This is the first Toyota Lift Truck

that was imported into the US back in 1967. Toyota managed to buy it back from the owner (it was still being used!), clean it up, and put it on display in the lobby of Toyota Material Handling (TMH) in Columbus, Indiana. In 1990 Toyota started making lift trucks in the US, and by 2002 they had become the #1 selling lift truck company in America.

TMH is also one of the best examples of Mixed Model Manufacturing anywhere on the planet. And for the past 8 years we have partnered with TMH to host our public workshops on Mixed Model Line Design and Mixed Model Material Management. It’s been a real thrill to be able to teach our Lean specialty, and then go out and see it in action. Some of you may have had the chance to participate in these workshops.

With the start of the pandemic, the workshops came to a screeching halt. Participants were no longer traveling, and outside visitors were not allowed into the plant. The last workshop we did was in February 2020, and I remember telling the students: “Enjoy this opportunity since it may be the last one for awhile!”. That turned out to be true.

But…many other activities have gone online, and we had the hope that we could do something similar with our Toyota Mixed Model workshops. We were delighted when we learned that TMH had also been thinking about this, and doing some experimentation with live but remote factory tours. Once they had perfected the process, they contacted us to see if this would be something workable for our offerings. Of course we said yes.

Here’s what we are planning. Our normal live workshop at Toyota is a 3-day event, but doing 3 full days on Zoom would be frankly horrible. So we are going to design a training experience that budgets 3 hours a day, including the Toyota factory tours and other live interactions with the Toyota experts. That should be doable, and allow participants to also avoid travel, travel expenses, and to maintain their normal job duties.

Here’s the other big difference. We are making this event free and exclusive to the members of the Lean Design Studio. Any member higher than the month-to-month membership level will be able to attend this “VIP Event”. The Lean Design Studio is an online platform for all things related to Mixed Model Manufacturing, and a project that we’ve been working on during the Time of Covid-19. In addition to Mixed Model courses (the same material we teach at Toyota!) we have included Professional Certification tracks, Value Stream simulation modeling software and training, tools and worksheets, and a treasure trove of other advanced video content. The Studio is also an implementation platform, with our implementation roadmaps integrated with our training and coaching in the STREAM and LINKED programs.

This is the link to an information page about the Toyota event: the daily schedule, the topics, the dates, the membership options and pricing, and how to enroll: You’ll also find a link to my calendar on this page, if you would like to chat with me personally about the program.

Thanks and I hope to see you there,

Richard Rahn