If you only ever read one book on the Toyota Production System or Lean Manufacturing then this book by Taiichi Ohno is the one.

There are hundreds of books and articles written about TPS / Lean Manufacturing but none provide the foundations that this book by Taiichi Ohno does. There were cultural developments about performance improvement occurring within Toyota from the 1930s in Japan, however Taiichi Ohno is credited with the true hands-on work at the “coal face”, on the factory floor, to develop the foundations of TPS and drive the benefits in a most uncompromising way. The fundamental message was simple; “look for and eliminate waste.”

Chapter 1 introduces the need for focusing on waste. Much of this is still applicable today. Also, the basis for the Toyota Production System is clarified; that is the absolute elimination of waste and the two pillars to support this are “just-in-time” and “autonomation” or automation with a human touch.

Chapter 2 looks at the evolution of TPS, in particular, problem solving by asking WHY five times – or 5 Why Analysis. The concepts of Standard Work, Teamwork, Kanban, Flow and Leveling are introduced.

Chapter 3 extends the above concepts in more depth.

Chapter 4 talks about the background to the development of TPS and provides a clearer view of how the elimination of waste became entrenched in Toyota from very early in Toyota’s life through to today.

Chapter 5 discusses the differences between the Ford system (mass production from early in the 20th century) and the Toyota Production System and highlights where the respective upsides and downsides may apply.

Chapter 6 covers the use of TPS in a low growth environment and making use of available resources.

This book is not a text book on how to do or implement TPS. This book is about the philosophy that underpins TPS and Lean. It will help you set your baseline on where to start when considering if the concepts developed for TPS are likely to be suitable for your business. Highly recommended!

Toyota Production System – Beyond Large-Scale Production
Taiichi Ohno
Productivity Press ISBN 0-915299-14-3
Original Japanese version 1978
English translation 1988 by Productivity Press

Other books by Taiichi Ohno include “Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management” and “Just-in-Time for Today and Tomorrow.”

Peter Gardner is a Senior Lean Consultant with Shinka Management focusing on business profit improvement utilizing lean manufacturing practices. Peter has been involved in leading lean manufacturing programs for the past three decades. In his previous role as Global Manufacturing Engineering Director at TI Automotive, Peter had responsibility for manufacturing operations at 80 factories.

Shinka Management provides lean consulting, lean training and Japan study mission week-long training courses which include Toyota factory tours and visits to several plants in the Toyota supply chain to learn about the application of TPS.