Category Archives: Toyota

Any posts related to companies from the Toyota Group, including Toyota Motor, Denso, etc., and its people.

Fundamentals of Karakuri Kaizen

Karakuri is the art of creating machines without an external power source. After an introduction to the topic in my last post, I would like to show you some fundamental techniques for karakuri.

I would like to pay particular attention to power management: Where do these machines get their power from, how do they store it, and where does it go? I will also (very !) briefly talk about kinematics, and even some karakuri ideas that go beyond kinematics. My next post will have lots of examples, mostly from the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya.

Continue reading Fundamentals of Karakuri Kaizen

Introduction to Karakuri Kaizen

Karakuri NingyoRecently I visited the Karakuri Kaizen Exhibition 2017 in Nagoya. This was a very impressive exhibit, and I learned a lot about karakuri from the many different examples shown there by over one hundred exhibitors. Organized annually by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance, it is to my knowledge the biggest showcase of karakuri in the world. This was an exciting visit that I will process in a whole series of blog posts on karakuri (Fundamentals and Examples)

Karakuri is the use of mechanic gadgetry rather than electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic devices. Definitely no computers! Within lean, it stands for mechanical gadgets that improve your system. Time to look closer at what I learned from this karakuri exhibition. Continue reading Introduction to Karakuri Kaizen

150th Anniversary of the Birth of Sakichi Toyoda

Sakichi Toyoda
Sakichi Toyoda

Exactly 150 years ago, on February 14, 1867, Sakichi Toyoda (豊田 佐吉 Toyoda Sakichi)  was born. He is known in Japan as the King of Inventors (which is probably a bit of an exaggeration), father of the Japanese Industrial Revolution, and also the founder of the Toyota industrial empire. Time to take a look back in history on his life. Continue reading 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Sakichi Toyoda

Toyota’s and Denso’s Relentless Quest for Lot Size One

Relay Race Hand Over
Just when you need it …

A famous step toward perfection in a lean production system is a lot size of one. However, few people realize what enormous effort and rigor Toyota applies to achieve this goal. During my visit to a Toyota plant and the APMS conference in Tokyo in 2015, I saw quite a few stunning examples of this quest. Let me show you … Continue reading Toyota’s and Denso’s Relentless Quest for Lot Size One

The History of Manufacturing – Part 4: Toyota and Lean

Toyota LogoMost of our prosperity and wealth is based on our ability to manufacture faster, better, and cheaper than ever before.To announce the publication of my first book Faster, Better, Cheaper” in the History of Manufacturing: From the Stone Age to Lean Manufacturing and Beyond here is the fourth and last  post of a series with a brief version of the History of Manufacturing. In this post I would like to talk about Toyota and its Toyota Production System, the archetype of lean Production, and also about computers and automation. Continue reading The History of Manufacturing – Part 4: Toyota and Lean

On the Benefits of a Pencil in Lean

Pen vs Pencil
Pen or pencil?

In many lean books and other writing, it is often recommended to use a pencil for certain tasks as, for example, the A3 report. Yet, I have seen very few uses of pencil in lean manufacturing in the Western world. Most of the documents are computer printouts based on Excel, PowerPoint, or Word. The few handwritten documents are usually done in pen (see also my post on The Advantage of Handwritten Data on the Shop Floor).

In this post I will look into why almost nobody uses pencils and why it would be good to use more pencils. I myself am also guilty of that, but I plan indeed to use more pencil in the future. Continue reading On the Benefits of a Pencil in Lean

Taiichi Ohno’s Chalk Circle

Chalk CircleOne of the famous teaching methods by Taiichi Ohno is the chalk circle. The method itself is simple. A circle is drawn on the shop floor near a point of interest. A disciple is put in the circle and told not to leave it until he is picked up again by the teacher.

In this post I will explain a bit about the chalk circle, how to use it for teaching, and how to use it for yourself. Continue reading Taiichi Ohno’s Chalk Circle

American Automotive Market Strategy of Toyota and Others

Major Car MakersThe largest ten car makers sell over 200 different car models on the US market. Without vans, SUVs, and sport cars, there are still 100 consumer cars left. Toyota has the largest number with a total of 14 models, yet they still have an excellent market strategy and very little self cannibalization. BMW has much fewer models, yet still manages to cannibalize itself. GM has 13 models and also steps on its own toes, while completely missing another market segment. This post is based on a master’s thesis of one of my students, Amir Javanshir, and the detailed source is at the end of the article. Continue reading American Automotive Market Strategy of Toyota and Others