Taiichi Ohno

Inducted 2022

1912 - 1990

Taiichi Ohno, an engineer and former Toyota executive, conceived and launched the fabled Toyota Production System (TPS). TPS facilitates the production of high-quality goods in the quickest and most efficient way possible. The concept revolutionized the Japanese automotive industry, as well as manufacturing systems around the world. 

Ohno graduated from Nagoya Higher Technical School (now called Nagoya Institute of Technology) in 1932 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Upon graduation, he was hired at Toyoda Automatic Loom Works Ltd. (Now called Toyota Industries Corporation). Ohno moved to the Toyota Motor Company in 1943. Three years later he was promoted to manage Machine Shop #2 and #3 at the Koromo Plant.  

In 1948, alongside Eiji Toyoda, he first started working on ideas to increase productivity and reduce wasted resources. TPS builds off the philosophy of Just-in-Time (JIT) production, created by the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda, and his son Kiichiro Toyoda. They believed that the best way to gather parts for products, was to get them “Just-in-Time.” This practice was first put into place by Toyoda while producing automatic looms. 

Use of JIT within the Toyota Production System means that individual cars can be built to order and that every component must perfectly fit the first time because there are no alternatives available. It is therefore impossible to hide pre-existing manufacturing issues; they must be addressed immediately. The system requires parts to arrive on the assembly line only when it is time for their installation, reducing the need for storage, and making factories smaller and cheaper to operate.  

TPS is supported by two conceptual pillars: 

  • Just-in-Time: Making only what is needed, in the amount it is needed, when it is needed. No wasted time or surplus of materials.  
  • Jidoka: Loosely translated to “automation with a human touch.” Machines detect their own inconsistencies/mistakes, shutting down production, alerting the supervisor of the error with an “Andon” signal. This process prevents defective products from ever being produced.  

Ohno was named executive vice president of Toyota in 1975. After resigning in 1978, Ohno remained a consultant for the company until 1982. He wrote three widely read books: Toyota Production System (1978), Workplace Management (1983), and Just-in-Time for Today and Tomorrow (1986) 

Ohno’s career was defined by his work training employees and suppliers on his revolutionary manufacturing philosophy. 

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Taiichi Ohno was born in Dailan, China


Ohno graduated from Nagoya Higher Technical School and started working for Toyoda Automatic Loom Works Ltd.


Transferred to the Toyota Motor Company


Promoted to machine shop manager for shop #2 and #3, where he started developing TPS


Promoted to plant general manager for Machining Operations at Koromo Plant


Promoted to member of the Board of Directors at the Toyota Motor Company


Ohno visited the United States for the first time


Assigned to plant general manager at the Motomachi Plant


Promoted to managing director


Promoted to senior managing director


Awarded Medal with Blue Ribbon by Cabinet Office of Japan


Received a Distinguished Service Award by the Minister of the Ministry of Labor (Currently the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)


Promoted to executive vice president


Resigned from his position at Toyota and appointed senior manager


Published his first book, Toyota Production System


Awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by Cabinet Office of Japan


Published his second book, Workplace Management


Published his third and final book, Just-in-Time for Today and Tomorrow


Taiichi Ohno passed away at the age of 78

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Class of 2022

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