"Building quality into processes."

released on September 2005

Eiji Toyoda,
Executive Vice President, Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., 1960-1967

In June 1960, Eiji Toyoda, then-Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. (TMC), laid down guiding principles for quality control in a document, "Requests regarding inspection." In it he introduced the notion of "building quality into processes," pointing out that "the idea behind an inspection is to eliminate the need for inspections." As long as standards in processes could be kept at the highest possible levels, Toyoda thought inspections would — in an ideal world — become unnecessary.

Toyoda decided to produce the document in response to the difficulties TMC had been facing at the time. Increased output — in response to the incredible surge in demand due to Japan's rapid motorization at the time — saw a huge influx of insufficiently trained new staff at the factories. This was having serious repercussions on product quality.

In June 1961, TMC decided to adopt the system of Total Quality Control (TQC) to modernize management operations. To realize TQC, all employees in Toyota were required to "regard the next processes (on the production line) as their customers and provide them with the required amount and quality of goods and services on a timely basis." Individual quality control circles studied ways of determining the cause of defects when they occurred and devised countermeasures to prevent reoccurrence. In addition, quality control teams were formed at all levels to promote company-wide participation.

The first product to benefit from these improvements was the third generation Corona. Pressures to bring the second generation Corona to market as quickly as possible to meet market demand had led to early product defects, which, although later rectified, caused the car to be widely regarded as inferior in quality.

After company-wide efforts to implement TQC, the new Corona was launched in September 1964 and proved its superior quality in the "100,000-km continuous high-speed driving test" conducted on highways in Japan. The high profile test — the likes of which had never been seen before — meant the Corona soon earned a reputation for exceptional high speed performance and durability. The model had recovered its reputation and was on its way to becoming the best selling passenger car in Japan.

  • New Corona during the "100,000km continuous high-speed driving test" on the Nagoya-Osaka Expressway. The new Corona reached the milestone of 100,000 km following a non-stop drive for 58 days at 100km/hour.

  • TMC President Fukio Nakagawa (1961-1967) and Dr. W. Edwards Deming

After the success of the new Corona and through further improvements, Toyota's TQC efforts were officially recognized in 1965, when the company was awarded the Deming Application Prize for quality control management. Toyota has stressed the importance of quality control ever since, and it is thanks to these continued efforts that the Toyota brand the world over has become synonymous with Quality, Durability and Reliability.

  • Award Ceremony for the Deming Application Prize, 1965

  • Deming Medal, 1965
    The Deming Application Prize was established by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers to commemorate the achievements of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who contributed much towards promoting and spreading quality control in Japan. It is awarded to the company recognized as having made the most outstanding improvements through the application of total quality control and is still awarded to this day.

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