‘Father’ of lean manufacturing dies aged 100

toyoda300The man regarded by many as the father of lean manufacturing has died, aged 100.

Eiji Toyoda (pictured), who remained an honorary adviser at Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) where he began his career on the shop floor, is widely credited as the man who added the qualities of continuous improvement and innovation to the mass production techniques he discovered at Ford in America.

A statement from TMC said: “We mourn the loss of automotive pioneer Eiji Toyoda whose contribution and leadership helped make Toyota what it is today.”

Mr Toyoda was born September 12, 1913 and graduated from Tokyo University with a degree in mechanical engineering before joining Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in 1936. A year later he moved to the company’s newly established automotive subsidiary, that is now TMC.

He spent his early career in manufacturing operations and supervising activities on the shop floor, such as machining work and participating in production planning. A director at Toyota since 1945, he remained in the manufacturing side of the company’s operations and when the Toyota production and marketing organisations were merged in 1982, Mr Toyoda assumed the chairmanship of the board. He served until 1992, and then served as honorary chairman from 1992 to 1999. He became honorary advisor of TMC in 1999.

Numerous decorations and honours were bestowed on him during an illustrious career, including his induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame, Michigan.

This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.

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About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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