Quality in Practice: Toyota Motor Corporation, Ltd. 
The Toyota brand name has earned an international reputation for quality. The roots of Toyota Motor Corporation, founded in 1937, stem from the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. Sakichi Toyoda invented a loom with an automatic stopping function; whenever a thread broke or the machine ran out of thread, it stopped automatically. This approach was built into automotive assembly lines to improve quality and productivity and led to the development of the “Toyota Production System,” which has commonly become known as lean production. A significant feature of lean production is the practice of continuous improvement by every worker, demanding the questioning of every process and testing of all assumptions. Errors and defects are viewed as learning opportunities to remove waste and improve efficiency. In 1951, Eiji Toyoda instituted a system of creative suggestions based on the motto “Good Thinking, Good Products,” which is prominently displayed in every production facility. One example is the Rakuraku seat, a comfortable work chair mounted on the tip of an arm that allows a line worker to easily get into and out of cramped car-body interiors. In 2000, more than 650,000 suggestions were submitted—almost 12 per employee—and 99 percent were adopted. At Toyota, everybody helps whenever they can. Even top and middle managers are well-known for getting their “hands dirty” by helping workers on the production line when necessary. Toyota uses games, competitions, and cultural events to promote its 3 C’s: creativity, challenge, and courage. It trains workers extensively, not only in job skills, but also in personal development that focuses on positive attitudes and a sense of responsibility. Toyota’s education system includes formal education, on-the-job training, and informal education. Toyota is implementing a direct monitoring system that supports quality. For example, its French plant is connected by a...
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