Student Report: Visit to Toyota Kaikan Museum and Tsutsumi Plant
Christian Parraga and Simon Cook, two students of our MBA program in English, attended a trip to learn more about the company synonymous with Japanese ingenuity, Toyota Motor Corporation.
Christian, from Ecuador, worked as a coordinator in education and as a consultant for IBM before joining the program, and Simon is an HR Director for the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation who hails from the UK.
The following is their report on the experience and their impressions.
Simon: The first stop was the Toyota Kaikan museum where we greeted by a friendly tour guide, who shared with us that this was her first time to escort a group in English! We had around 40 minutes to look around the various Toyota products on display, ranging from a $150,000 convertible Lexus, through to a racing liveried K-car, and the latest in hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid vehicles. The highlight for some of the students was to finally see a real-life e-Palette, something that had taken up a lot of classroom hours in various Toyota-based projects. There was just enough time to visit the museum shop (always a must) before bidding our relieved guide a fond farewell. We got back on the bus and headed to the main event, the Tsutsumi Plant.
Christian: We had the opportunity to visit the Tsutsumi Plant of Toyota Motor Corporation, where we could witness firsthand the Toyota Production System (TPS) in action. The TPS’s creation was inspired by Henry Ford’s ideas from the early years of the last century, and Toyota reinterpreted them and implemented them in their factories in the middle of the 20th century.
Simon: The tour of the plant took us through multiple levels of the factory, highlighting the various different processes, assembly lines, quality checks and supply systems. It was great to see so many of the things we have studied actually in action – kanban, JIT, kaizen, unmanned vehicles and much more.
Christian: I was most impressed by the strategies implemented to make production more efficient, from installing angled platforms allowing gravity to manage some of the burden, to installing doors at the end of the process in order to save time spent by workers walking around the vehicle. So much about the plant evinces inventiveness and excellence, which have become words heavily associated with the brand all over the world.
Simon: The tour of the facility was an amazing experience and is really a testament to the ingenuity of our human race. I would highly recommend others take the trip to gain a greater appreciation of just what goes into the vehicles we see surrounding us.
Christian: During many of our courses, we have read about TPS, but to be able to see it implemented and working before our own eyes was such an invaluable experience. In my opinion, this visit to the Toyota factory provides a clear demonstration of mankind's inventive power.