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The Toyota Production System

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The Toyota Production System


The current research paper was meant to give an in depth look at the Toyota Production System and its effects on the automotive industry. The automotive industry in America has gone through drastic changes over the last few decades and Toyota has set the standard for the rest of the auto industry to follow. Toyota has accomplished its goals of profitability and quality by implementing the various components of the TPS. Some of the common terms associated with the TPS are JIT, Kanban, Jidoka, Poka-Yoke, and Kaizen. Each comes from the Japanese language and has been transplanted in America as everyday terms for Toyota's employees. The effects of the TPS can be seen all through the manufacturing industry and being a Ford Motor Company employee I can see them all around me.


The manufacturing industry here in America is facing some of its toughest challenges ever. Growing health care costs, labor costs, and foreign competition are all factors of today's struggling auto industry. Foreign automakers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Hynudai are all finding success while Ford, General Motors, and DaimlerChrysler continue to decline in market share. During the good and bad times companies need to find ways to cut costs while continuing to improve on quality and productivity and Toyota is the clear cut leader.

The question that many ask is what makes Toyota so different than their competition. Before this research paper I wondered the same thing. The answer is the Toyota Production System also known as T.P.S. But in order to understand T.P.S., it's important to know how Toyota became the company known for great quality, productivity, and profitability.

Toyota's History

In the late 1930's, Ford and General Motors were producing over 90% of the vehicles manufactured in Japan (WIKI). Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the Toyoda Group, and his son Kiichiro Toyoda, ventured into the automotive sector and away from their successful loom business. Kiichiro had visited Detroit for a year and had gained a strong knowledge of the Ford Production System and decided to go into the automotive business.

After World War II had ended, they were so impressed with American production methods that they wanted to apply those same methods to their automotive group. But Japan's market was much different than that of the United States. Toyota's market was small so they had to figure out a way to produce a wide variety of vehicles in a limited amount of space. This thought process is what led to what is known today as the Toyota Production System or Lean manufacturing.

Kiichiro's system of Lean manufacturing also stretched to different areas such as the sequence of assembly production, the flow of materials, and to the supplier's ability to supply only enough materials without having an excess of stock. This system later became known as the Just-In-Time (JIT) system within the Toyota Group. It is based on the "pull-system" originally used by American supermarkets and was inserted into Toyoda Group's philosophy.

Kiichiro's work was further developed by Taiichi Ohno. He is often considered the true creator of the Toyota Production System and also the "Father" of the Kanban system. Taiichi expanded upon the JIT system put in place by Kiichiro and helped to further find ways to eliminate waste and provide for better assembly processes.

The last major factor in Toyota's history is Eiji Toyoda, Sakichi's nephew. Eiji is mainly known for his contribution to what is known as Kaizen. Kaizen is and important part of the TPS and will be explained in more detail later in the paper. In 1957, he also renamed the Toyoda Group to The Toyota Company and again to Toyota Motor Corporation.

The history of Toyota shows the willingness of a family to change the ways things were done and into a way in which things are done correctly. The TPS is based on the philosophy that applies different tools and techniques into business processes. The goals are to optimize time, resources, assets, and productivity while eliminating wastes and improving quality. All of this is being accomplished not only by the top level managers but also by the workers, engineers, and everyone else in Toyota. It's a culture that is not only engrained in the attitudes of the workers but also in everyone associated with TPS.

The Toyota Production System

The Toyota Production System is a continuously changing and evolving process. There are 5 main parts that make up TPS: Just-In-Time (JIT), Kanban, Poka-Yoke, Jidoka, and Kaizen.

JIT, which was developed by Kiichiro Toyoda, is an inventory system based on the elimination

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