A List of Toyota Production System Competitive Advantage Tools

This is a List (not in any Order) of Tools That Give Toyota a Competitive Advantage

Toyota Production System Tools took Toyota to 6+ Sigma. Compare them against your System Tools. Not all tools are uniquely Toyota. The Toyota Production System is very much a continually improving system. This list is roughly in order. There are dependencies such as standardization which must occur before Kata Continuous Improvement, Policy Propagation, and Realization.


1. Start the Toyota Production System Competitive Tools with Operational Guidance

Competitive Advantage: Guidance for everyone at Toyota. Removes ambiguity, and provides direction. Everyone knows what it takes to succeed.

The movement to 6+ Sigma requires guidance. Toyota has changed its Guiding principles, but these are the Principles that took it to 6+ Sigma. How would you get to 6+ Sigma without guidance?

2. This is a key Toyota Production System tool and all their Processes are Standardized. Standardization of Processes is a Starting Point and an End Unto Itself.

Competitive Advantage: Toyota moves ahead with all processes running with Best Practices.

The importance of operating standardized processes is obvious but every process in the system? That’s what Toyota does.

3. Value Streams are a Major Key to Toyota’s Success and There are Many Dependencies on Them. This is from Lean Six Sigma.

Competitive Advantage: Profound Knowledge of every process allows Toyota to know where to focus improvement efforts and look for areas of Flow.

A Value Stream contains every process from customer order to customer delivery. It gives you Profound Knowledge of every process in the Value Stream. Mapping Value Streams not only changes the direction of your system to a customer focus but it is also a prerequisite to so many other Toyota Production System benefits.

4. This Toyota Production System Tool was only recently Discovered. Subsequently, it Drives Their Continued Success: Kata Continuous Improvement, Policy Propagation, and Realization.

Competitive Advantage: Accelerates Toyota into the future quicker than any competitor.

Kata is so powerful that Toyota will not expand into a new plant unless they can get Kata up and running immediately. Kata leads them into the future. Just think of how much you could improve your system with:
  1. 11 ideas per person per year, and
  2. every single idea is in a predefined business-benefiting direction.

This is a strategic program for Toyota and they will not expand unless they can seamlessly implement it. It was a secret for many years.


5. Above all, Production Leveling Smooths the Flow into any System

Competitive Advantage: Production Leveling creates smooth flow through any Value Stream.

Whether you are in manufacturing or any other system, you can benefit from constant input into the system. That is the essence of Production Leveling,

6. To clarify, Flow is the Optimum Method of Process to Process Transfer

Competitive Advantage: It is not only the most efficient method of process-to-process flow but is also the way to initiate Lean Production.

Flow is the name of the ideal transfer from one process to the next. Whether you have a “push” or “pull” environment, Flow is better than either.

7. Mostly For Manufacturers: Autonomation is the Ability of a Machine to Stop if it Detects an Error

Competitive Advantage: Autonomation stops a machine from producing defects before a human notices.

Nearly 100 years ago Toyota was a textile manufacturer. They came up with the idea of modifying a loom so that it would stop if a thread broke. This saved a lot of time and mess. This is the start of Autonomation. Autonomation is the ability of a machine to stop if it detects it made a defect.

8. Kanban & Lean Production. Firstly, Kanban is Toyota’s Pull System an Integral Part of Lean Production

Competitive Advantage: Enables faster manufacturing and Just-in-Time manufacturing including Supplier Delivery.

Kanban and Lean Production are married together. Kanban is the “Pull” system that enables Lean Production and is what allows Toyota to only have 2 hours of inventory on their docks. One large Kanban advantage is that it limits inventory from the Supplier to the Dock, from the Dock to the Assembly Line, and within the Assembly Line. There are other advantages, but Inventory reduction is huge.

9. andon, unlike Autonomation, This Toyota Production System Tool requires a Human to Stop the Assembly Line When They Detect a Defect

Competitive Advantage: Provides for the incremental eradication of defects.

This is a huge advantage. No matter what system you operate, if it creates defects, then andon can help. Lest you think that it just leads to the eradication of all defects, Toyota still receives about 800 a year in their factories.

10. For Manufacturers Only: This is a Key Toyota Production System Tool: Lean Production or Lean Manufacturing is a Toyota Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage: Lean Production or Lean Manufacturing removes the excess inventory of Mass Production and smooths production flow. It starts a build based on a customer order.

Toyota leaped ahead of its competition with its implementation of Lean Production. There are too many advantages to mention here but click on this button to see how Toyota Built its Lean Production System.

11. Visual Control, Specifically Around Kanban, andon, and Processes.

Competitive Advantage: Alerts workers and management to production flow, defects, and process activities.

These 3 Visual Control methods keep Toyota employees in the loop for important system status updates.
  1. Kanban – Toyota’s Pull Solution,
  2. andon – Toyota’s defect eradication effort, and
  3. Process Activities – A process audit methodology.

12. Suppliers are a Key Requirement to Toyota’s Success in Becoming a 6+ Sigma Company

Competitive Advantage: Toyota will invest employee time in improving a Supplies operations to meet Toyota’s strict quality standards.

Simply, if your operations operate at 6+ Sigma, your suppliers must also operate at 6+ Sigma. Toyota has a relationship with its suppliers where Toyota will actually send Toyota employees to work in Supplier organizations to help improve them so that they meet Toyota’s rigorous requirements.

13. A Winning Culture

Competitive Advantage: The whole company is accelerating forward based on the employee’s positive effort.
Employees are the lifeblood of Toyota. The respect between employees and management creates a working relationship that benefits everyone.

In Conclusion

Toyota Production System Tools took decades to get to where they are today. It should take you a considerably less amount of time as the study of Toyota can improve the time it takes considerably. It requires the ability to stick to a long-range plan and to execute in the right order. For example, Kata must follow Standardization, as you improve a process.