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Shojinka is a form of flexible manufacturing, where the number of workers vary to match demand requirements. This is obviously superior to a static system that staffs work areas without consideration to fluctuations in production requirements. Being able to reassign people to exactly where they are needed will help keep production areas of falling behind. This form of flexible staffing also releases people to work on improvement projects when demand is low across the board.

The primary reason this is not done frequently is that it takes a tremendous amount of work both in preparation and in management.

Requirements of Shojinka

  1. Workers must be highly cross-trained to be able to move as demand fluctuates.
  2. Managers must have a clear understanding of demand.
  3. The team must have playbooks to know where they go at various levels of production.
  4. The system must be designed to operate in various worker configurations.
  5. Processes must be highly standardized so the output is the same regardless of who is doing the work.

Note that the use of Japanese terms can be offputting to some employees. Alternative terms include flexible manufacturing and playbooks (as previously mentioned) and flexible staffing. There is also a component of shojinka in daily management. 

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