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What We Can Learn from Toyota’s Production System

The Toyota Production System (TPS) is widely touted as a supercharged version of Lean Six Sigma. One of the most significant reasons that it works for the organization is that it has combined the methodology with a motivated, dedicated team of employees who are continuously striving toward improved process management.

This hard work this team puts into the TPS has paid off for the company. Its culture of high-performance is a direct consequence of the team’s desire to make Toyota as efficient as possible.

Some of the industry’s most creative solutions to common problems have emerged from Toyota as employees have been trained in the use of Six Sigma.

One of the most vital components of deploying Six Sigma is thinking outside the box when it comes to solutions. While it is a scientific process when it comes to the five steps it utilizes, there is always room for an element of innovation and ingenuity.

Toyota has, as a company, gone from strength to strength since introducing the TPS. It is able to continue to offer customers high-quality products at reasonable prices and works according to tight time schedules effortlessly.

Here are some of the valuable lessons Six Sigma has taught Toyota:

Time-saving saves money

Setup procedures often lead to unexpected expenses and delays. They cost money in terms of the labor hours they consume. Toyota recognized this and realized that there were several steps they could take to remedy the matter.

Staff members are trained to do their own setups and the procedure is managed well to make it as streamlined and efficient as possible. In some instances, the time spent on setup has reduced from days, weeks, or months to hours.

Teamwork is all

An essential component of the TPS is the need to work in a cooperative environment. Since the company has thousands of employees scattered across the globe, it is impossible for them all to meet and be heard. However, Toyota has not let that deter them at all, instead choosing to use it to their advantage.

The company directed its various plants to create teams of employees, each with a leader. Teams are required to take responsibility for performing highly specialized tasks after they’ve received enough training to ensure their competence.

They can now repair equipment, instead of waiting for someone to come as they did in the past. Many internal factory jobs are assigned to these teams.

The most significant contribution this makes to ensuring the success of Six Sigma certification, says data scientist Peter Peterka, is that Toyota’s actions have empowered employees. Involvement is one of the most highly rated factors in worker motivation. Employees have successfully sought and obtained advancement in the organization owing to the opportunity to demonstrate their potential during the completion of team tasks.

Today, Six Sigma is part and parcel of Toyota’s corporate climate, from the lowest to the highest levels. It is no longer something discussed by a few in the comfort of a boardroom, but it is also brought to life by every employee.

Often, less is more

Whereas many companies believe that bulk manufacture saves time and money, Toyota has adopted a different stance. The company believes that this practice leads to the additional expense of storing a large inventory, the potential for huge batches of defective parts, and large capital cost outlays.

By sticking to a minimum production maxim, Toyota has saved itself billions of dollars. Following the just-in-time principle and combining it with stockless production and demand flow technology, Toyota has streamlined its operations even further. The company encourages this process at its production plants as well as Toyota dealerships around the world.