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Apr 2, 2010

The Toyota Production System (TPS)

The Toyota Production System is encompasses its management philosophy and practices. This system is a precursor of the lean manufacturing system. The (TPS) was developed by Taiichi Ohno, Shigeo Shingo and Eiji Toyoda between 1948 and 1975.
The main objectives of the (TPS) are to design out overburden and inconsistency and eliminate waste. A process is designed the is capable of delivering the required results smoothly by designing out inconsistencies. The process must be as flexible as necessary without stress since this generates waste. The improvements of waste reduction and elimination of inconsistencies are valuable.

Seven kinds of waste are addressed by the (TPS): over production, motion of the operator, waiting, conveyance, processing, inventory of raw material and correction such as reworking and scrap. The removal of waste has dominated the thinking of many when they look at the effects of the system, because it is the most familiar of the three objectives to implement. Many times the system is implemented to remove inconsistencies and overburdens without specially focusing on waste, but yet waste is driving out of the process due to the two other objectives.

The Toyota Production System is the most responsible for having made Toyota the company it is today. Toyota did not receive its inspiration in the concept by visiting the Ford production line, but by visiting a supermarket. A delegation from Toyota visited the United States in the 1950s and toured several Ford plants but found the methods not very effective. They found the large amounts of inventory on the site, uneven work in the factory and large amount of rework at the end of the process to be inefficient.

The group was inspired when they visited a local Piggly Wiggly supermarket and saw how the grocery store only reordered and restocked goods when they had been purchased by customers. Toyota applied this inspiration by reducing the amount of inventory to only a level that their employees would need for small amount of time, then reorder. This was the precursor of the Just In Time inventory system.

Low inventory is key, but an important element of the system is to work intelligently and eliminate waste so that inventory is no longer needed. Many American businesses set out to attack high inventory levels based on the success of the Toyota system, without understanding the underlying philosophy and led to their failure.