Production Engineering



The Japanese auto industry entered the stage of substantial domestic production between 1935 and 1940, after leaving behind its earlier focus on production copying European and American automobile technology.
The productivity of the manufacturing processes at Koromo Plant, built in 1938 (and capable of continuous-process manufacturing from raw blank processing through to total assembly) was still low, because the use of general-purpose machines meant that one skilled worker was necessary for one machine.
Then, increased automobile demand starting in 1955 led to the modernization of equipment, and the promotion of an effort to make equipment specialized and automated, with the aim of achieving mass production and cost reduction.

After 1970, activities related to saving resources, saving energy and improving the work environment were begun in response to the oil shocks and emission regulations. Furthermore, the need for timely production of various products and for a flexibility that allowed the easy handling of vehicle redesigns was brought on as customer demand diversified. This led to the promotion of an effort to make equipment general-purpose and flexible.

Starting in 1985, consistent efforts were made toward jidoka (automation with a human touch) and the use of robots, with the aim of achieving further mass production and manpower savings. Also carried out were efforts toward developing innovative equipment and dies (so-called "Simple and Slim" activities), so that equipment would become general-purpose and flexible, as well as net-shape and aluminization efforts, aimed at increasing precision and reducing weight.

In the process, the construction of additional overseas plants, along with a focus on "self-reliance in production engineering" formed the response that helped achieve global expansion. At the same time, ergonomics, saving energy and recycling were actively promoted, as was process innovation, based on rapidly advancing digital technology.

Even in the area of production engineering development in new-business domains that contribute to society's future, successful have been the achievement of such innovations as hybrid vehicles, fuel-cell-powered vehicles, lithium ion batteries and Toyota Partner Robots. In addition, since 2010, production engineering development and process innovation further advanced toward achieving high-quality, low-cost manufacturing, and toward being able to see things from the customer's perspective at all times.

Production Engineering chronology (main points)

Production Engineering chronology (main points)

Automobile production processes

Automobile production processes


Okochi Memorial Prize

Research and practical application of enclosed die forging
Daily order system for diversified automobile production
Research and practical application of computer-aided press die design and evaluation system
Research and practical application of flexible production system with medium-variety and medium-volume capability
Special Production
Research and practical application of highly flexible production system operable non-stop year around
Research and practical application of integrated flexible welding and assembly system for automobile bodies
Development of integrated body panel production system using laser-welding
Development of new automobile assembly line
Development of motoring-based, engine-function automatic inspection system
Special Production
Short lead time and low-cost development of stamping dies for automobile body steel sheets made possible by developing high-strength, tempered cast iron

About Okochi Prize

The Okochi Memorial Foundation was established in April 1954 in line with the wishes of Dr. Masatoshi Okochi, president of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, for the purpose of contributing to the development of Japanese industries and science technologies through promoting "the advancement of industrial engineering".
The foundation's main activities are giving prizes, fostering research and promoting technology exchanges and publishing.

The Okochi Memorial Prize acknowledges remarkable achievements related to industrial engineering, research and development of production technology and the application of advanced production methods. As a commendation in the industrial sector, it is a prize of extreme honor.

Type of Prize
Subject achievement
Prizes given to individuals or groups of less than 5 persons
Okochi Memorial Grand Technology Prize
(1 Prize/year)
For significant contributions to academic and industrial development through the publishing or otherwise public disclosure of information of academic value on the results of original research in industrial engineering
Okochi Memorial Technology Prize
For significant contributions to industry through the achievement of exceptional inventions based on research in industrial engineering or production technology
Prizes given to business entities
Okochi Memorial Grand Production Prize
(1 Prize/year)
For outstanding industrial achievements made possible by creative research in industrial engineering
Okochi Memorial Production Prize
For outstanding industrial achievements made possible by exceptional inventions or designs based on research in industrial engineering or advanced production systems

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