Toyota production system

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Toyota Production System
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Toyota Production System (TPS) is a management system which aims for reduction of waste in every process, activity and workplace. Waste reduction enables enterprise reduce quality costs and improve value for the customer. In that way the company increases its profits. It is important to state that, however economical aspects are important, they are only the result. The heart of the system is organizational culture based on kaizen - an idea of continuous improvement.

The elements of the system were developed by Kiichiro Toyoda, owner of Toyoda company (later Toyota) and his employees. One of the most important contributors was Taiichi Ohno, engineer at Toyota. The first of the methods was Jidoka - possibility to (automatically) stop the machine if anything goes wrong. It was developed in the beginning of XX century. The TPS was popularized in 80s and 90s as Total Quality Management and lean manufacturing, which has evolved into wider idea of lean management.

TPS principles

The main principle is that quality has to built in during the manufacturing process. Any repairs of defected products or their parts are waste which should be avoided.

  1. Continuous improvement of every piece of enterprise and product is the ultimate goal. Kaizen is not about reaching the excellence but about continuous searching for it.
  2. Respect for people and teamwork. The TPS was was an effect of observation of scientific management and Ford production line solutions, but it was completely altered in part related to people. Respect for people helps to increase their engagement in company development.
  3. Long-term philosophy. The managers should look far ahead, not only observe stock value.
  4. Right the first time. Elimination of waste allows to reduce costs and improve value for customer. The idea of waste elimination was moved to the next level by Toyota.
  5. Adding value for customer, but also for all stakeholders. Improving employees, suppliers and other business partners helps the company itself.

Toyota Production System tools

The 12 pillars of Lean manufacturing are:

  • Konnyaku stone - smoothing, eradication of small imperfections
  • Jidoka - allowing immediate removal of production problems
  • Hansei - self-awarenes in order to improve
  • Andon - visualisation of process and problems related to quality
  • Just in time - pull production system; reducing inventory kept during the production process
  • Poka yoke - reducing number of occasions for defects
  • Heijunka - production levelling
  • Kaizen - continuous improvement
  • Genchi genbutsu - modification of organizational culture
  • Nemawashi - change management
  • Kanban - organization of production process
  • Muda mura muri - concept of removal of waste
  • Gemba - transparency of processes and work in workplace


Author: Slawomir Wawak