Toyota’s Taiichi Ohno inducted into Automotive Hall of Fame



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Taiichi Ohno, engineer and former Toyota executive, designed and launched the legendary Toyota Production System (TPS). TPS facilitates the production of high quality products in the fastest and most efficient way possible. The concept revolutionized the Japanese automotive industry, as well as manufacturing systems around the world.

Ohno graduated from Nagoya Higher Technical School (now called Nagoya Institute of Technology) in 1932 with a degree in mechanical engineering. After graduating, he was hired at Toyoda Automatic Loom Works Ltd. (now called Toyota Industries Corporation). Ohno joined the Toyota Motor Company in 1943. Three years later, he was promoted to the management of machine shops No. 2 and No. 3 of the Koromo plant.

In 1948, alongside Eiji Toyoda, he began working on ideas to increase productivity and reduce the waste of resources. TPS is based on the Just-in-Time (JIT) production philosophy, created by Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda and his son Kiichiro Toyoda. They believed that the best way to gather parts for products was to get them “just in time”. This practice was first implemented by Toyoda during the production of automatic looms.

The use of JIT in the Toyota production system means that individual cars can be built to order and every component must fit perfectly the first time because there is no alternative available. It is therefore impossible to hide pre-existing manufacturing problems; they must be treated immediately. The system requires that parts only arrive on the assembly line when they are installed, reducing the need for storage and making factories smaller and cheaper to operate.

TPS is supported by two conceptual pillars:

  • Just-in-time: produce only what is needed, in the quantity needed, when it is needed. No wasted time or excess material.
  • Jidoka: loosely translated as “automation with a human touch”. The machines detect their own inconsistencies/errors, stopping production, alerting the supervisor of the error with an “Andon” signal. This process prevents the production of defective products.

Ohno was named executive vice president of Toyota in 1975. After stepping down in 1978, Ohno remained a consultant for the company until 1982. He wrote three widely read books: Toyota Production System (1978), Workplace Management (1983), and Just in Time for Today and Tomorrow (1986).

Ohno’s career has been defined by his work training employees and suppliers on his revolutionary manufacturing philosophy.

1912

Taiichi Ohno was born in Dailan, China

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