The Toyota Production System
Toyota’s approach to automobile production, with its inherent quality controls, revolutionized the industry. Its “just-in-time” supply-chain concept has become a model for manufacturers around the world, and not just for automakers.
The Toyota Production System (TPS) calls for the end product to be “pulled” through the system. This means the right parts reach the assembly line at the right place, just as they are needed, and with no excess.
This approach represented a radical departure from conventional manufacturing systems, which require large inventories in order to “push” as much product as possible through production lines, regardless of actual demand. The idea of TPS, the contrary, is to produce only the products required in the precise quantities desired at a given point in time
Focus on flexibility
By basing production on demand rather than simply on capacity, Toyota manages to keep inventories, both of parts and of finished goods, to a strict minimum. But this is only one of the more obvious advantages of Toyota’s unconventional approach. By focusing on smaller production lots and producing only what customers require when they require it, Toyota has developed a flexibility and responsiveness that continues to set the standard for the industry. With its Attention to continuous improvement (Kaizen), Toyota has attained die-changeover and machine-set times that are a fraction of its competitors'.Thus its capacity for reacting quickly to new market trends makes TPS an ideal system in today’s rapidly changing global business environment.
Just as important is ensuring quality control, and the delivery of reliable and dependable products to customers. If a problem arises at any stage of production, Toyota’s automatic error detection system, called “Jidoka”, flags the defect and enables line employees to take the necessary steps to resolve it on the spot – even if that means bringing production to a halt. By calling attention to the equipment when an error first occurs, the Toyota system makes it easier to identify the source of the problem and prevents defects from progressing to subsequent stages of production. Only a system as agile and quality-oriented as TPS could make such measures economically possible.
This approach not only helps eliminate waste, which makes TPS more respectful of the environment, it also means that customers can rest assured that Toyota products will conform to the highest standards of quality, reliability and durability.