Refining Manufacturing


Inheriting the founding spirit,
and tackling your work with a passionate "heart"

Mitsuo Toma

Manufacturing Department No. 1, Compressor Division

He joined the company in 1975. He was assigned to the (then) Technical Services Section in the Quality Assurance Department, Industrial Vehicle Division at the Takahama Plant. He was transferred to the Manufacturing Department Machinery Section in the Compressor Division, and immersed himself in process improvements as an engineering staff member. He subsequently served as the head of the Machinery Section, of the Manufacturing Department No. 2, and of the Technical Training School, and since 2012 has been head of the Manufacturing Department No. 2 of the Compressor Division.

Our company was established in 1926, in order to manufacture the Type G automatic loom, but in 2009, we were dumbfounded to find a weaving mill with a Type G automatic loom still in active service. We heard that this had been in operation for nearly 80 years, and when looking at this, we can see some initial elements of the Toyota Production System—such as Andon. Here I again really feel the greatness and passion of Sakichi Toyoda, founder of our company, and his subordinates. So that we can continue to achieve sustainable growth, it is necessary that we steadily provide customers with reasonably-priced products that exceed customers' expectations, and that we increase our competitiveness by taking control of our know-how, and moving towards blackboxing. However, ensuring sustainable growth of the company is no easy matter, and so I think our predecessors constantly worked very hard on Kaizen (continuous improvement) and learned from the passionate "heart" of our founding fathers.

Based upon this, future human resources will need to have the capabilities to step beyond the bounds of processes, and implement optimal factory-wide improvements. Improvements to each process are necessary, however their effectiveness is limited. Achieving a major effect requires a broad overview of the factory. However, when compared to a generation ago, work has become increasingly segmented, and it is now more difficult to gain experience in all aspects of a process. Given this, it is my hope that personnel in managerial positions can give their all in training young employees to be able to take a wider view of the whole factory, by actively providing experience in the TPS Dojo (training place), and through participation in Jishuken (autonomous Kaizen study group) activities.

Noted American writer William Ward once said "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." Sakichi Toyoda failed repeatedly in his efforts, but with passion continue to challenge himself to benefit others and the greater good; his efforts later led to him eventually perfecting the Type G automatic loom. I feel that guidance and the implementation of improvements that will light a fire in the hearts of young employees are important, with the aim of having even only a single employee learn from the high aspirations and passion of our founding fathers, and act of their own accord.