How Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing Strategies Revolutionised the Automobile Industry


Toyota is a multinational automotive manufacturer headquartered in Toyota City, Japan. The company was founded in 1937 and has become one of the world’s largest and most recognisable car brands. And while the general public knows Toyota for its outstanding, long-lasting vehicles, the story behind its success is rooted in innovative manufacturing processes and lean production systems, which have helped the company improve efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction.

Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategies have been a key factor in the company’s success over the years. The company’s focus on eliminating waste, increasing efficiency, and improving quality have helped it to become one of the world’s largest and most successful car manufacturers.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the following things:

  • The core principles behind Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategy

  • How Toyota has integrated Computer Vision AI into their lean manufacturing strategies

  • The results of implementing these strategies

  • Examples of companies that have successfully adopted Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategies

The company’s lean manufacturing strategies were developed in the 1950s by Taiichi Ohno, a Toyota engineer, who believed that waste was the biggest enemy of efficiency and set out to eliminate it from the manufacturing process. Ohno identified seven types of waste: overproduction, waiting, transport, over-processing, excess inventory, unnecessary motion, and defects.

Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategies centre around five core principles: value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection. Each principle is fundamental to Ohno’s vision of reducing waste and is defined in the following:

Value: Toyota focuses on delivering value to the customer by identifying what they want and need.

Value Stream: Toyota maps out the entire value stream from raw materials to finished product to identify inefficiencies and waste.

Flow: Toyota designs processes to ensure a smooth flow of materials and information throughout the value stream.

Pull: Toyota produces only what is needed when it is needed, eliminating excess inventory.

Perfection: Toyota continuously improves its processes to eliminate waste and increase efficiency.

Toyota implemented its lean manufacturing strategies in a step-by-step process. First, the company identified the value it provided to customers and then mapped out its value stream. It then redesigned its processes to eliminate waste and ensure a smooth flow of materials and information. Finally, it implemented a pull system to produce only what was needed when needed.

Integration of Computer Vision AI into Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing Strategies

Toyota introduced computer vision technology into its manufacturing process in the early 2000s. The company recognised the need to improve its production processes to remain competitive and saw the potential benefits computer vision technology could offer.

Before adopting computer vision technology, Toyota relied heavily on human workers to inspect and identify defects during production. This process was slow and prone to errors, resulting in increased waste and reduced efficiency. Computer vision AI allowed Toyota to automate the inspection process and analyse data in real time, enabling the company to quickly identify defects and quality issues and take corrective actions promptly.

Additionally, computer vision also played a significant part in production process optimisation. By analysing data from sensors and cameras installed throughout the manufacturing process, Toyota could identify areas where they could streamline their processes and reduce waste. Streamlining helped the company to achieve its lean manufacturing goals and maintain its position as a leader in the automotive industry.

Results of implementing these strategies

Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategies have yielded impressive results over the years. The company’s focus on eliminating waste, increasing efficiency, and improving quality has helped it become one of the world’s largest and most successful car manufacturers.

Here are the results of Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategies:

  • Reduced lead times: Toyota was able to significantly reduce lead times which resulted in faster delivery times and increased customer satisfaction. Cameras and sensors were used to capture images of car parts during production, which were then analysed in real-time using computer vision algorithms to identify defects and quality issues, reducing the amount of time and resources required for manual inspection.

  • Increased productivity: Through continuous improvement efforts and standardisation, Toyota was able to increase productivity and reduce waste in its manufacturing processes.

  • Enhanced flexibility: Toyota’s global production system enables the company to respond to changes in customer demand with a lead time of two weeks or less, compared to the industry average of several months.

  • Inventory: Toyota reduced inventory levels using computer vision algorithms to track inventory levels in real-time, to ensure that they have the right parts and materials available at the right time. Reducing waste and optimising inventory levels.

Companies that adopted Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategies

Numerous companies, such as General Electric, Intel, and Nike have adopted Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategies. For instance, GE has successfully implemented a lean manufacturing system called the “GE Production System,” based on Toyota’s principles. Using the same strategies, GE’s international team was able to reduce the cost of four parts by as much as 35% in just 10 months, they were also able to find a way to cut the time it takes to replace a critical turbine component from 25 hours to 13 hours.

Similarly, Nike has implemented a lean manufacturing system known as “Nike Manufacturing Excellence,” which concentrates on waste elimination and efficiency improvement. As a result, the company has accomplished a 50% reduction in defect rates, 40% faster lead times, with up to 20% improvement in productivity.

These companies have attained remarkable outcomes by prioritising eliminating waste and process improvement maintaining a competitive advantage in their respective industries.

Toyota’s lean manufacturing strategies have been hugely successful, and the company’s focus on efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction has made it a model for other companies to follow. By identifying value, mapping out the value stream, ensuring a smooth flow of materials and information, producing only what is needed, and continuously improving processes with the implementation of technology, Toyota has been able to eliminate waste and increase efficiency while continuously improving the quality of their product. Many other companies have adopted similar strategies, and the principles of lean manufacturing continue to be relevant and valuable today.

Find out how Aicadium View can help your business today.

Achieve greater results with Aicadium’s AI-powered solution. Aicadium View collects data from on-site surveillance cameras using computer vision technology to generate actionable insights or recommendations, allowing for a holistic view of all the pieces that make your business run to uncover areas of opportunity. Giving you the insights you need to plan your business proactively.

Discover what AI can do for your business

New call-to-action

Recommended articles