The origin of the Toyota Production System

A production system that has been fine-tuned over generations

Roots of the Toyota Production System

The Toyota Production System (TPS), which is steeped in the philosophy of "the complete elimination of all waste" imbues all aspects of production in pursuit of the most efficient methods, tracing back its roots to Sakichi Toyoda's automatic loom. The TPS has evolved through many years of trial and error to improve efficiency based on the Just-in-Time concept developed by Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder (and second president) of Toyota Motor Corporation.

Waste can manifest as excess inventory in some cases, extraneous processing steps in other cases, and defective products in yet other cases. All these "waste" elements intertwine with each other to create more waste, eventually impacting the management of the corporation itself.

The automatic loom invented by Sakichi Toyoda not only automated work which used to be performed manually but also built the capability to make judgments into the machine itself. By eliminating both defective products and the associated wasteful practices, Sakichi succeeded in tremendously improving both productivity and work efficiency.

Kiichiro Toyoda, who inherited this philosophy, set out to realize his belief that "the ideal conditions for making things are created when machines, facilities, and people work together to add value without generating any waste." He conceived methodologies and techniques for eliminating waste between operations, between both lines and processes. The result was the Just-in-Time method.

By practicing the philosophies of "Daily Improvements" and "Good Thinking, Good Products, " the TPS has evolved into a world-renowned production system. Furthermore, all Toyota production divisions are making improvements to the TPS day and night to ensure its continued evolution.

Recently, the "Toyota spirit of making things" is referred to as the "Toyota Way." It has been adopted not only by companies inside Japan and within the automotive industry, but in production activities worldwide, and continues to evolve globally.

Sakichi Toyoda

Toyoda Power Loom equipped with a new weft-breakage automatic stopping device (developed in 1896)
World's first automatic loom with a non-stop shuttle-change motion, the Type-G Toyoda Automatic Loom (developed in 1924)

Kiichiro Toyoda

Drawing on his experience of introducing a flow production method using a chain conveyor into the assembly line of a textile plant (completed in 1927) with a monthly production capacity of 300 units, Kiichiro Toyoda also introduced this method into the body production line at Toyota Motor Co., Ltd.'s Koromo Plant (present day Honsha Plant), completed in 1938.

Type-G Automatic Loom assembly line
Toyota Standard Sedan Model AA announced in 1936

Eiji Toyoda (1913-)

By ensuring thorough implementation of jidoka and the Just-in-Time method, Eiji Toyoda increased workers' productivity by adding value and realized the Toyota Production System, which enabled Toyota to compete head-on with companies in Europe and the U.S.

Taiichi Ohno

With strong backing from Eiji Toyoda, Taiichi Ohno helped establish the Toyota Production System, and built the foundation for the Toyota spirit of "making things" by, for example, creating the basic framework for the Just-in-Time method.

Toyota's spirit of "making things" is being spread throughout the world as The Toyota Way