Taiichi Ohno con EVOLUTION OF TOYOTA PRODUCTION SYSTEMIt was the oil shock in the fall of 1973 that drew attention to our Toyota Production system. This was because in the slow growth economy which followed, Toyota Motor Company showed a relatively stronger resistance to recession than other companies.
The Toyota approach was the result of many years trial and error as searched for a way to survive in competition with the mass production system already well established in Europe and America. It is a product of the Toyota history which started with Mr. Sakichi Toyota and has continued through Kiichiro Toyota to the present.
From the beginning we felt we had some original ideas particularly suited to the economic environment of Japan. So, we did not want other companies especially those of the advanced countries, to understand it easily. Consequently we practiced the system and other techniques without publicizing them. Thus it is only natural that our system was not understood easily.
Recently I heard often from the outside that there seems to be some sort of secret in the Toyota production system and in “kanban”, which is the method of operating the system. We have received many direct and indirect inquiries from many people on the Toyota method of making things. They were not only from people in business, but from professors who are teaching production management in the universities and management consultants.
We are grateful for this interest on the Toyota Production system. However as the attention grows and as more people in the business in this country study the subject, there seems to be misunderstanding in some cases or, sometimes certain convenient portion are abused.
One specific example is to make a shortcut conclusion that Toyota Production System is a “Kanban system”, but factually wrong.
“Kanban” is one of the operational means of the Toyota Production System and just the adoption of “Kanban” alone does not mean that productivity will rise accordingly. And the intent of improving the record of a parent firm by “harassing the subcontractors” is entirely out of character with the idea of the Toyota Production System.
So in order for others to understand and apply Toyota Production system correctly I have written this book. In order to ensure correct understanding, emphasis was placed on the ideas and principles involved rather than giving many specific examples. I would like to tell this to readers in advance.