What the Toyota Motor Company can teach Broadcast MAM – Avoiding Waste
This is the first in a series of articles discussing how the Toyota Motor Company’s Lean philosophy can be applied to broadcast operations – specifically Media Asset Management (MAM) and file-based workflows. In this post we introduce the Lean philosophy and look at how the 7 areas of waste are relevant to eliminating inefficiencies for broadcast file-based systems and workflows.
To bring new insights and avoid industry blind-spots, its useful to consider operational approaches and techniques from different verticals. Here at The Bodhi Tree Group we believe this is all well and good, as long as it’s combined with a generous helping of experience and a side-order of domain knowledge.
Toyota became the envy of the manufacturing world in the 1980s and 90s with its hyper-efficient, pull-based operational model based on Lean. Even though only parts of the Lean philosophy may be applicable to the broadcast industry, organizations would do well to consider some of Toyota’s tools and techniques when implementing file-based workflows and Media Asset Management. After all, Toyota and broadcasters today have several operational objectives in common – reducing costs, improving quality, and making processes resilient enough to deal with increases and fluctuations in capacity.
What is Lean?
The Lean philosophy takes an end to end process view and sees the organization as a system. The overall aim is to create an operation with lower costs, faster processes, and motivated employees. At the heart of the Lean philosophy is the desire to simplify processes as far as possible. To do this it focuses on three areas:
- Eliminate Waste – focus on systems and processes to cut out inefficiencies and deliver value to the customer
- Involve Everyone – educating the people and changing the organizational culture to raise employee engagement, and ownership throughout the supply chain
- Continuous Improvement or kaizen (In a recent blog post, we looked at Benchmarking within broadcast operations as a technique for continuous improvement.)
As part of the Lean philosophy, Toyota adopted a Just In Time operations – the concept of only making necessary parts at the right quantity available at the right time in the process based on a pull schedule. Traditionally manufacturing relied on stores of inventory that were work in progress to act as buffers along the supply chain. Just In Time removed the ‘waste’ of inventory by only ordering parts for assembly when they were ready and the car had been bought by the consumer. With no buffers of inventory any problems at one stage in the process will be immediately apparent downstream. This means that problems like rework, operational downtime, defective deliveries, and poorly trained operators is much more visible and can be addressed by the organization more quickly.
It’s obvious how a Lean philosophy could help a high volume, low variation, batch operation such as car manufacturing, but how can it help a high volume, high variation, continuous line operation such as broadcasting?
7 Areas of Waste
Being the highly organized chaps you’d expect them to be, Toyota articulated their Lean philosophy based on 7 areas of waste and a 5-S approach for implementation (Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain). To look at how Lean could be used when implementing file-based workflow and MAM systems we will look at how the areas of waste could be applied to the broadcast world.
In a broadcast environment Toyota’s 7 Areas of Waste can be used to identify areas of potential inefficiency. Each area of waste is briefly described below together with an example of how we have seen this inefficiency manifest itself in a broadcast MAM environment:
In our experience, broadcasters may want to expand this list to include the following additional waste category:
8. For want of a Babel Fish – processing time and resources are wasted because one system in the MAM environment uses a different metadata schema, asset numbering, or file format to the other systems.
Identifying and eliminating these areas of waste help make the operations more efficient and set up an environment for continuous improvement. Although aimed at a different industrial vertical, the 7 Areas of Waste is a useful checklist for a broadcaster, whether they are implementing a MAM system for the first time or improving file-based processes.
In the next post in this series, we’ll go deeper into Lean and look at how the 5-S’s can be used to provide an approach for setting up a broadcast MAM, together with its limitations.
- Nigel Slack, Operations Management (2007)
- Iyer, Seshadri, & Vasher, Toyota Supply Chain Management: A Strategic Approach to Toyota’s Renowned System (2009)