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Toyota Production System
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Listen in 16 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Taiichi Ohno

Toyota Production System

The Japanese Toyota model

Toyota Production System is the first hand account of a man who dedicated his entire working life to the continuous improvement of a production system that became an exemplary model. Taiichi Ohno guides us through to an understanding of the circumstances and his own reflections which led to the conception of key concepts such as ‘just in time’ production and ‘automation with a human touch’. A grass-roots engineer with a philosophical flair, who never stopped spending time in the machine shops, which he found was the perfect place to analyse and solve problems, always asking himself the question “Why?” five times.

Toyota Production System
Read in 13 min.
Listen in 16 min.

Taiichi Ohno and the revolution of consciousness

Taiichi Ohno was born in Manchuria in 1912 and spent 45 years of his working life in the service of the Toyoda family. He started at the company in 1932 as an employee in the textile branch and then landed a job in the automobile department in 1939. He graduated in mechanical engineering, but his real training was hands-on, in the production departments, in close contact with the workings of the machine shops. Ohno is considered the father of the Toyota production system, the man who devised a new way to interpret production as a fluid, constant and continuous process, eliminating any waste, both in terms of building unnecessary components, and of unnecessary work. To get there, Taiichi Ohno challenged old, established rules and completely revolutionised the production process, turning it on its head and reaching what he himself defined as a “revolution of consciousness”. The new industrial company had to be brave enough to let go of the mindset of storing reserves and overproduction. It became imperative to avoid any kind of waste, and produce only what was needed, when it was needed. The American mass production system was no longer adequate for the times; it produced a limited number of models in massive quantities, which no longer seemed to be a sustainable business model. The revolution that Toyota introduced was the polar opposite: achieving lower costs and producing a limited number of many different models.


The key ideas of "Toyota Production System"

Taiichi Ohno and the revolution of consciousness
The Toyota production system arose from the necessity to catch up with the American car industry within three years
The Kanban method to reduce waste and speed up processes
Just in time: producing only what is necessary, eliminating the need for storage
When a problem arises, we need to ask ‘why’ five times to reach the heart of the matter
Automation with a human touch, or getting the best from the cars by placing the responsibility in the hands of its workers
The workshop comes first: the importance of direct contact with production to ensure the processes are continuously improved
Teamwork and the strength of a good production system
During slow growth periods it is time to work on how to increase productivity
Take-home message
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