One my very first trips to Japan our tour included an interesting contrast between a visit to Yamaha musical Instruments and the motorcycle factory and museum.
It was a bit of a boyhood dream to visit Yamaha as a teenager I was desperate to own and ride a moped which at 50cc is all we were allowed to straddle, at the not so sensible age of 16.
The long and short of it all is that although my sisters boyfriend had a Yamaha, I was never allowed!
I blame this on him as he was always a bad influence.
So back to the Japan tour, we had spent the morning visiting the Yamaha Instruments factory and after a swift lunch we headed to the Motorcycle factory across town.
The tour team were greeted and furnished with a Yamaha baseball hat (which I still have today) and we were taken through a bit of a company presentation before being taken through to the main assembly hall.
The motorbikes were built from the frame up and as we walked the final assembly line we were told there were 138 assembly stations that resulted in a finished bike.
The place was immaculate, extremely well organized and as expected each station was well set up and we could see eveidence of Standard Work, Kanban, Visual management and of course 5S!
We noted the very last station was a rolling road. The operator had the task of starting the motorcycle and then road testing it on a rolling road whereby he conducted a series of tests and computers ran their diagnostics producing either a pass or fail.
Apparently they rotate this job 3-4 times per shift. I wondered if this was because riding motorcycles all day would be much of a hardship! After the completion of the tour we returned to the visitors centre and museum, and it was quite fascinating to see the history of their company and actually just how closeley they have worked with Toyota over the years.
Pictured below is the Toyota 2000Gt which was produced in the mid 60’s and a joint venture with Yamaha and Toyota.
Pictured below is my Portugese colleague, Alberto riding something red and fast…that was a lot of fun!