UKZN Graduate School of Business and Leadership Master of Business Administration students in the Supply Chain and Operations Management module toured the Toyota South Africa Manufacturing Plant in Durban to get experience of “lean thinking philosophy and application in a real-life manufacturing plant”.
‘The tour complemented what we teach in two ways,’ said module co-ordinator, Dr Macdonald Kanyangale. ‘First, it provided insights to students on how lean thinking is applied not only in the manufacturing context, because it is key for our students to think of lean operations in different contexts where service is provided. Good managers need to be able to reduce costs while not compromising on customer satisfaction. Second, the learning tour reflects our commitment to integrate theoretical and practical understanding of concepts in the way we teach our MBA students – theory alone is not enough.’
The students got a chance to learn from Toyota’s Senior Vice-President Mr Suben Moodley who explained that the organisation was a complex manufacturing operation, making it vital for the company to pay attention to the human element of Lean Operations.
Moodley unpacked the Toyota Production System (TPS) and the Japanese philosophy critical to maximising profits while keeping production costs low. He said the TPS has been used successfully in non-automotive businesses and encouraged MBA students to apply what they had learned in their own business environments.
MBA student Ms Mandisa Ndawonde said the tour was an enlightening experience. ‘The theory was covered well and we got to experience the practicality of what we are learning in class. The information will assist me going forward, not just academically but business wise too,’ said Ndawonde.
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga
Photograph: Hazel Langa