Today we had the opportunity to visit the largest manufacturing plant of Toyota Material Handling Company. This is a division of Toyota devoted entirely to the production of forklifts and other various material handling machines. A focus of the visit was how they have implemented the Toyota Production System (TPS). Witnessing the process on the floor was amazing. A complete forklift comes off the assembly time every 4 minutes 15 seconds. This pace is called the "Tact Time". While having a tact time for an assembly line may not seem surprising, Toyota has a tact time for every aspect of the company. The QC and shipping department has the same 4:15 timeframe.
Beyond production, even the delivery trucks have a tact time to make sure they are unloading supplies at the correct pace. When they arrive, the trigger a green light indicating they are unloading. If they run behind schedule, the light will turn yellow. If they fall far behind or run late, the light turns red. It was an amazing system.
By having all of these tact times and incredible production systems, they only have about 1 day worth of parts in inventory. There is literally no warehouse to speak of.