Process Improvement: Using Toyota's A3 Reports


Management & Entrepreneurship

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In order to drive process improvement, Toyota uses A3 reports as a tool to identify and solve problems. A3 reports are usually written on paper size 11 inches by 17 inches and are enriched with visuals such as pictures, diagrams, and charts to improve communication. To date, the author has found no study explaining how to implement A3 reports in manufacturing operations. The purpose of this exploratory study is to show how A3 reports were implemented in a successful process improvement project in aircraft maintenance and repair operations. In doing so, he shows a systematic approach, improvement event, and the process used to implement and document A3 reports. The duration of an improvement event is generally four weeks and has four distinct phases: 1) preparation and training; 2) process mapping and current state analysis; 3) process mapping and future state analysis; and 4) implementation and ownership. Important for both practitioners and academicians, the author also discusses implications of A3 report implementation and directions for future research.