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Shigeo Shingo

Biography of Shigeo Shingo
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Shigeo Shingo Biography

Shigeo Shingo was a Japanese industrial engineer, recognized as one of the leaders in manufacturing practices in the Toyota production system. In addition, he is recognized as having created and formalized the Zero Quality Control, which emphasizes the application of the Poka-Yoke principle. Shingo was born on January 8, 1909, in Saga, Japan. He studied at the Higher Technical School of Engineers, in Saga, where he would read about the work done by Frederick Taylor.

In the year 1930, Shigeo Shingo graduated as an Industrial Engineer from the Yamanashi Technical College and started working at the Taipei Railway Factory. Company, he managed to observe the operations and the workers, arguing the need to improve them. He was instructed in the organization of the flow of operations in the Japan National Railways plants, as well as in Taylor’s work, and decided to make the study and practice of the scientific direction of his most important work and what is now his legacy.

By 1943, he was sent to the Amano manufacturing plant in Yokohama, under the orders of the Ministry of Munitions. Performing the job of Production Manager, he implemented the concept of flow operations to the production of the torpedo depth regulation mechanisms, in such a way that he managed to increase the productivity of the plant by 100%. During the 40s, Shigeo Shingo studied and applied the Statistical Quality Control.

“One of the premises of the Eastern model of quality is to have nothing in writing since we change things day by day” Shigeo Shingo.

In 1950, Shigeo Shingo developed the SMED (Single-Minute Exchange of Dies) technique, which emerged when he directed an efficacy improvement study for Toyo Kogyo (Mazda). The objective of the SMED was to eliminate the bottlenecks caused by the body molding presses. He managed to establish an external preparation procedure that consisted in verifying that the required bolts were ready for the next preparation, which increased the effectiveness of the presses by around 50% and the bottleneck was completely eliminated. Later, he developed the system and implemented it to Toyota’s production system, making this method the most effective for Just-in-Time production (JIT).

In 1961, he began to place simple mechanical instruments in the assembly processes, in order to prevent the pieces from being assembled incorrectly, which he called Poka-Yoke

While analyzing the processes of the Hitachi factory, a member of the research team asked him how to handle the times when the items were delayed while there were cranes available. Looking for an answer to that question, he realized that the processes and operations that were considered as distinct entities form the same network called “network of processes and operations” that later would be known as Shingo’s network.

In 1967, he provided inspection at the source and managed to make the Poka-Yoke more sophisticated, so that the utility of statistical quality control was reduced since there were no errors.

Three years later, in 1970, Shigeo Shingo was awarded the Yellow Ribbon Medal, thanks to his contributions to the flow of operations in the shipbuilding industry. A year later, he was part of an observation trip of the European machinery and other travel industry in the United States and Europe.

“Quality control goes beyond statistical control if you want to avoid mistakes” Shigeo Shingo.

On 1977, after making a visit to a Matsushita plant, he got a full month without defects in an assembly line. Shigeo Shingo concluded that the Statistical Quality Control was not necessary to achieve zero defects, but that the application of Poka-Yoke and Inspection in the Source was sufficient so that it became the support of the Zero Quality Control.

In 1978, he traveled to the United States, where he visited the Federal-Mogul company to give training on the SMED.

Shigeo Shingo said that Japanese success was due to the loyalty of employees and the excellent relationships between staff and senior management, which were related to employment for life.

Shigeo Shingo died on November 14, 1990, at the age of 81.

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