The Toyota Production System

Abstract The current research paper was meant to give an in depth look at the Toyota Production System and its effects on the automotive industry. The automotive industry in America has gone through drastic changes over the last few decades and Toyota has set the standard for the rest of the auto industry to follow.

Toyota has accomplished its goals of profitability and quality by implementing the various components of the TPS. Some of the common terms associated with the TPS are JIT, Kanban, Jidoka, Poka-Yoke, and Kaizen. Each comes from the Japanese language and has been transplanted in America as everyday terms for Toyota's employees. The effects of the TPS can be seen all through the manufacturing industry and being a Ford Motor Company employee I can see them all around me.

Introduction The manufacturing industry here in America is facing some of its toughest challenges ever. Growing health care costs, labor costs, and foreign competition are all factors of today's struggling auto industry. Foreign automakers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Hynudai are all finding success while Ford, General Motors, and DaimlerChrysler continue to decline in market share. During the good and bad times companies need to find ways to cut costs while continuing to improve on quality and productivity and Toyota is the clear cut leader.

The question that many ask is what makes Toyota so different than their competition. Before this research paper I wondered the same thing. The answer is the Toyota Production System also known as T.P.S. But in order to understand T.P.S., it's important to know how Toyota became the company known for great quality, productivity, and profitability. Toyota's History

In the late 1930's, Ford and General Motors were producing over 90% of the vehicles manufactured in Japan (WIKI). Sakichi Toyoda, founder of the Toyoda Group, and his son Kiichiro Toyoda, ventured into the automotive sector and away from their successful loom business. Kiichiro had visited Detroit for a year and had gained a strong knowledge of the Ford Production System and decided to go into the automotive business.

After World War II had ended, they were so impressed with American production methods that they wanted to apply those same methods to their automotive group. But Japan's market was much different than that of the United States. Toyota's market was small so they had to figure out a way to produce a wide variety of vehicles in a limited amount of space. This thought process is what led to what is known today as the Toyota Production System or Lean manufacturing.

Kiichiro's system of Lean manufacturing also stretched to different areas such as the sequence of assembly production, the flow of materials, and to the supplier's ability to supply only enough materials without having an excess of stock. This system later became known as the Just-In-Time (JIT) system within the Toyota Group. It is based on the "pull-system" originally used by American supermarkets and was inserted into Toyoda Group's philosophy.

Kiichiro's work was further developed by Taiichi Ohno. He is often considered the true creator of the Toyota Production System and also the "Father" of the Kanban system. Taiichi expanded upon the JIT system put in place by Kiichiro and helped to further find ways to eliminate waste and provide for better assembly processes.

The last major factor in Toyota's history is Eiji Toyoda, Sakichi's nephew. Eiji is mainly known for his contribution to what is known as Kaizen. Kaizen is and important part of the TPS and will be explained in more detail later in the paper. In 1957, he also renamed the Toyoda Group to The Toyota Company and again to Toyota Motor Corporation.

The history of Toyota shows the willingness of a family to change the ways things were done and into a way in which things are done correctly. The TPS is based on the philosophy that applies different tools and techniques into business processes. The goals are to optimize time, resources, assets, and productivity while eliminating wastes and improving quality. All of this is being accomplished not only by the top level managers but also by the workers, engineers, and everyone else in Toyota. It's a culture that is not only engrained in the attitudes of the workers but also in everyone associated with TPS. The Toyota Production System

The Toyota Production System is a continuously changing and evolving process. There are 5 main parts that make up TPS: Just-In-Time (JIT), Kanban, Poka-Yoke, Jidoka, and Kaizen. JIT, which was developed by Kiichiro Toyoda, is an inventory system based on the elimination of waste, continuous improvement, and the ability to have the right amount, in the right container, at the right time. Stock levels are synchronized so the arrivals of pasts are just in time before they run out.

Helping the process of the JIT system out is what Toyota calls Kanban. Taiichi Ohno is credited with establishing the Kanban system. Kanban is a Japanese word meaning card or ticket. Kanban is simply a process of inventory management that relies on the coordination of efforts what part, where it goes, how much, and when it's delivered.

The Poka-Yoke method is an error-proofing method used in the TPS. Basically this method provides for the correct procedure to be done in each workstation to prevent errors from happening. It works by putting limits on how the operations are sequenced and the way in which each operation is done.

Jidoka is the word for autonomation or automation with human intelligence. This term is very important in the TPS and describes the process for quality control. Sakichi Toyoda invented the concept of Jidoka in the early 20th century by using a device at his automatic looming business. This device would stop the loom from operating whenever a thread broke. In the TPS, Jidoka is used as a quality assurance method as well. If a quality problem occurs, the assembly process is halted while the concern is found and fixed.

Once this is accomplished the assembly line can start again and work can resume. This method has brought major improvements in quality and has involved each worker in the quality control process. This method of Jidoka is found in every production line and every Toyota operation and has set a benchmark for quality control standards.

One of the more well-known concepts of the TPS is what is known as Kaizen. Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement. Te Kaizen philosophy is one that assumes every aspect of our life can be improved upon. This philosophy also works in the TPS because Toyota believes every function, every movement, and every element of the workplace can be improved upon. Kaizen is part of the Toyota culture and everyone participates in it from the CEO to the workers on the assembly line.

It teaches not only to eliminate wastes but also teaches people how to do experiments using the scientific method. This continuous improvement process is done in several different group sizes from large to individually. This process has allowed Toyota to instill its philosophy into its workers and together find ways to eliminate waste. Effects of TPS

The effect that Toyota and its "lean" manufacturing philosophy have had on the manufacturing industry is astounding. Researching the processes that Toyota has implemented and the way they do things allowed me to understand where so many things in my workplace have come from.

While working at Ford for the past nine years I often wondered why we have certain aspects in our facility different than those of a traditional Ford plant. The facility I work at is a partnership between Mazda and Ford called Auto Alliance International. The effects of the TPS are seen all around our workplace and the similarities are amazing. Instead of TPS, we practice and operate under what is known as the Ford Production System (FPS).

Our inventory levels are all on a JIT system to save both room and costs and to allow for maximum efficiency for the flow of materials. Toyota has the Kanban system while at Ford we have a Smartcard system as part of the JIT system. The cards are taken out of each box of stock as it is used and placed in a refill tray. A driver comes along and picks up the cards and brings the appropriate amount needed.

The Jidoka system of quality control is used to some degree as well. This is accomplished through a system of cords each with its own color representing what it means. The yellow cord is to get the attention of a team leader or supervisor and is used only with minor issues. The blue cord is used to signal a quality problem and puts a jingle over the intercom system to inform the supervisor of a problem.

If the call is not answered in time, the line will shut down until the problem is addressed. And the red cord is for quality issues that are extremely high in importance or a safety issue. The red cord immediately shuts the line down until a team leader or supervisor addresses the issue. This system is based on the Jidoka idea of quality first.

The last major influence that can be seen is the use of Kaizen or in our case it is called a Continuous Improvement Work Group (CIWG). Just like Kaizen, CIWG is a way for work groups to solve problems of waste or improve on ideas for safety, quality, cost, delivery, morale, and environment. Groups come up with projects, submit their project, and if implemented, they are rewarded with gift cards. This system is also effective and works as long as the employees have the support of management. Conclusion

In conclusion, the Toyota Production System has affected almost every aspect of today's modern manufacturing facilities. The consistent message of quality before quantity has been engrained in the culture of Toyota ever since its founder Sakichi, first established the idea of JIT. It is easy to see after doing the research why Toyota has become one of the most successful companies in the world. If the American automakers want to learn anything from Toyota, it's to find good system that works and stick with it. References www.12manage.com/methods_kaizen www.answers.com www.bizsum.com/2page/b_TheToyotaWay.php http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_mOFWH/is_6113/ai_76445159 "Automotive Manufacturing & Production", June, 2001: Ronald M. Becker www.toyota.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Production_System