Mia Cabello / The Paisano
“If we can see a problem, we can fix it,” said Kyogo “Kurt” Onoue, the corporate adviser of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, Inc. Onoue, who has worked at Toyota for 29 years, gave a lecture on the Toyota Production System (TPS) on Oct. 30.
UTSA’s East Asia Institute, Center for Professional Excellence, Center for Student Professional Development and the Office of International Business Programs hosted the event.
Onoue’s lecture focused on how TPS visualizes technological and manufacturing problems and fixes them as soon as possible.
Some of these problems are referred to as “MUDA,” or waste. Toyota has seven types of MUDA including inventory, motion and overproduction.
To eliminate MUDA, Toyota implements “Jidoka” and “Just-in-time,” two pillars of work ethic and longevity that support TPS. Onoue explained “Jidoka” as “automation with a human touch,” the concept of producing “goods without defects with a small number of staff.” “Just-in-time,” Onoue said, refers to how Toyota only produces “the amount needed when needed.”
Onoue showed a 15-minute video that explained how Toyota executes principles using methods such as Kanban cards, which allow employees to show when a part is needed. Employees fill out the cards each time they use a part. The cards are then collected, and new parts are created for each part that was used. Commenting on the informative quality of the video, Onoue joked, “Maybe I don’t have to talk anymore.”
As explained by the video, “Traditionally, parts were made whether they were needed or not.” However, with Toyota’s system, the company saves money by not producing excess parts.
Toyota first began practicing these concepts in the early days of the company, Onoue explained, since the company had no spare money to waste on extra parts.
At that time, according to the video, the “U.S. was eight times more productive,” and Toyota, along with most of Japan, had limited resources.
The lecture, which Onoue said was condensed from a 4-hour lecture he usually gives to Toyota employees, lasted a little less than an hour and ended with a question-and-answer session.
The event was marketed mainly to business and engineering students who were offered extra credit for some of their classes.
However, some, like members of the Japanese speaking club and Guy Ciancia, a junior political science student, came to “learn about Japanese culture.” According to Erina Romanowich, the program coordinator of the East Asia Institute, this was the entire purpose of the event.
“Our office wanted to invite someone who could talk about Japanese culture or something about Japan. We looked around the Internet, but we couldn’t find anyone to meet our needs,” said Romanowich. “Then, we thought, ‘Wait – we have Toyota in town, so why don’t we ask them to have a lecture at UTSA?’”
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, Inc., which is based in San Antonio, was founded in 2003.
According to Onoue, it produces about 239,000 Tacoma and Tundra trucks every year – one truck every 62 seconds.