Problem-Free Engineering

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Tomoo Sugiyama , Director at Yamaha Motor company defined a new approach to improvement activity. He called it Problem-free Engineering.

Sociological research proves that any idea can be popularized by  presenting it in the form of  a buzz word. Sugiyama called is '' Problem-Free Engineering'' .  Toyota Production System uses such words like Just-in-time, Kanban etc.

There are three basic problems at the workplace:  Waste, Inconsistency and Irrationality.  Problem-free Engineering strives to improve the workplace by reducing waste, inconsistency and irrationality to zero . The basic elements of problem-free engineering can be expressed by completing the buzz word '' __________-free Engineering'' with any form of waste , inconsistency and irrationality.

Walk - Free Engineering means eliminating excessive walking

Conveyor -free Engineering means eliminating excessive use of conveyors

Bottleneck-free Engineering means eliminating bottlenecks

Problem is typically defined as the any variation between the actual situation and the established standards or desired standards.

Some examples of Problem Free-Engineering are


  • Look-free (eliminate excessive looking)
  • Search- free
  • Walk- free
  • Stacking- free
  • Wasted motion - free
  • Unused creativity - free


  • Air- free
  • Conveyor - free
  • Air cut - free
  • Air press - free
  • Oil pan - free
  • Corner - free
  • Dust - free
  • Toolbox - free
  • Energy - free


  • Bottleneck - free
  • Hunger- free
  • Inventory - free
  • Changeover - free

Material / Parts

  • Bolt- free
  • Burr- free
  • Weight - free
  • Spot weld - free
  • Parts - free
  • Welding - free


  • Defect - free
  • Nonstandard - free

The foundation of workplace improvement is laid by first detecting the problem and recording the problem. They are recorded in the form of big 3 memo. Eg: You might find on the floor an operator walking longer distance to pick up a part which is a waste of time. This problem of excessive walking is recorded in a memo .Plenty of thought is then applied to eliminate these problems (eg walking ) by analyzing the root cause and suggesting actions that prevent recurrence of deviations from desired or established standards.

Problem-free Engineering and problem solving usually go hand-in-hand. Various tools like 5 Whys , Industrial Engineering techniques and Quality circles are used to reduce or eliminate problems.

Winning can be a matter of luck, but losing is not.... The root cause of problems is not due to accident or luck. There is always a possibility of identifying a root cause and creating a room for improvement.





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