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Toyota Production System

The Toyota Production System has gained enormous popularity around the world. Find out where it came from and the origins of its development.

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Toyota Production System

Toyota’s approach to car manufacturing has definitely revolutionized the entire automotive industry.

What is the Toyota Production System?

The Toyota Production System (TPS for short) is a strategic component of the Japanese management system. The basic principle of the Toyota Production System is to continuously improve the quality of manufactured products, with the involvement of all employees. This system is also known as the “lean production system” or “Just in Time System”.

History of Toyota’s Production System

Sakichi Toyoda’s automatic looms

Toyota’s Production System has its roots in Sakichi Toyoda’s looms. The automatic loom not only automated work that was once done manually, but also made it possible to measure the work of the machine itself. With the invention of the automatic loom, Sakichi quickly improved both productivity and labor efficiency. This became the beginning of one of the two pillars of the system, namely Jidoka.

Continuous system evolution

TPS then evolved over many years. Through trial and error, process efficiency was constantly improved and waste was eliminated. Sakichi Toyoda’s son Kiichiro Toyoda, along with production engineer Taiichi Ohno, played a major role in improving the system.

Kiichiro Toyoda – founder of Toyota Motor Corporation – later developed the Just In Time method. This method became the second pillar of Toyota’s Production System. The Just In Time method was used to eliminate waste between operations, lines and processes.


The ideal conditions for making things are created when machines, equipment and people work together to add value without generating any waste.

Kiichiro Toyoda


For Taiichi Ohno, the inspiration to optimize processes came from American self-service stores. Thus the idea of Pull production was born. The idea, in a nutshell, is to optimize production processes in such a way that there is no downtime caused by resource deficits or any waste caused by excess inventory or manufactured goods.

Development of Toyota’s Production System

The philosophy of “Daily Improvements” and “Good Thinking, Good Products” made Toyota’s system the most efficient production system in the world. Toyota quickly gained a competitive advantage over American giants after implementing the developed solutions in its plants. Many companies tried to adopt TPS in their environment, but were not always successful.

Today, all of Toyota’s manufacturing plants are making incremental improvements to their system, continuing the process of continuous improvement initiated by the system’s creators.

Toyota’s 4P model

Jeffrey Liker, in his book “The Toyota Way,” outlined the principles by which companies can successfully implement Toyota’s methods and tools into their organizations. These principles have been called the 4P model of Toyota. This model allows one to understand the thinking of the creators of the “lean production system.” The 4P model describes the foundations of an organization that values experimentation, learning from mistakes and focusing on continuous improvement.

Toyota’s 4P model consists of four foundations:

  • Philosophy

This foundation is based on seeing the company as a vehicle for adding value not only to customers, but also to the community, partners, employees.
Belief in people is also very important in this system. This is perfectly reflected in the saying “We don’t just build cars, we build people.” At Toyota, they know that happy employees are the key to the company’s success. Toyota supports the passion development and career building of its employees. The company invests in a lot of training; it’s part of their culture.

  • Process

This foundation speaks to treating change for the better as a process of “continuous improvement.”
In the Toyota system, Kaizen and eliminating waste is built into the company’s culture. All employees – regardless of position – are involved in the process.

  • People/Partners

In line with this foundation, employees and partners are challenged, so they are given the opportunity to improve their skills, gain new experiences and increase their confidence.

  • Problem solving

Problem solving is the driving force behind an organization’s learning process.
In the Toyota system, to solve a problem a manager must go to the “real place and the real thing” (Genba/Gemba) and personally verify all information about the problem (Genchi Genbutsu). Only this approach allows the right decision to be made.

Toyota Production System

Source: own study based on Global Toyota

After reading this article, you may already know what the key to Toyota-like success is. We encourage you to expand your knowledge of the methods and tools used in the Toyota system with Opexity’s courses!

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