Toyota Motor Corporation, at the behest of President Akio Toyoda, has put a three-year freeze on new manufacturing plants across the globe in order to develop workers’ skills.
“To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine,” according to Mitsuru Kawai, a 50-year veteran tasked to spearhead this initiative.
Supervising 100 Toyota workstations across Japan, Kawai is re-training workmen to forge crankshafts from scratch and to learn to do it better than the machines they replaced.
This early in the process, Toyota has already eliminated a considerable amount of wasted materials in manually building crankshafts, axle beams and chassis parts at the Honsha plant.
The experience and knowledge gained may be applied in the production of the next-generation Prius.
This is all in line with Toyota’s principle of ‘kaizen’ or continuous improvement and the only way to do this is by letting humans learn in order to teach the machine.