The Toyota Production System

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The Toyota Production System
A Case Study of Creativity and Innovation in Automotive Engineering R.Balakrishnan
Automobile Manufacturing
Forty years ago, Peter Drucker dubbed it "the industries of industries." Today, automobile manufacturing is still the world's largest manufacturing activity. After First World War, Henry Ford and General Motors' Alfred Sloan moved world manufacture from centuries of craft production(led by European firms(into the age of mass production. Largely as a result, the United States soon dominated the world economy. Toyota Production System

After Second World War, Eiji Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno at the Toyota motor company in Japan pioneered the concept of Toyota Production System. The rise of Japan to its current economic pre-eminence quickly followed, as other companies and industries copied this remarkable system. Manufacturers around the world are now trying to embrace this innovative system, but they are finding the going rough. The companies that first mastered this system were all head-quartered in one country-Japan. However, many Western companies now understand Toyota Production System, and at least one is well along the path of introducing it. Superimposing this method on the existing mass-production systems causes great pain and dislocation. This essay, I believe, is an effort to explain the necessary transition from mass production to revolutionary production called Toyota production System. By focusing on the global auto industry, this essay explains in simple, concrete terms what the Toyota Production System is, where it came from , how it really works, and how it can spread to all corners of the globe for everyone's mutual benefit. The global adaptation, as it inevitably spreads beyond the auto industry, will change everything in almost every industry-choices of customers, the nature of work, the fortune of companies, and, ultimately, the fate of nations. What is Toyota Production System? Perhaps the best way to describe this innovative production system is to contrast it with craft production and mass production, the two other methods humans have devised to make things. Production methods

The craft producer uses highly skilled workers and simple but flexible tools to make exactly what the customer asks for—one item at a time. Few exotic sports cars provide current day examples. We all love the idea of craft production, but the problem with it is obvious: Goods produced by the craft method—as automobiles once were exclusively—cost too much for most of us to afford. So mass production was developed at the beginning of the twentieth century as an alternative. The mass-producer uses narrowly skilled professionals to design products made by unskilled or semiskilled workers tending expensive, single-purpose machines. These churn out standardised products in very high volume. Because the machinery costs so much and is so intolerant of disruption, the mass-producer keeps standard designs in production for as long as possible. The result: The customer gets lower costs but at the expense of variety and by means of work methods that most employees find boring and dispiriting. The Toyota motor corporation, by contrast, combines the advantages of craft and mass production, while avoiding the high cost of the former and the rigidity of the latter. Toward this end, they employ teams of multi-skilled workers at all levels of the organisation and use highly flexible and increasingly automated machines to produce volumes of products in enormous variety. The Toyota Production System is also defined as Lean Production because it uses less of everything compared with mass production—half the human effort in the factory, half the manufacturing space, half the investment in tools, half the engineering hours to develop a new product in half the time. Also it requires keeping far less than half the needed inventory on site, results in many fewer defects, and produces a greater and...
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