Toyota Production Systems

Written by Elisabeth Forsythe
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Did you know that back the the 1970s, a Japanese car company changed the face of manufacturing forever? Toyota was once an unknown corporation, and America was in love with large, gas-guzzling cars built using the kind of assembly lines popularized in the late 1800s. But Toyota soon became one of the biggest car companies in the world with their unique manufacturing methodology, called Toyota Production Systems, or TPS.

TPS is now the model for Lean Implementation systems utilized by thousands of businesses. With Toyota Production Systems, traditional production methods are turned upside-down, if not thrown out entirely. The goal is to provide exactly what the consumer wants, exactly when they want it. The system allows for flexibility within the company--they are able to change at will to meet evolving demands. And production is maximized with a simple idea: processes that add value are encouraged, and processes that create waste are minimized or eliminated altogether.

But it's not always simple to assign value and identify areas of waste. TPS makes these evaluations clear-cut by defining value as "what the customer is willing to pay for." Therefore, any process that the customer wouldn't pay for is waste, or "muda." There are seven categories of muda in TPS: overproduction, waiting, transportation, inappropriate processing, unnecessary inventory, unnecessary/excess motion, and defects.

Oh What a Feeling! Toyota Production Systems

By using Toyota Production Systems, many companies have been able to enhance the perceived value of their products, and save time and money in the manufacturing process. TPS can improve overall quality, and enable production to run smoothly and efficiently--from initial assembly to delivery. And that's enough to make anyone jump for joy.

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