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Toyota Lean Manufacturing: Maximise Productivity and Efficiency

Toyota Lean Manufacturing: Maximise Productivity and Efficiency 4

Toyota lean manufacturing process has been a source of inspiration for many businesses for years. The way they strive to increase productivity and efficiency with the aim of continuously improving business and manufacturing processes in an endless cycle.

There are always ways to improve a business process and companies should be constantly striving for continuous improvement. Toyota believes there is always a better way to make a product you just need to keep looking.

History of Toyota Lean Manufacturing

Toyota as a business was incorporated on August 28th, 1937, but the official start date is November 3, 1938, when the Koromo Plant was officially completed, and they could start producing cars.

After the War and resources were low in Japan, Kiichiro Toyoda set a challenge to “catch up to America” in manufacturing.

America had already implemented the mass production model with Henry Ford manufacturing process for his Ford Model T. This first moving assembly line managed to reduce car production from 12 hours down just 1 hour and 33 minutes.

This system would not work in Japenese manufacturing as they could not afford to have masses of stock waiting around. But Kiichiro envisioned a system where essential parts would arrive “just-in-time” after observing the efficiency of supermarkets. Meaning parts should only be made and received when they were needed and only a specific amount manufactured to meet demand.

Japanese industrial engineers, Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda, rose to the task and embarked on the challenge of developing the Toyota lean manufacturing system between 1948 and 1975.

Taiichi Ohno developed the Toyota Production System (TPS) around two concepts, jidoka and the idea of just-in-time flow system to increase productivity and efficiency and focused on continuous improvement. Ohno published a book on the Toyota lean manufacturing process, “Toyota Production System: Beyond Large Scale Production.”

Toyota goal has always been to produce cars in the quickest and most efficient way, also known as “The Toyota Way.”

Toyota Lean Manufacturing Business Philosophies

Toyota lean manufacturing production system has 13 core pillars that guide them in their decisions and continuous improvement.

Workers are central to the whole process and treated as a precious resource for the business.

One of these core pillars is actually a tool rather than a philosophy. Konnyaku Stone is a tool to smooth body panels and eradicate tiny imperfections before being painted.

Toyota central business philosophy has always been to eliminate waste in pursuit of the optimal efficiency methods– what is often referred to as “lean methodology” or “just-in-time” systems.

These 12 business philosophies are key to success:

Poka-Yoke: Avoid (yokeru) Mistakes (poka) –  Fail-safe devices sole purpose is to eliminate defects in the production process. Automatically stop in the event of an error occurring.

Read more: Poka Yoke: Error Prevention Method to Stop Mistakes.

Hansei: Identify and learn from mistakes to prevent them from occurring again in the future by putting plans in place.

Andon: Stop production button to automatically halted the production line where action is required so error, mistakes so be fixed and not left. Everyone within the business can stop production is they see a problem that needs addressing. Then a solution is devised so the problem won’t happen again!

Jidoka: Automation with a human touch. If there is any problem on the production line anyone has the power to stop work and address the problem with the Andon Cord, also called the Andon Board. Everyone is encouraged to look for ways to increase efficiency from the managers to the cleaning staff. Meaning all processes are constantly being improved.

Read More: Jidoka – Injecting Human Touch into Automation

Just in Time: Parts arrive at a specific time when they are needed and just before they are installed. This keeps the factory floor free of parts and helps keep the process running smoothly.

Heijunka: The correct number of parts for the production process.

Kaizen: Everyone has a voice to identify areas for improvement and can suggest solutions empowering people and encourage continuous improvement.

Read More: Kaizen: Continuous Business Improvement

Genchi Genbutsu: The best way to solve a problem is to see the problem for yourself. All level staff members must understand the working environment and processes.

Nemawashi: Decisions should be made as a team. Business information is shared openly with all employees, to allow them to be part of the decision-making process and allow them to give their opinions.

Kanban: Signboard to convey information between processes.

Read more: Kanban: Empowering Productivity
Kanban To Do List: Trusty To-Do List – But Better

Muda, Muri, Mura: These work together to eliminate waste. 
Muda means waste.
Muri means overburden.
Mura means unevenness.

Read more: Muda, Mura and Muri: Eliminate Processes That Don’t Add Value

Gemba / Genba: All actions and processes must be as transparent as possible. Completing a Gemba walk,  walking in the steps of business processes, observing, listening to the person most involved in the process suggestions and identify ways to improve. 

Read more: Gemba: Full Facts to Make Correct Decisions

Toyota Business Strategy

Toyota proved that understanding their own weaknesses could be the key to success. 

Studying their competitors in the USA and blending what they learnt for improving productivity and production with their own strengths. They came up with better ways to improve processes.

Another key strategy is humility, being humble and understanding not just one person is important but every one offers value to the business is central to their business strategy.

Toyota has one of the best business strategies you can ever deploy

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