It’s happening at Toyota’s plants across Japan, reports Bloomberg News, and the idea behind it is as innovative as the move 30 years ago to replace humans with robots:
The only way to improve processes and promote more thinking about efficiency is to put people back in charge of making things. The goal is to create a more efficient car production line.
“We need to become more solid and get back to basics, to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them,” Mitsuru Kawai, a decades-long Toyota employee tapped to promote craftsmanship tells Bloomberg. “When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything.”
The notion of putting people back in charge of making things is counterintuitive because robots have become so effective at doing repetitive tasks with absolute precision. Most auto assembly plants, like many manufacturing facilities in general these days, are dominated by them. But while they are great at doing things, they can’t think. They can’t suggest or find ways of improvement. Without a human hand to guide them, machines simply aren’t capable of keeping up.