Way back in the 1930s, when Toyota started its first manufacturing of automobiles in Japan, people respected those who used their hands to create products. In fact, experienced craftsmen used to be called Gods, the ones who can create anything they want.
The phase of these Gods, also called ‘Kami-Sama’ in Japanese, in making a massive comeback, especially now, when robots, machines and automation are taking control of the manufacturing of every product.
And leading the charge is Toyota, based out of Japan, a country which has right now 309,400 operating robots, which is highest in the world.
Anti-Automation Movement Ignited By Toyota
Across their factories in Japan, Toyota has started a manual manufacturing movement, wherein they have created around 100 manual intensive workplaces, in the last three years.
In these manual workplaces, humans are replacing robots to perform tasks related to automobile manufacturing, such as hammering metal into crankshafts, manually performing metallurgy operations such as creating alloys, casting, forging and more.
In some factories such as Honsha plant in Japan, Toyota is asking humans to manually manufacture entire axle beams and override machines for creating parts of chassis, which has been traditionally done by machines since decades.
As per Mitsuru Kawai, who is the new head of Toyota’s production lines: “We need to become more solid and get back to basics, to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them”, adding, “We cannot simply depend on the machines that only repeat the same task over and over again.”
Traditionally, humans in a modern factory are mainly used to feed parts into machines and oversee that everything is working fine. But with Toyota’s new vision of anti-automation, humans are doing what machines used to do, in order to introduce that craftsmanship back in the business.
Kawai further said, “To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.”
And The Results Are Fascinating!
Ever since humans replaced machines in some Toyota factories, the results have been surprisingly good.
For instance, in one factory, waste generated from crankshaft production has been reduced by 10%, due to which, costs of several automobile parts have come down.
As per Kawai, and other experts from Toyota having decades of experience in manufacturing and production, the issue with machines is that they don’t evolve on their own. All they can do is execute the instructions fed.
Kawai says, “If there is ever a technology that’s flawless and could always make perfect products, then we will be ready and willing to install that machine. There’s no machine that is eternally stable.”
Of course machines won’t go away so soon. For instance in Toyota’s Motomachi plant, 760 robots are right now performing 96% of all tasks inside the production line, but slowly and gradually, humans are again taking over the tasks, in some niche areas.
Will it slowly become a trend worldwide? Do share your views by commenting right here!
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