When talking about lean, that is the truth. In May & June, I had the pleasure to coordinate tours through the Honda Alliston Plant and Toyota Cambridge Plant. What stands out to me is the detail in the care of producing and assembling a vehicle.
Both companies strive to build vehicles with the best quality, lowest cost, and shortest lead time. As you know, inventory can be seen as waste and over-producing is one of the deadly sins in lean management. Both Honda and Toyota hold only 48 hours worth of inventory! Elimination of waste is seen in other areas as well. As an example, Honda turns their cars from side to side to save time when assembling and change-overs are quickly completed due to programming ahead of time.
The tours brought to light the aid and support for the workers. Screens can be seen throughout the tour outlining what has been produced. This shows operators if lines are falling behind. As well, you can hear different chimes throughout the facilities, each sound having a different meaning. Both facilities are highly automated. The automation is there to support the employee with difficult tasks such as robotic spot welding in places an employee is unable to reach, and lift assists are used to help the worker marry the hood to the frame.
I would definitely recommend taking a tour of each of facility. If you or a team member are interested, please contact me.