The Toyota Production System (TPS) defines the way we make our vehicles. It is an original manufacturing philosophy that aims to eliminate waste and achieve the best possible efficiency – it’s often called a “lean” or “just-in-time” system.
TPS is based on two concepts: jidoka and just-in-time. Jidoka, a Japanese term that can be translated as “automation with a human touch” is a method for quickly identifying and correcting any issues that could lead to faulty production. Just-in-time is about refining and coordinating each production process so that it only produces what is required by the next process in the sequence. By applying these concepts, we can produce vehicles quickly and efficiently, all meeting our high quality standards and our customers’ individual requirements.
TPS was developed during the second half of the 20th century and has benefited from many years of continuous improvement to increase our production speed and efficiency. Others have recognised its value too. Our system has been studied, adapted and put to use worldwide, not just by manufacturers, but by all types of businesses that want to make their performance more efficient.
Jidoka is a way of spotting problems and taking prompt action to correct faults at any stage in the production process. Machinery will automatically detect an issue and safely stop so that an inspection and any necessary adjustments can be made. Information is shared with others on the “andon" display board and operators can continue working on other machines. In this way, the system helps prevent problems from happening again while maintaining quality and high productivity.
Just-in-time means making only what is needed, when it is needed, at every stage of production. That means there is no waste, consistent quality and even production flow. It requires the production line to be stocked with all the right parts, in the right sequence, at the moment production begins. As parts are used up, new stock is delivered at the right time, in the right quantity so there is no interruption or slow-down in the production process. The kanban system is central to the just-in-time process, providing an automatic, real-time method to replenish parts at the line side and keep minimal stock.