Toyota Production System

Building People Then Building Products


The Toyota Production System (TPS) is the philosophy which has enabled Toyota to become and remain the largest and consistently most profitable car manufacturer in the world.

Whereas General Motors went bust in the financial crisis of 2009, Toyota took losses but remained solvent.

The TPS is the environment from which lean manufacturing techniques and lean manufacturing principles emerged and it was the creation of the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda, his son Kiichiro Toyoda, and the engineer Taiichi Ohno.

The inspiration for TPS came not from the US automative industry (whose high stock and wasteful processes appalled the Toyota team who investigated them) but from the embrionic "just in time" processes they observed in a US supermarket.




Building People Then Building Products


The Toyota Production System is so much more than the tools, processes and techniques that it employes.

The heart of it is a culture that mentors and supports all employees to think through and "resolve root causes to problems, to help society, and to humanize work".

How different is this to the prevalent and very current western management approach of "command control" in corporate life which fundamentally despises its workers and treats them as "cannon fodder" in senior management's ever diminishing attempts to extract greater profit from more work with less reward...?

toyota production system,lean manufacturing techniques,lean manufacturing principles,

"When I first began learning about TPS, I was enamored of the power of [one-piece flow, kanban, and other lean tools].

But along the way, experienced leaders within Toyota kept telling me that these tools and techniques were not the key to TPS. Rather the power behind TPS is a company’s management commitment to continuously invest in its people and promote a culture of continuous improvement.

I nodded like I knew what they were talking about, and continued to study how to calculate kanban quantities and set up one-piece flow cells.

After studying for almost 20 years and observing the struggles [other] companies have had applying lean, what these Toyota teachers told me is finally sinking in.

Wakamatsu and Kondo, Toyota experts, put it succinctly:'The essence of [the Toyota system] is that each individual employee is given the opportunity to find problems in his own way of working, to solve them and to make improvements'."

Source: LEAN PRIMER by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde - PDF

I commend this excellent report to you.




An Executive Summary Of The Culture Behind TPS


"Since Toyota’s founding we have adhered to the core principle of contributing to society through the practice of manufacturing high-quality products and services.

Our business practices and activities based on this core principle created values, beliefs and business methods that over the years have become a source of competitive advantage.

These are the managerial values and business methods that are known collectively as the Toyota Way."

Fujio Cho, President Toyota

The 14 Principles Of The Toyota Way - PDF




Lean Manufacturing Training


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"The Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) is a not-for-profit corporation, established by and affiliated with Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA).

TSSC provides an array of services to project companies with the overarching theme of retaining a company’s workforce by improving processes to better compete in a global market.

More than 160 companies – including some of North America’s most successful enterprises – have used TSSC’s leadership and training over the years. Our 14-person team is comprised of team members from Toyota manufacturing affiliates in North America and from TEMA headquarters in Erlanger, KY."

We are a resource for any company interested in adopting TPS as a way to strengthen the quality and efficiency of their production system."

I commend this lean manufacturing training resource to you:

Toyota Production System Support Centre




Additional Resources on Lean Manufacturing


Lean Manufacturing Tools

Return to "What Is Lean Manufacturing?"




Further Resources


Overview of Six Sigma

Steps In Six Sigma Methodology

What Is Lean Six Sigma?

Six Sigma Certification

Six Sigma Case Study

Business Process Mapping

Total Quality Control







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