Taiichi Ohno


Taiichi Ohno was regarded as “ruthless” in his will to drive out waste from the Toyota production system. One day Ohno stepped into one of the large warehouses at Toyota Gosei and told the staff of managers around him, “Get rid of this warehouse and in one year I will come back and look! I want to see this warehouse made into a machine shop and I want to see everyone trained as machinists.” And not surprisingly, one year later that building became a machine shop and everyone had been retrained. This story resembles what kind of person he was.

Born in Dalian, Eastern China, Taiichi Ohno joined the Toyota Automatic Loom Works between the World Wars. Later he switched to work as a Production Engineer for the Toyota Motor Manufacturing towards the end of the Second World War, at a time when its productivity was way below that of the America’s mighty Detroit industry. After the World War II, Eiji Toyoda gave Ohno the crucial task to increase productivity and efficiency and get the struggling Toyota Motor company back on track.

In 1953, Ohno visited the USA to study Ford’s Production Method, but he was much more inspired by the American supermarkets. He noticed how customers would take from shelves only what they needed at that time, and how those stocks were quickly and precisely replenished. On his return to Japan, Ohno developed the same idea into the Toyota Production System known as the “Kanban”. In TPS, each production process sets out its wares for the next process to choose from just as a supermarket does. Thus production is “pulled” by the demand down the line rather than, as in previous assembly line systems, being “pushed” by the production rate higher up the line. Ohno had the same insights applied to a well-run warehouse, with ‘goods-in’ closely matching ‘goods-out’, and no space for long-term storage.

To improve process flow, Ohno decided that instead of putting the machines of one process together and to carry parts back and forth between processes, he would lay out the plant according to the operation flow. He then assigned one worker to more than one machine which gave birth to the theory of ‘One operator, many processes’. This system increased production efficiency 2-3 times than the mass production required.

Asprova’s Sales Order Scheduling feature synchronizes sales order from customers to manufacturing orders generated based on forecast which avoids overproduction, supporting the principle established by Ohno which cut back wastefulness and inefficiencies. Also our Auto-Replenishment Production feature can automatically generate production orders to replenish inventory when “pulled” by the demand to keep the inventory from falling below the safety stock level



Photo credits: © Toyota Motor Corporation

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