14 Principles of Toyota Manufacturing Process – Lean Process Improvement Training in Sydney

When you attend any Lean Six Sigma courses, you’ll be exposed to the Toyota manufacturing process as a model to understand the Lean Six Sigma process.

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In this article, we will look more closely at Toyota’s philosophies that have become a spiritual pinnacle of modern manufacturing. “The Toyota Way” is a book about the 14 principles that drive Toyota’s culture. The book was written by Dr. Jeffery Liker, a leading author on lean practices and an expert on U.S. and Japanese differences in manufacturing.


Have a Long-Term Philosophy

Principle 1: Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

  • In Toyota’s vision, the purpose is to work, grow, and align the organization toward a common purpose that is bigger than making money.
  • The vision instills the importance of generating value for the customer, society, and the economy. The business and its people must accept responsibility for its conduct and continuously improve its skills.

Lean Process

Principle 2: Most Business Processes are 90% Waste and 10% Value-Added Work.

  • Create continuous flow and a process flow to bring problems to the surface.
  • Work processes are redesigned to eliminate waste (Muda).
  • Strive to cut back to zero the amount of time that any project is sitting idle or waiting for someone to work on it.
  • The Heart of One-Piece Flow is called Takt Time (Rhythm in German) “The rate of Customer Demand.”

Principle 3: Use a pull system to avoid overproduction.

  • Provide your customers with what they want, when they want it, and in the amount they want.
  • Minimize your work in process and warehousing of inventory by stocking small amounts of each product and frequently restocking based on what the customer actually takes away.
  • The Toyota Way is not about Managing Inventory, it is about Eliminating It.

Principle 4: Level out the workload (Heijunka).

  • Work like the tortoise, not the hare. This helps achieve the goal of minimizing waste (Muda), not overburdening people, or the equipment (Muri), and not creating uneven production levels. (Mura).
  • Level out the workload as an alternative to the stop and start approach of working on projects in batches that is typical at most companies.

Principle 5: Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.

  • Build into your equipment the capability of detecting problems and stopping itself. Any employee in the Toyota Production System has the authority to stop the process to signal a quality issue.
  • It is OK to stop or slow down to get quality right the first time to enhance productivity in the long run.

Principle 6: Standardised tasks and processes are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.

  • Although Toyota has a bureaucratic system, the way that it is implemented allows for continuous improvement (Kaizen) from the people affected by that system.

Principle 7: Use visual control so no problems are hidden.

  • Included in this principle is the 5S Program – steps that are used to make all work spaces efficient and productive, help people share work stations, reduce time looking for needed tools and improve the work environment:
  • Sort: Sort out unneeded items
  • Straighten: Have a place for everything
  • Shine: Keep the area clean
  • Standardise: Create rules and standard operating procedures
  • Sustain: Maintain the system and continue to improve it

Principle 8: Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes.

  • Use technology to support people, not to replace people. Often it is best to work out a process manually before adding technology to support the process.
  • New technology is often unreliable and difficult to standardise. A proven process that works generally takes precedence over new and untested technology.
  • Conduct actual tests before adopting new technology in business processes, manufacturing systems, or products.
  • Reject or modify technologies that conflict with your culture or that might disrupt stability, reliability, and predictability.

People and Partners

Principle 9: Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.

  • The principles have to be engrained; it must be the way one thinks. Employees must be educated and trained: they have to maintain a learning organisation.
  • Grow leaders and develop role models from within, rather than buying them from outside the organisation.
  • A good leader must understand the daily work in great detail so he or she can be the best teacher of your company’s philosophy.

Principle 10: Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.

  • Success is based on the team, not the individual. Teamwork is something that has to be learned.

Principle 11: Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.

  • Toyota treats suppliers much like they treat their employees, challenging them to do better and helping them to achieve it.
  • Have respect for your partners and suppliers and treat them as an extension of your business.
  • Challenge your outside business partners to grow and develop. It shows that you value them. Set challenging targets and assist your partners in achieving them.

Problem Solving

Principle 12: You need to go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation (Genchi Genbutsu).

Principle 13: Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly (Nemawashi).

The following are decision parameters:

  • Find what is really going on; go and see to test
  • Determine the root cause
  • Consider a broad range of alternatives
  • Build consensus on the resolution
  • Use efficient communication tools

Do not pick a single direction and go down that one path until you have thoroughly considered alternatives. When you have picked, move quickly and continuously down the path.

Principle 14: Become a learning organisation through relentless reflection (Hansei) and continuous improvement (Kaizen).

The general problem solving technique to determine the root cause of a problem includes:

  • Initial problem perception
  • Clarify the problem
  • Locate the area or point of cause
  • Investigate root cause (5 whys)
  • Countermeasure
  • Evaluate
  • Standardise

Once you have established a stable process, use continuous improvement tools to determine the root cause of inefficiencies and apply effective countermeasures.

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