The Story of Sakichi Toyoda
Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries Corporation, possessed a strong ambition to contribute to society from his days as a youth. He had devoted his 63-year-long life to invention.
Regarding quality as one of its material issues, Toyota Industries practices monozukuri (manufacturing) that quickly responds to the diverse, ever-changing needs of customers.
Carrying on the spirit of founder Sakichi Toyoda, Toyota Industries strongly believes that quality is the lifeblood of a company. Focusing on quality as one of our material issues and ensuring customer safety and reassurance are our most important responsibilities to our customers and form the basis of our approach to CSR.
Toyota Industries strives to maintain and improve the total quality of our corporate activities, which encompasses not only “product quality” but also “marketing quality” and “management quality.” “Product quality” is embodied in the safety, eco-friendliness, durability, ease of use and workmanship of our products, while “marketing quality” entails excellent sales and service in addition to these attributes and “management quality” further enhances our overall corporate image and brand strength in terms of all of these attributes.
Toyota Industries undertakes product development that meets customer expectations by capturing market needs and understanding how our products are actually used by customers.
At Toyota Industries, development of a new product entails defining specific goals to incorporate quality in every stage from product planning and design to production preparation, production, sales and after-sales services. We perform a design review (DR), which allows a product to proceed to the next stage only when a responsible business division head examines and approves whether the product has reached the target quality level.
Quality forms the basis of our operations. As such, we formulated our Quality Vision, which defines our philosophy in ensuring quality.
|Each and every member of the Toyota Industries Group makes sure to build in quality with ownership (Jikotei Kanketsu) at their own workplaces and positions to supply appealing products/services that exceed the expectations of customers around the world with safe and reliable quality.|
To achieve the goal of this vision, we issue the Quality Guidelines, which identify priority quality-related issues to be implemented in each fiscal year, to all production bases in and outside Japan and engage in quality assurance activities accordingly. The implementation status of these guidelines is reviewed by top management at the Quality Functional Meeting chaired by the head of the Production Headquarters*1 for identifying additional issues and devising countermeasures. Issues raised are followed up at meetings of the Company-wide Council of Heads of Quality Assurance Departments chaired by the head of the Quality Control Department*1. The Company-wide Council for Quality Improvement, also chaired by the head of the Quality Control Department.*1
*1:As of March 31, 2020
If a defect is found in a product after its launch, the Quality Assurance Department of the responsible business division takes the lead in examining and identifying the cause by going back to its development, design and production processes. We implement countermeasures both from the process and technological aspects and revise our new product development process as necessary. Through these measures, we strive to thoroughly avoid the recurrence of the defect in subsequent models.
Additionally, we make efforts to prevent the occurrence of defects in all products we develop and manufacture in the future. As an example, we provide education to production bases in and outside Japan with an eye to preventing defects by improving work procedures and processes.
Since improving the quality of our products requires concerted efforts with our business partners in and outside Japan, we are strengthening joint quality assurance activities with major business partners.
In each annual quality audit, we determine priority areas, conduct genchi genbutsu (go and see for yourself) inspections to confirm the improvement status of the previously identified deficiencies and provide quality education on items that should be reinforced in order to cultivate a deeper understanding of kaizen (improvement). To foster voluntary quality improvement efforts of business partners, we have introduced a self-audit system, in which business partners satisfying our criteria perform in-house quality audits and autonomously improve their quality assurance systems. In fiscal 2020, we again provided education to nurture next-generation quality leaders as part of our ongoing efforts for human resources development at business partners.
These activities enable our business partners to attain the level of quality assurance required and establish a culture to foster quality assurance on their own.
Toyota Industries provides systematic quality education to all employees to help them acquire quality assurance skills needed in actual operations. We have been soliciting creative proposals to nurture human resources who think and act on their own and create a better workplace through all-employee kaizen activities, while at the same time promoting the development of human resources who can take a scientific approach to quality assurance through quality control (QC) circle activities and by using statistical quality control (SQC)*3 techniques and big data analysis.
*3: Using statistical techniques to promote quality control and process improvements
To date, we have received 15 awards for employees’ creative ideas in the Creativity category in the Commendation for Science and Technology by Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. We have also presented the results of our QC circle activities at QC circle conventions both internally and externally and received multiple awards for our accomplishments.
Our production bases outside Japan also promote kaizen efforts and human resources development through QC circle activities. We help them undertake independent activities by training QC circle instructors. As a venue for presenting activity results, we hold the Global QC Circle Convention every year since 2015 and provide workshop sessions to raise skills.
Toyota Industries’ five QC circles won a gold prize at the International Convention on QC Circles in 2019, in which a total of 370 circles participated from 16 countries around the world. As an example, the project of Kirloskar Toyota Textile Machinery Pvt. Ltd. (KTTM), a subsidiary manufacturing textile machinery in India, was recognized for its genchi genbutsu and data-based improvement of the productivity of processing lines, which also resulted in personal growth of the project members.
As for nurturing human resources who can take a scientific approach, we launched a new program to provide basic education on big data analysis in addition to the existing SQC education. With a particular focus on practical application, we designed an original curriculum and textbook while keeping a balance between theory and practice. In the next five years, we will educate more than 1,000 engineers and simultaneously nurture core human resources in this area. Our ultimate goal is for all our engineers to possess basic knowledge on big data analysis so that they can solve problems using this technique.
As described above, to reinforce our foundation for quality assurance, we are promoting the development of human resources and an open workplace based on the belief that manufacturing starts with nurturing excellent personnel.