The Toyota production system is one of the most efficient production systems in the world. The efficiency of Toyota production system makes it one of the most studied production system in the world. Thousands of managers have attempted to replicate the production system in their own companies. One of the major characteristics of Toyota production system is that it empowers employees to be in control of their activities. Toyota ensures that improvements start at the lowest possible level within the company.
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Toyota strives to ensure that it has an ideal production system. According to the company, an ideal system should have defect free products. Toyota ensures that its employees have skills that would enable them produce defect free products within a short time. Toyota retrains or replaces workers who fail to meet this condition.
In addition, Toyota strives to reduce the batch size of its production cycle. Smaller batches reduce wastage and increase the efficiency of the production . Toyota’s just-in-time production strategy helps the company minimize wastage of labor, energy and other resources (Spear & Bowen, 1999). Reducing the amount of inventory reduces the cost of managing the inventory. This increases the efficiency of the company (Ohno, 2002).
Continuous development of Toyota’s production system makes it difficult for companies to emulate the production system. Toyota uses the scientific method in formulating developments in its production systems. Developments in the production system begin with the formulation of a hypothesis. The hypothesis determines the objective of the improvements in the production system (Spear & Bowen, 1999).
Employees design an experiment on how to undertake the improvements. This enables them to simulate the improvements. Simulations usually take place in reality. Whenever possible, Toyota undertakes the simulations in the workplace. When it is impossible to test the ideas in the real world, the company recreates the work area to test the idea. Simulation enables operators and supervisors detect areas that need further improvements (Liker, 2011).
Toyota’s production system arranges all production processes in a single, smooth flow. Just-in-time production enables the company produce the right quantity of a product at the right time. This reduces wastage in the production system. Just-in-time production system ensures that Toyota has lean operations. In addition, employees of the company implement various improvements in their works. Proper implementation of changes in the production process is one of the key objectives of a lean production system (Ohno, 2002).
Ensuring that employees initiate various changes eases the implementation process. One of the key features of a lean production system is that it establishes a time frame for each process within the production cycle. Toyota links its pace of production with the demand (Ohno, 2002). This reduces the amount of inventory, and the time it takes for the customer to receive motor vehicles after placing an order.
Lean production systems have continuous flow processes. Toyota strives to reduce the batch sizes to create a continuous flow production process. The company ensures that it produces one vehicle at a time to create continuity in its production process (Ohno, 2002). This reduces the time lag of the production process.
In addition, continuous flow process makes optimum use of the available labor. This ultimately reduces the cost of production. Toyota’s production system enables the company to produce high quality vehicles in a cost effective manner. However, the efficiency of the production system is highly depedent on the ability of the employees to undertake their activities efficiently.
Liker, J. (2011). The Toyota way: Management principles and fieldbook. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Ohno, T. (2002). The Toyota production system. London: Productivity Press.
Spear, S. & Bowen, H.K. (1999). Decoding the DNA of Toyota production system. Harvard Business Review, 77(5), 97-106.