If you want to see the future of manufacturing, follow the Tama River about 45 kilometers upstream from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to the GE Healthcare facility in Hino, Japan. Inside this outwardly conventional, low-rise suburban business complex is emerging the blueprint for the future of manufacturing, tweak by painstaking tweak.
The Industrial Internet meets Kaizen, the Japanese concept of continuous improvement, at GE Healthcare’s plant in Hino, Japan, GE’s most advanced “brilliant factory”. “What we’re doing is applying digital tools, advanced manufacturing solutions, on top of a Lean foundation,” explains Frederick Mauermann, general manager for global lean manufacturing at GE Healthcare. “That’s the recipe we’ve found that provides the greatest payback.” The approach is working. Lead times for some of Hino’s products have shrunk by up to 65 percent.