The Toyota Production System (TPS) is the archetype of lean manufacturing. Lean is often used as a synonym for the Toyota Production System, and that is generally quite accurate. It is also sometimes referred to as the “Westernized” version of the Toyota Production System. However, there are some smaller differences in the underlying approach, as well as some larger and often unintentional differences in its application. Let’s have a look!
Any posts related to companies from the Toyota Group, including Toyota Motor, Denso, etc., and its people.
On the Team Structure at Toyota
Toyota is (among other things) famous for its team structure on the front line. They have a quite low ratio of team members to supervisors, and I believe that is part of their success. Whereas many Western companies overstuff their hierarchy, at Toyota supervisors actually have the time to help their people and to also improve the operations. Let me dig deeper into that. This blog post was inspired by the new book by Baudin and Netland, Introduction to Manufacturing.
Akio Toyoda Steps Down as Toyota CEO
Somewhat surprising to industry insiders, the CEO of Toyota Motor, Akio Toyoda, announced on January 26 his resignation, and he will step down as CEO on April 1, 2023, to become the chairman of the board. Hence, I will have a look at his impact on Toyota. However, just to be warned, if you expect glowing praise, you should look elsewhere. I believe he changed Toyota, a company I love, in a worrisome way. I am definitely not a fan of his work. Granted, being a CEO is not easy, and he did have to lead Toyota through a couple of crises (Recall,s Corona, etc.). Compared to other CEO’s, he is probably somewhere around average. But I believe he had a negative influence on the Toyota corporate culture.
Toyota’s New Type of Flexible Assembly Lines—Takaoka Line #2
Flexible assembly lines are well known at Toyota – except that there are two types of “flexible assembly lines.” The well-known one is making multiple different models on the same line. But Toyota has developed a new type of flexible assembly line, where the entire layout of the assembly line can be changed quickly and easily. Confusingly, this is also called a flexible assembly line, although Toyota itself does not even have a name for it (different from the West, Toyota focuses more on doing something, while the West often puts the most effort into a catchy name). Their pilot line is in the Takaoka plant. Let me show you.
Toyota’s Master Craftsmen: Takumi
You may have heard of Takumi at Toyota. Takumi in general are highly skilled artisans that excel in their craft. Despite Toyota mass-producing cars using lots of machines, they also employ hundreds of Takumi. This blog post takes a deeper look at what a Takumi is, and why they are so important for Toyota and other Japanese companies.
Evolution of Process Placement at Toyota – Part 2
Toyota did not start out as a lean company, but evolved over time. This was also not an automatic process. It needed a lot of care and attention, as well as continuous improvement and PDCA. This is the second post of this short, two-post series on the path of Toyota from a messy and hard-to-manage job shop to a much more efficient flow shop.
Evolution of Process Placement at Toyota – Part 1
When setting up a new production – or even when rearranging an existing production – one important decision is how to arrange your processes. I have written a lot on line layout, but this post will look at how the arrangement of lines evolved at Toyota. Some of their insights are now accepted wisdoms in lean, but many companies still struggle with it. This post also looks into the manning of machines, especially multi-machine handling. The blog post is based on the appendix in the Toyota Handbook from 1973.
How to Do a Lean Transformation – The Toyota Approach
Companies continuously need to improve to survive. Lean can help them with this continuous improvement, so many companies aspire to become lean. The question is, how do you do that? How do you do a lean transformation, or more generally a change management? In this post I would like to talk about what is needed for a company to start their journey to lean. Be warned, it is not easy, and it does require a lot of support from the very top.