It turns out that today Toyota is not only engaged in the production of cars. But of course, the main thing for such a multifaceted company is the production of cars, because it is the largest manufacturer in the world.
It is also worth noting that, thanks to Toyota, interesting approaches to management have emerged. In addition, it was she who became the main engine of the entire economy of Japan in the last century.
Sakishi Toyoda, born in 1867 to a carpenter's family, loved to dream. He wanted to become an inventor in order to change the lives of people with his discoveries. Sakishi was the oldest child in the family, according to unwritten national traditions, it was he who was supposed to inherit his father's profession. It is good that in those days the old traditions were already turned a blind eye. So young Sakishi got a chance to become someone else and fulfill his dream. Toyoda took up the looms, immersed himself in this industry for a long time, starting in 1890.
Sakishi did not have a professional education, he learned everything in practice. In 1894, the novice inventor had a son, Kiishiro. It was he who in 20 years will help his father create an automatic loom. That device will form the basis for the emergence of the new company of the Toyoda family - Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. This is how the famous company appeared.
And in 1930 Sakishi Toyoda died, and his son Kiishiro became the head of the family business. They say that in fact Sakishi has always dreamed of doing cars. Legends say that his last request to his son was to switch to this direction. Be that as it may, but Kiishiro sold a patent for a family property - an automated loom. The new owners of the invention were the British from Platt Brothers & Co. Ltd., and Toyoda received £ 100,000.
These funds were invested by him in a new division of the company, which created its own car. It is worth noting that production was still carried out from scratch. The company began by simply copying successful American models. And this approach is, in general, typical of Japanese industrial culture. Local engineers prefer to copy something good until it is perfect. And only because you can already start developing yourself.
However, even just copying was not so easy. For a long time engineers could not complete the full range of works. It was only in 1936 that Toyoda Automatic Loom Works introduced the Toyoda AA car, which, of course, almost completely copied the American Chrysler Airflow. Overjoyed at the success, the company presented its own logo, and soon a truck. It was immediately exported to North China.
Already at the initial stage of production, the company began to adhere to some innovative approaches. While still a weaving company, Toyoda adhered to the principle that production should not stop due to problems with one worker. As a result, the finished product had minimal chances of getting defective. The same tactic was applied when the Japanese produced cars.
In 1937, Kiishiro Toyoda, seeing the successes of his automotive direction, decided to separate it into a separate enterprise. It received the name Toyota Motor Company. Obviously, in the name the letter "d" was replaced by "t". And there is a legend on this score. It turns out that when writing the word Toyoda, the hieroglyph "d" is rather difficult to display. It is necessary to do as many as nine strokes of the brush, and this number is traditionally unlucky for Japan. Kiishiro became superstitious when he decided that it was not worth dealing with something that could negatively affect sales. So instead of the hieroglyph "d" appeared "t", which required eight brush strokes. But for Japan, this is already a lucky number!
For a European, this attention to detail may sound ridiculous, but we just have different cultural backgrounds. In general, it is difficult for us to understand why Toyota employees love to sing the anthem of their company and generally work for the company all their lives. And so the Toyota car company was born. She was quickly led - the government placed an order for three thousand trucks. As a result, the company received funds for further research. After all, the Japanese understood that copying alone would not go far and sooner or later they would have to release an original product.
And in 1938, the first Toyota plant was opened in the city of Koromo, entirely focused on the creation of cars. And the funds for its construction were given by the government by the very same large order. Today the city of Koromo no longer exists - in honor of the company, it bears the name Toyota. During the Second World War, the company produced military trucks for the imperial army, while, due to a shortage, the design was simplified, for example, with one headlight. It is believed that one of the factors in the rapid defeat of Japan was the bombing of the allies of the city of Aichi, when the Toyota factories were destroyed.
In 1947, the company recovered and began producing commercial SA passenger models. Then the company's strategy for many years was laid. It was based on the buyout of companies and the establishment of subsidiaries that could ensure the production of components for cars throughout the entire production cycle. So the company secured itself against problems with the supply of spare parts. At the same time, the company began to cultivate a just-in-time delivery system.
Thanks to her, parts came to the warehouse in time for the start of car production. This made it possible to avoid huge deposits of unnecessary components. But really high-quality cars began to appear only in the early 1950s, with a complete transition to the creation of more or less their own cars. At that moment, another separate company was born, Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd. Its goal is the sale of finished products.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the factories of the Japanese company underwent significant modernization. Then the principles of "kaizen" are introduced into the company. The word itself is compound, it includes two parts, meaning "change" and "wisdom". Kaizen principles can be considered a kind of philosophy designed for incremental improvement. To achieve perfection, you just need to change for the better, albeit slowly, slowly, but every minute. By the early 1960s, the principles of continuous improvement were already being applied at Toyota factories.
And in 1951 another management innovation appeared in the company - the system of proposing ideas. Any employee of the firm could make suggestions for improving any process taking place in the company. Today such things seem normal for any large firm, but half a century ago it was a novelty. Later this successful approach was copied by Western companies.
And in 1957, a branch of a Japanese company, Toyota Motor Sales USA, was opened in America itself. The deliveries of cars from the Land of the Rising Sun to the USA began. True, the first experiment was unsuccessful. In the "automotive Mecca" it was not easy to declare itself, which led to poor sales of Japanese cars. And they did not respond well to American conditions. The first export version of the company, Toyota Crown, did not fit with the image of a good car in the United States. The company soon launched a six-year reform program that improved the quality of new models.
A breakthrough in terms of exports from Toyota came in 1973 with the onset of the oil crisis in the world. National economies, some enterprises suffered losses, and for the Japanese company this situation only benefited. Economical cars came into fashion, which Toyota immediately advertised in the United States. In 1982, together with General Motors, the Japanese built their first plant in America. And this enterprise will work no less efficiently than the Japanese branches. And in the late 80s, a new Lexus brand was born in the USA.
This brand of luxury cars was created by Toyota, with its help it was possible to press the classics such as Mercedes and Cadillac on the market. Toyota is currently the world's largest car manufacturer and remains committed to the kaizen principle as it continues to improve. The company was able to dethrone the American leader from General Motors for the first time in 76 years. But Toyota is opening up new horizons for itself, intending, in particular, to declare itself in the world of robotics.
Recently, a former company executive said that the creation of robots could be the main focus for the company in the next ten years. The main development of Toyota is partner robots. They were created in close cooperation with the Tokyo University of Technology and other companies. Initially, it was planned to create such robots that would help humans in the production of cars. The development took into account the presence of qualities such as agility, physics, intelligence and flexibility. One of the Toyota partners recently showed at his presentation how he can play the violin.
This robot is the most famous concept, whose usefulness is questionable. The company has not yet managed to create such a robot that could replace humans in production. The Japanese company’s focus on robotics is making it also the country's plummeting birth rate. In the future, it may turn out that in Japan there will simply not be enough qualified employees and there will be no one to look after the elderly. So in this regard, the development of partner robots is a promising business.
Today Toyota employs more than 320 thousand people, the company's turnover is more than $ 200 billion, and the net profit is more than 2 billion. The Japanese giant is ranked eighth in the Fortune Global 500 - the world's largest companies. The company owes such success to the business principles laid down in it by the founders and Japanese national traits - hard work, perseverance, desire to learn.