AR) expertise and the Microsoft HoloLens headset and integrate these into its kaizen philosophy to boost its operational excellence in its key production and management departments.
The new initiative will see Toyota incorporate mixed reality in various key operational areas ranging from the management to the production floor. Toyota isn’t the first automaker to incorporate AR in its manufacturing processes. Some of the industry pioneers include Ford and Volvo that are already using the Microsoft HoloLens to plug-in AR expertise into the design and production work.
Some of the tasks to which this technology can be applied include the inspection of coating thickness, a task that usually requires more than two employees to accomplish where one cuts up paper and pieces and carefully places them on marked out parts of the vehicle for measurement purposes. Done manually, this process is typically quite tedious. Using augmented reality not only simplifies the task but also reduces the time and manpower that would be required to accomplish it. The productivity and efficiency dividends are obvious.
The HoloLens also enables the manufacturer to make quick on-the-spot modifications on the shop-floor without interfering with other manufacturing operations such as 3D design. With augmented reality, the technician can easily spot errors and make the changes on-the-go. This helps in maintaining the team momentum and improves productivity on the shop-floor. The incorporation of the Microsoft HoloLens into Toyota’s production line is expected to have an appreciable effect on its pace of manufacturing.
The automaker is also testing Microsoft’s Dynamic 365 Suite which brings together Microsoft’s augmented reality and virtual reality tools, the Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout. With the Layout, you can use virtual reality in designing site layouts and exploring how to fit large equipment onto location. On the other hand, you can use the Remote assist to capture a Layout design in a digital format and overlay it onto the real world view using augmented reality tools.
Used together, these AR/VR tools have introduced an immersive action-plan onto Toyota’s kaizen philosophy that allows the company to project this onto a collaborative global working environment. Toyota’s plants are situated throughout the world and a seamless AR system that cuts across board adds some dynamism to the company’s strong drive towards continuous improvement.