April Event Countdown:


Intro to the Material Flow Workshop

Mixed Model Material Flow Workshop

Hosted at Toyota Material Handling on April 30-May 2, 2024 and November 12-14, 2024.

The next 2024 Mixed Model Material Flow workshop will be delivered on April 30-May 2 at Toyota Material Handling. The final Material Flow workshop will take place on November 12-14. This is the one of the best places in the world to learn about this essential subject. Click on the links below for registration and price or scroll down for more information!

What You Will Learn at This Workshop

Material Flow is the largest pain point in most factories. To make matters worse, materials also consume the vast majority of product cost — sometimes upwards of 80%. And yet, Material Flow is regularly the single most overlooked aspect on the factory floor. We cannot stress this enough:

No matter how much time, money, and effort you put into implementing Lean practices, if your Material Flow is broken, your production line will NOT perform to expectations.

By the conclusion of this workshop, you will be able to design a material delivery system that supports the management of a large number of different products, options, and items, with high efficiency and quality. We would go so far as to claim that your material delivery system, following our methodology, will essentially shortage-proof your production lines.

The tools of Mixed Model Material Flow can handle inevitable changes in mix and volume, without delaying or stopping the line. And they can do so efficiently, without overstaffing or wasteful material delivery activity.


"Excellent! This is an excellent class that needs cross-functioned group participation (Ops, ME, Material Flow, Supply Management, Supervisors). Excellent instructor!"
John Deere

Richard and Gerard are both great teachers. It is clear how well they understand the material and Lean Manufacturing in general. The tours were also a big plus as we could see concrete examples of the discussed material handling strategies.


Loop Supply Systems

Excellent! The content, the venue and the experience were amazing. Thank you so much for a wonderful experience.


Baptist Health

"I really found the workshop relevant to the work I do for my company. The sharing of ideas between companies through exercises was invaluable to my efforts."



"Very good information on Kanban and PFEP!! Anyone that works in materials, even if it isn't management, could benefit from this course."



About Toyota Material Handling

This workshop includes factory tours of Toyota Material Handling (TMH), the #1 manufacturer of fork trucks in North America and winner of Assembly Magazine’s Plant of the Year Award. Here’s what Assembly Magazine had to say about Toyota Material Handling.

Toyota has long been regarded as the gold standard for Lean manufacturing. TMH, located in Columbus, Indiana, is an especially valuable example of Mixed Model Manufacturing since the number of base models and level of customization far exceeds what is seen in the automotive sector. The two factory tours included in this workshop will dramatically support what you will learn in the classroom, and confirm the power and flexibility of Lean Mixed Model Design. 

Toyota experts will also spend time during the workshop to answer any Toyota-specific questions that may come up during the tours or in the classroom.

Workshop Schedule

Day 1

For most manufacturing companies, the opportunities for material management improvements are large. The workshop starts with an overview of this important topic.

In this lesson you will develop a deep understanding of the optimum material delivery workflow and strategy.

You probably have most of the material-related information that you will need, but can you see everything about a part in one place? Probably not. PFEP is a data analysis tool that you will want to create up-front, which will yield surprising benefits.

Your job as the designer of a material delivery system is to know which tool to use. Kanban is the Japanese work for “card” or more generally “signal”, and this technique is at the heart of a Material Flow Pull System.

Kanban means “signal”, and this signal can take various forms. As a material flow designer, you will need to know which signaling method to choose for an individual item. This information will be stored in your PFEP database.

One of the goals of Lean Material Flow is to balance material coverage (no shortages) with high inventory turns. In this lesson you will calculate optimum inventory levels for a variety of different items, using data and simple formulas. This information is stored in your PFEP database.

Day 2

Start the day with a formal presentation about the Toyota Production System, and a tour of one of North America’s best factories. The focus will be on the design and functioning of the material delivery system, with over 50 base models and thousands of possible options.

Material presentation is a integral part of optimum workstation design. In this lesson you will review basic objectives and examples, as well as look at some provocative new ways to deliver and present materials to an operator.

The Material Flow designer will choose from a variety of Material Conveyance methods, from hand delivery to Automated Guidance Vehicles (AGVs).

The philosophy of “frequent trips and light loads” will be accomplished through the design of your delivery routes. The establishment of Standard Work for material delivery is also applied in this step.

A formal containerization policy and strategy often does not get the attention and focus that it deserves. Every item in your PFEP database is associated with an optimal containerization plan.

Day 3

Return to the factory flow to view some of the unique aspects of this high-performing material delivery system: supermarkets, management of overseas shipments, and the functioning of the Kanban card system.

Material Flow designers use a “roadmap” or checklist, for consistency and completeness. In this lesson you will learn the 10 Key Design Principles.

In the 21st Century many manufacturers are “high mix low volume”, with many different but similar products that must be produced on the same line. The challenges to optimal material delivery in this environment are many, and solutions are covered in this important lesson.

The material delivery system needs continuous vigilance and management. In this important lesson we will review the methods and practices needed to ensure that your system is on a path of continual improvement.

In this final lesson we will return to the Lean Material Management roadmap, and offer some final suggestions for productive next steps.

Benefits of Mixed Model Material Flow

Reduce Shortages Dramatically

A variety of practices are needed to reduce parts shortages, including shortening your supply chain, material pull systems, a detailed Plan For Every Part. No magic!

Free Up Working Capital

Running out a cash is a common risk, and reducing the amount of inventory required to support a given level of production is the easiest way to liberate cold hard cash.

Integrate Outside Suppliers

Lower inventory levels and freed-up Working Capital won't be achieved until your outside suppliers are tightly integrated with your internal usage.

Overcome Mixed Model Challenges

There is no doubt that managing material supply chains and delivery for a highly mixed environment is harder. It can be done efficiently, however, and give you a further competitive advantage.

Reduce Factory Floor Space

Space needed for parts storage and presentation can be the #1 user of expensive factory floor space. The goal is to reduce this without running out.

Standardize Material Delivery

The process of physically delivering parts to the Points of Use should run like clockwork, and often. Be careful of false savings related to long replenishment cycles!

Who Should Participate?

This workshop has been designed for anyone responsible for designing, implementing, or managing the material delivery system or supply chain for a Mixed Model production line based on Lean principles.

We also recommend this workshop for your Process Design team, including manufacturing and industrial engineers. The line design needs to support optimum material delivery as well.

  • Material Managers
  • Material Delivery Specialists
  • Manufacturing Engineers
  • Supply-Chain Professionals
  • Manufacturing Engineers
  • Operations Managers

Related Workshops

Mixed Model Line Design

Take the leap beyond 5S, Value Stream Mapping and SMED to where the real process improvements take place: Lean Process Design.

Participants in the Mixed Model Line Design Workshop hosted at Toyota will also receive a 1-year membership in the Lean Design Studio, a $500 value. Your membership is a powerful way to sustain and expand the skills developed during this event. Here is what is included in the Studio: