Toyota uses several manufacturing techniques and processes to help ensure a proper product that is inspected at every level. By doing this they eliminate any errors or mistakes that can jeopardize the quality or the prestige of a company such as Toyota. Following are some of the tools and terms Toyota uses in the Toyota Production Systems (TPS).
Andon is a Japanese term that refers to the warning lights throughout the assembly line that display the current production status. It is a jidoka tool that calls attention to a specific problem or area when a defect occurs. This often results in the production line slowing or being stopped until the issue has been resolved. A color or lighting system is commonly used in many businesses. Whether it’s the dashboard in a car or a performance dashboard at work, a lighting structure is often used to indicate whether conditions are normal or if there is a problem that requires your attention. Most of us have likely seen this at our local department or grocery store when a cashier encounters a problem and requires assistance; here they often change the color or have the cashier stand light start blinking.
Heijunka was defined as “production levelization” by Taiichi Ohno. It is a production smoothing technique used to adapt production to the natural fluctuations of customer demands. Instead of manufacturing large batches of one model after another, the Toyota Production System assembles multiple models in short periods sharing the same platform. This results in smaller lots of finished vehicles being shipped more frequently and significantly reduces the changeover and re-tooling time required in most auto manufacturing plants. Similar to Dell’s mastery of mass customization, companies around the world are competing to reduce inventories and match capacity with demand. Dell’s direct sales and Just-in-Time inventory practices have enabled them to be a leader in computer manufacturing and sales today.
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