I’m David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance.
I’ve been making my way through the history of events and people who have shaped Toyota, enabling them to become the great company they are.
It started with Sakichi Toyoda, who’s known in Japan as the King of Inventors. His Automatic Loom changed the game for the textile industry and provided seed money to start the Toyota Motor Company.
Sakichi’s son, Kiichiro and nephew, Risaburo focused on the passenger car business, first with an Automotive Division within the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works and later as the Toyota Motor Company. They struggled to reengineer cars and engines from Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.
Japan’s government asked them to design and build a truck for the military, which they did throughout World War II. After the war, Kiichiro wanted to get back into the passenger car business as soon as possible, but the restrictions of the occupation government prevented them from achieving his goal of catching the Americans in 3 years.
Before I get too far away from the Automatic Loom Works, I want to point out that in 1949, an engineer from Toyoda Boshuku, named Taiichi Ono was promoted to General Manager of the Koromo Plant Machining Plant. This facility integrated the engine and Powertrain plants. Ono noticed that operators worked at a single machine, often just watching the machine as it ran. The way that the automatic loom changed the game in textiles was instead of having one or more operators working each loom, now one operator could run a room full of looms, often up to 20. Ono wanted to bring that practice to Koromo and initiated programs to add simple automation to machine tools so they could start and finish without human action, allowing one operator to work several machines.
1950 would turn out to be a significant year with labor disputes and turmoil, a tie-up agreement with Ford that allowed Eiji Toyoda to study their processes and facilities as well as those of dozens of other suppliers, and the Korean War, which actually hampered the Ford agreement and passenger car production.
Toyota did receive orders for 4,679 Model BM trucks to support the war and those orders stabilized the company financially.
In the late 1940’s, the United States sent representatives from the US Census Bureau to help prepare Japan for a 1950 census. One of these representatives was W. Edwards Deming who had joined the Bureau in 1939 and applied statistical process control to their processes, significantly improving their productivity.
The Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers invited Deming to speak at one of their conferences, and as a result, he lectured in Japan for ten years teaching statistical process control and total quality management to as many as 20,000. JUSE named their top national quality prize after Deming in 1951. The quality movement had officially begun.
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Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.