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.
Production Engineering Development Center, Production Headquarters
He joined the company in 1990. He was assigned to the Headquarters Production Engineering Department (now the Production Engineering Development Center), and responsible for equipment production. While honing his skills in this field, and broadening his skill-set to include technologies, he gained wide experience of production preparation on the automated line. He then learned site operation for a production line through productive maintenance (PM) support activities, and at present, as the head of the Manufacturing Section of the Production Engineering Development Center, his efforts are in innovation of production equipment and in personnel training.
Since entering the company, I have been engaged in manufacturing production equipment, and in order that this can make a contribution, I have been involved in productive maintenance activity support for business divisions and subsidiaries. It was very refreshing to work towards improvements with personnel in manufacturing locations, aiming to ensure stable production, and I really got a feel for how a production line evolved. However, while searching for the root cause of various issues, I came to think that these problems could all have been prevented if we had taken on board the viewpoints of others, and learned from their expertise and know-how.
At present, so that it can respond to the globalization of manufacturing locations, monozukuri (manufacturing) in Japan is accelerating the use of compact production facilities and process consolidation that accommodate volume fluctuation. However, establishing these at the same time results in increasingly complicated and complex facilities, making even small problems with the facilities difficult to handle, and inevitably these lead to the line being stopped. Currently, we are combining both high-complexity facilities with high levels of stability, and unless we carry out manufacturing innovations that will not throw personnel into disarray, we will not be able to maintain our international competitiveness.
For example, in equipment production, for an event that is causing problems in the manufacturing site, we consider the perspective of workers and maintenance staff, and together with engineers can create even better equipment no matter how hard it may be. In the future, it is essential that we have personnel who are not constrained by conventional frameworks. Having such personnel will probably lead to production innovations that cannot easily be replicated by our competitors.
In every part of our company, we are accumulating know-how built up over the years, and further developing this through friendly competition. In the future, unless technicians directly involved with production continue to hone their expertise and skills, as well as take the challenge of manufacturing unconstrained by conventional bounds, then I feel that the very existence of Japanese manufacturing locations will be in danger. Japanese manufacturing plants are still home to manufacturing know-how that is the envy of other countries. So that we can make use of this know-how, we should not only strive to develop technicians, but we ourselves should try to become personnel who can play a new role, and who are not constrained by conventional practices.