The Video From the Toyota Museum in Nagoya, Japan

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When I visited the Toyota Museum in Nagoya, Japan (see my previous blog posts about it), they had a display that includes a video that gives an overview of the Toyota Production System. I've seen the video a few times there. But I've never been able to show it to anybody.

Until now.

I recently found the video on YouTube (or I should thank the YouTube algorithms for finding it for me). Below the video are some highlights in transcript form.

If I remember correctly, Toyota had a new video that they were using in the museum, the last time I visited in late 2019, a video that replaced this one:


Transcript Highlights:

As part of the intro:

“This is the Toyota Production System, where manufacturers eliminate waste to provide customers with well-made products in a timely manner. At the heart of the Toyota Production System are the concepts of intelligent automation and just-in-time manufacturing.

Let's explore the history of that system, which has transformed manufacturing around the world.”

The video focuses on the one definition of TPS that can be found on the Toyota website, with TPS being framed as “jidoka” (automation with a human touch and “just in time.”

The video dives deep into those concepts… I'll share the full transcript at the bottom of the post.

After the history of those two pillars of TPS, the video talks about Toyota's entry into the U.S.:

“The Toyota Production System gained global attention after the oil crisis of 1973. Toyota recovered more quickly than other automakers from the crisis, and its production system received much of the credit for that resilience.

General Motors Corporation approached Toyota about setting up a joint venture to make small cars in the United States, and the two companies set up New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated in California in 1984. Differences in language and culture presented big challenges, but the spirit of making things well knows no borders.

People accepted the Toyota Production System and the Toyota-GM joint venture became the highest ranked automobile plant in the United States for quality. It became a symbol of successful industrial cooperation between Japan and the United States.

A book published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology held the Toyota Production System as The Machine that Changed the World.”

By the way, you can listen to my podcast with Jim Womack, one of the authors of that book, sharing his looking-back reflections on the book:


You can also check out my blog posts about the NUMMI plant that's referenced in the video.

Back to the video highlights:

“Today, the Toyota Production System has gained a worldwide following.”

That is very true.

But that's not true only because of what's featured in the video — a lot of explanation about kanban cards and weaving looms (and other production machines) that stop automatically when there's a problem

TPS has gained a huge following around the world because of the culture, the philosophy, and the management system — concepts that can be adopted and adapted in just about any setting.

Here's a blog post with Jamie Bonini's thoughts on TPS — as the President of Toyota's TSSC group:


The video does allude to leadership and change in a few ways, including a story related to Taiichi Ohno:

“Active cooperation by the people in the workplace would be essential to Ohno's system, but at first, people were reluctant to give up their old ways of doing things.”

Yes, people do tend to resist change. That's a normal and expected human tendency.

That said, we can engage people in the process of change instead of trying to merely force them to change. Cooperation is better than compliance!

The video also touches on what we could call the intersection between jidoka and kaizen — the way we engage every employee in improvements that improve the level of built-in quality:

“On assembly lines, the employees themselves have devised countless Jidoka measures to prevent defective work.”

As the video ends, it touches on the need for evolution that's build on a foundation of lasting principles:

“The Toyota Production System Continues to evolve in response to changing needs and circumstances, but the fundamental concepts are eternal, including Toyota's commitment to continuing improvement in every phase of products and operations. Those concepts underlie a lasting contribution to enhancing the quality of life for people everywhere.”


The Full Transcript:

Toyota Production System – authentic TPS overview by Toyota

Man: Consistently crafted cars roll off the assembly line in a smooth flow. They are alive with the spirit of providing people with quality products through conscientious manufacturing and continuing research and development.

This is the Toyota Production System, where manufacturers eliminate waste to provide customers with well-made products in a timely manner. At the heart of the Toyota Production System are the concepts of intelligent automation and just-in-time manufacturing.

Let's explore the history of that system, which has transformed manufacturing around the world.

Jidoka

Man: The concept of intelligent automation, called jidoka, originated in looms invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of the Toyota Group.

Man: Weaving traditionally had been a very manual kind of work. The weaver fed the horizontal yarn back and forth between the vertical yarns. Sakichi had watched his mother working at a manual loom and thought of ways to make weaving easier.

Man: He invented an original wooden handloom in 1890. His loom was easy to use, and nearly 50 percent more efficient than previous looms. The operator could move the yarn guide back and forth with one hand and feed in the horizontal yarn simultaneously.

Man: Sakichi then went to work on power looms. In 1896, he created Japan's first power loom, and he continued making one improvement after another. In 1924, Sakichi and his son, Kiichiro, achieved a historic breakthrough.

They created the world's first high-speed loom that fed in new weft the horizontal yarn reliably without interrupting work. Let's take a look at a feature of their breakthrough nonstop loom, the Model G. Traditional looms wasted material on fabric like this when one of the vertical warp yarn snapped, as often happened.

To prevent that waste, Sakichi and Kiichiro arranged thin middle floaters over the vertical yarns. A floater would slip down and stop the loom if its yarn snapped. These automatic stop innovations for preventing waste were absolutely remarkable.

Sakichi had created sophisticated sensors, and he had done that without the benefit of the electrical and optical technology we now take for granted. His innovations eliminated the need for an operator to watch over each loom continuously. One operator could oversee more than 30 looms.

The Model G captured a great deal of attention in Europe and the United States. Sakichi's advances resulted in machines that would stop automatically if problems occurred, that would not produce defective work, and did not oblige people to serve as monitors.

The middle character in the Japanese word for automation, jidoka, is “do” for movement, but Sakichi replaced that character with one that means value-added work. Note the additional element on the left side, which represents people. Sakichi's jidoka put the human element into automation.

Just in Time

The other core concept in the Toyota production system is just-in-time manufacturing. This concept originated in the ideas of Sakichi's son, Kiichiro, who led Toyota into automobile manufacturing.

Man: Along with working with his father on the Model G loom, Kiichiro helped put in place a mass production system. He established Toyota Automatic Loom Works in 1926 and introduced American assembly line methods to produce the Model G loom.

Kiichiro traveled to Europe and North America in 1929 to find licenses for his company's automatic loom technology. He was amazed at all the vehicles and roads in the United States, and he resolved to begin developing automobiles.

Man: People tried to dissuade Kiichiro. They said that Japan didn't have either the technology or the economic foundation for a viable car industry. He ignored their doubts and set up a shop in a loom factory to develop small engines. He undertook the risk of investing in expensive precision equipment.
In 1935, his team created a passenger car prototype, the Toyota Model A1. In the following year, the first Toyota passenger car went into production as the Toyota Model AA. Kiichiro incorporated his automobile operations in 1937 and began work on a vehicle plant.

He refined American mass production methods for his plant and developed the beginnings of just-in-time manufacturing. The idea was to eliminate waste by making only what was needed, only when it was needed, and only in the amount needed. Making quality cars of satisfactory performance required an all-out effort.

Kiichiro was moving to refine just-in-time manufacturing further, but the outbreak of World War II in 1941 interrupted his efforts. After the war was over, Kiichiro passed on his dream to his cousin, Eiji. He instructed Eiji to bring the company up to US standards of technology within three years.

Man: That was a daunting task. US productivity and automobile manufacturing was eight times higher than Japan's, and Toyota was short of equipment and capital. Raising productivity was a pressing issue. Eiji assigned a machine shop manager by the name of Taiichi Ohno to develop a more efficient production system.

The two men looked for ways to raise the value-added productivity of every worker. They did that by putting Sakichi's Jidoka concept to work throughout their operations. They also looked for other ways to stretch their limited resources of capital and equipment.

They did that by putting Kiichiro's just-in-time concept to work systematically. Ohno took a cue from the US supermarket. He made each process the customer for the preceding process.

Man: In traditional manufacturing, processes delivered parts to the following processes regardless of what was actually needed. Ohno devised a completely new kind of system. Processes used Kanban cards removed from parts they had consumed to withdraw parts from the preceding processes.
Kanban on the parts arrayed by processes came off when the following processes withdrew the parts. They became instructions to make additional parts. The Kanban flow ensured the processes made parts only to replace parts actually consumed by the following processes.

Active cooperation by the people in the workplace would be essential to Ohno's system, but at first, people were reluctant to give up their old ways of doing things.

Man: Ohno took the initiative. He went into the workplace and taught people how to use his system. Eiji Toyoda supported Ohno enthusiastically in putting the new production system in place.

A new production system gradually took shape on the foundation of just-in-time manufacturing and jidoka intelligent automation. As the Toyota Production System, it became a standard for manufacturing industries.

Going Global

Man: The Toyota Production System gained global attention after the oil crisis of 1973. Toyota recovered more quickly than other automakers from the crisis, and its production system received much of the credit for that resilience.

General Motors Corporation approached Toyota about setting up a joint venture to make small cars in the United States, and the two companies set up New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated in California in 1984. Differences in language and culture presented big challenges, but the spirit of making things well knows no borders.

People accepted the Toyota Production System and the Toyota-GM joint venture became the highest ranked automobile plant in the United States for quality. It became a symbol of successful industrial cooperation between Japan and the United States.

A book published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology held the Toyota Production System as “the machine that changed the world.”

The System as it Operates

Man: Today, the Toyota Production System has gained a worldwide following. Let's see how the system now operates in the world's most modern automobile plants.

The trucks that deliver parts to the plants carry a variety of items in each load. That allows each truck to travel fully loaded, which minimizes trips and thus reduces traffic congestion. Forklifts carry the parts unloaded from the delivery trucks to racks alongside the assembly lines.

On the assembly line, when the first part is used from the bonds, the operator removes the attached Kanban cards. The Kanban get picked up regularly and put in a Kanban post at each process.

The information on the Kanban collected from all processors is fed into a computer system and is then sent to the parts supplier through a network so that the right number of parts are delivered at the right time.

At the supplier, the Kanban are printed out for one corresponding truckload at a time and set into the heijunka post. Shipping personnel takes out the Kanban corresponding to one truckload of parts, collects finished parts, exchanging the Kanban and empty boxes for full boxes.

The information on which parts were collected is sent to the production line. The production line in the plant makes additional parts only to replace parts that have been withdrawn. That prevents the wasteful buildup of inventories.

When the shipping personnel have gathered a full truckload of parts, a truck carries the parts to the vehicle assembly plant according to the truck timetable. Kanban thus links Toyota plants with suppliers' plants as well as linking the processes inside the Toyota plants.

Just-in-time manufacturing minimizes inventories, eliminates waste, and maximizes productivity at all the plants that participate in the Toyota production system.

Jidoka intelligent automation also continues to play a big role in the system. On automated machining lines, numbered lamps light up to call attention immediately to any problems detected by sensors. On assembly lines, the employees themselves have devised countless Jidoka measures to prevent defective work.

Sakichi's concept continues to prevent waste. The idea is to build quality assurance into every process, and it works.

Conclusion – Foundations and Evolutions

Man: The foundation for the Toyota Production System has been established by Sakichi's jidoka intelligent automation and his son Kiichiro's just-in-time manufacturing. Taiichi Ohno and others put those concepts to work systematically with the strong support of Eiji Toyota and his passion for manufacturing.

The Toyota Production System Continues to evolve in response to changing needs and circumstances, but the fundamental concepts are eternal, including Toyota's commitment to continuing improvement in every phase of products and operations. Those concepts underlie a lasting contribution to enhancing the quality of life for people everywhere.

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