Rachel Houle, Toyota’s general manager for engineering data management, conducts a 5S training workshop at the Wilson Student Team Project Center on November 6th.

Rachel Houle, Toyota’s general manager for engineering data management, conducts a 5S training workshop at the Wilson Student Team Project Center on November 6th.

“Only what is needed, only in the amount needed and only when it is needed,” stressed Jeff Ellis, Toyota Motor Corporation’s assistant manager for prototype vehicle development, during his presentation at the Wilson Student Team Project Center. “The just-in-time principle should be standard practice at your work stations.” On November 6th, Ellis and Rachel Houle, Toyota’s general manager for engineering data management, held a training workshop with student members of U-M’s Baja Racing, Concrete Canoe, Human Powered Submarine, M-Fly, MHybrid Racing, MRacing Formula SAE, Pelico, Solar Car and Supermileage teams. All housed in the College of Engineering’s Wilson Student Team Project Center, team members had the opportunity to learn about Toyota’s 5S program, a system for organizing workplaces in a clean, efficient and safe manner in order to enhance productivity and safety. “Proper 5S implementation leads to less time wasted, the ability to meet deadlines, a safer environment and the assurance that your resources and tools are always available,” said Houle. “If you create a culture and expectation as to how to keep your work areas organized, you will be much more efficient.” Pavan Naik, project manager for U-M’s Solar Car Team, is looking forward to taking that philosophy back to his team. “While we can’t carbon copy everything Toyota does now, there’s a lot that we can start implementing: ideas like creating a culture where everybody works together to keep the work area clean, regardless of how many years you’ve been on the team or which division you are on.” Accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the 20,000-square-foot, $10 million Wilson Student Team Project Center is home to 22 U-M teams. With approximately 700 students using the facility annually, sharing supplies, tools and workplace is inevitable. “After hearing from a number of students about their internship experiences with 5S practices at companies like SpaceX and Toyota, we thought hosting a 5S workshop at the Wilson Center would be a great opportunity for more of our student project teams to learn about an accepted industry process that could help them create and maintain a more efficient and safer work environment here on campus,” said Chris Gordon, director of the Wilson Student Team Project Center at the College of Engineering. “The workshop also provided a great opportunity for local Toyota engineers to engage with our students on a meaningful level, especially with their commitment to help us with implementation and some incentives along the way.” “Although we already interact quite a bit with industry partners for the design and manufacturing of our solar car, we haven’t had as many opportunities to collaborate with industry on the team culture and management side of things,” continued Naik. “More than learning the five pillars of 5S, it was more rewarding to me to learn the Toyota management philosophy through the eyes of its company’s employees. I hope to participate in future opportunities!”