While Green Gear, the company that makes Bike Friday bicycles, uses the Toyota Production System, people used to video of modern automated automobile factories might not recognize the bicycle maker’s version of it.
One reason: none of its bending or cutting equipment is automated, at least not when I visited the Eugene, Oregon, facility a couple of years ago.
Yet Green Gear has the same goals for its system as Toyota does: to ensure quality while reducing all kinds of waste, including wasted time, motion and material.
One of the steps in building a frame is preparing
the steel tubing for assembly. Each piece for a specific bicycle frame is cut, and bent if necessary, at one of a number of work stations in the roughly circular production line and added to a multi-tiered rack that, when full, is rolled to the welding station.
Because of the system, everything the welder needs to build the newest frame will be within reach.