The Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production


There is nothing very complex in the magic of Mr. Ohno's teachings. In fact, it is often confusing listening to him because he talks so simply, often just saying to look for and eliminate waste. We cannot believe that it is that simple - but it is true. Just reduce the time line by removing any wastes...Manufacturing must be both efficient and also have respect for the person running the machine. The world owes a great deal to Mr. Ohno. He has shown us how to manufacture more efficiently, reduce costs, produce greater quality, and also take an important look at how we as people work in a factory

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Key Takeaways

  1. Overview
    1. All we are doing is looking at the timeline, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing that time line by removing the non-value-added wastes. Simple, but brilliant
    2. The basis of the TPS is the absolute elimination of waste. The two pillars to support the system are Just in Time and Autonomation, or automation with a human touch. The tool used to operate the system is kanban
  2. Just in Time
    1. JIT means that, in a flow process, the right parts needed in assembly reach the assembly line at the time they are needed and only in the amount needed. A company establishing this flow throughout can approach zero inventory. From the standpoint of production management, this is an ideal state. However, with a product made of thousands of parts, like the automobile, the number of processes involved is enormous. Obviously, it is extremely difficult to apply JIT to the production plan of every process in an orderly way. 
    2. JIT is much more than an inventory reduction system. It is much more than reducing changeover times. It is much more than using kanban or jidoka. It is much more than modernizing the factory. It is, in a sense, making a factory operate for the company just like the human body operates for an individual. The autonomic nervous system responds even when we are asleep. The human body functions in good health when it is properly cared for, fed and watered correctly, exercised frequently, and treated with respect. It is only when a problem arises that we become conscious of our bodies. Then we respond by making corrections. The same thing happens in a factory. We should have a system in a factor that automatically responds when problems occur
    3. Kanban = sign board to communicate what and how much is needed
      1. Pickup information, transfer information, production information 
      2. The first rule of kanban is that later processes goes to the earlier process to pickup products
      3. Constant flow and leveling production, in according with standard work methods, is necessary for kanban to work well
  3. Autonomation
    1. Autonomation changes the meaning of management as well. An operator is not needed while the machine is working normally. Only when the machine stops because of an abnormal situation does it get human attention. As a result, one worker can attend several machines, making it possible to reduce the number of operators and increase production efficiency...Stopping the machine when there is trouble forces awareness on everyone. When the problem is clearly understood, improvement is possible. Expanding this thought, we establish a rule that even in a manually operated production line, the workers themselves should push the stop button to halt production if any abnormality appears - one operator, many machines in different processes
  4. Push and Pull
    1. In the pull method, the final process withdraws the required quantities from the preceding process at a certain time, and this procedure is repeated in reverse order up through all the earlier processes. Each method has merits and shortcomings. Choosing one or the other and applying it effectively depends on the philosophy and practical creativity of managers and supervisors 
  5. Other
    1. He would not allow anything to be recorded about his system for some time, for fear that it would crystallize it
      1. Organic, always evolving and iterating
    2. Asking "why?" five times helps get to the root of the problem
      1. 5 why's
    3. Present capacity = work + waste
      1. Waste of overproduction, waiting, transportation, processing itself, inventory, movement, defective products
    4. The plant is the manufacturing's source of major information. It provides the most direct, current, and stimulating information about management. A proper work procedure therefore cannot be written from a desk. It must be tried and revised many times in the production plant. 
      1. Touching the medium
    5. The standard work sheet includes cycle time (operating hours / quantity required per day), work sequence, and standard inventory
    6. In business, excess information must be suppressed. Toyota suppresses it by letting the products being produced carry the information 
    7. Understanding is my favorite word. I believe it has a specific meaning - to approach an objective positively and comprehend its nature
    8. Manpower reduction means raising the ratio of value-added work. The ideal is to have 100% value-added work. This has been my greatest concern while developing the TPS - eliminate overproduction and establish control measures
    9. Speed is meaningless without continuity - duration is the name of the game
    10. Management should not be done by arithmetic, but by ninjutsu, the art of invisibility
    11. I have said before that I calmly accept the words "slow growth."
    12. People called the auto venture reckless. We were warned how difficult it was to operate an automobile business. However, we had known this for several years and had worked hard to prepare ourselves...So, for three years we managed the business under the guise of a hobby. - Toyoda Kiichiro 
      1. Toys & Hobbies
    13. Rapid changeovers are a necessity for the TPS. Teaching workers to reduce lot sizes and setup times took repeated on the job training
    14. Standard should not be forced down from above, but rather set by production workers themselves
    15. I have always tried to view things upside down. Reading ford, I was encouraged by the way he repeatedly came up with brilliant inverse conceptions
      1. Inversion 
    16. He would not read catalogues or books. He would not borrow from newspapers or magazines. He never asked for information or borrowed from others to help in an invention. He never studied mathematics or physics. His thinking and inventing were accomplished completely by himself. No mathematics teacher or mechanical expert could find fault with his inventions. His logic fit all scientific principles. Because his inventions sprang directly from actual practice, they did not always follow scientific principles. In application, however, his inventions produced better results. He put his ideas into actions, not words. He didn't use consultants or assistants. He was independent and alone. He did not have a special research lab or any reference materials at his side. The living room in his home was his laboratory and office. He had no visitors and he wouldn't call on anyone. From morning till night, he would sit in the room, looking up at the ceiling and down at the surface of the mattress, pondering things quietly. In this way, he generated over 100 patents. - On Toyoda Sakichi

What I got out of it

  1. Simple, but not easy. Some great frameworks to think through how and why a production process should be set up. systems thinking in action...

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