Why Toyota Production System?

The word “system” is the most important element of TPS. Today we have deteriorated down to calling Lean Manufacturing, taken from the book (Womack, Jones, Roos, 1990, “The Machine That Changed The World”) to just lean. We have lost the system aspect and just implement various tools of a Lean System to a limited extent at best. For those who have not read the book published in the late 1990, the machine that changed the world was Toyota.

Executives, middle management and lean system implementers must understand what defines a lean system. One definition of a system is “a set of connecting parts forming a complex whole, a set of parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network”.

The lean system is the complex whole and the lean tools are the parts. They must be viewed as parts of a resulting lean system.

 What I learned during my career at GM and Toyota was that the driving philosophies of the Traditional and Lean System were opposite.

In Traditional and Lean Systems, what drives daily focus is achieving daily production. Their approaches differed significantly. In traditional mass production to achieve daily production the system was keep the line running, build all material necessary to run and suffix of product at any time, repair equipment after breakdown, plant wide schedule without plant wide coordination and worst of all people were just expected to do their job as described.

Toyota approached the same need by build in station process control, JIT of material and resources, Plant wide schedule coordination and utilization of every employees’ intelligence to foster continuous improvement on their jobs and area.

Good Luck On Your Lean Journey

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