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Touichirou Araki

The final person I had to mention as potential books Ohno read to develop Standardized Work and Toyota Production System, I have to mention about Touichirou Araki.

He is on this list because, in 1931, he wrote a book called “Ford System.”

He also claims that he is the one who implemented the first “Takt system” in Japan.

He was definitely a unique character.

Why Araki?

In 1931, Araki wrote a book called “Ford System.” As we know, Taiichi Ohno and Toyota have studied Ford. Inside “Toyota Production System (1978),” a full chapter is dedicated to Ford System. And Araki is one of the first people to introduce this system in Japan.

Araki was a chemical engineer focused on rubber. As he entered the business, his company lost the competition against the Americans. This loss made him travel to the USA to understand what made the difference. Eventually, he discovered that Japan was missing “Scientific Management.” He applied for a job in Ohio, a factory that supplied automobile tires, to experience “Scientific Management.” Then he studied class at MIT. While traveling to Boston and back to Japan, he visited many factories.

Araki’s “Ford System”

Araki described the “Ford System” had four efficiency pillars. Those four pillars are;

  1. Material

  2. Labor

  3. Machine

  4. Management & Organizations

In the material section, he describes the following;

“The maximum efficiency of materials can be accomplished when the necessary quantity of materials arrive at the necessary timing at the necessary location.”

Hmm… this sounds like Just In Time almost twenty years later…

In the machine section, he mainly talks about the conveyor system. But also mentions that based on cost reduction, “daily invention and Kaizen of machines and tools are done.”

In the end, this book is about promoting “Scientific Management.” For example, He blames Ford himself for breaking some functional organizations. Ford worked cross-functionally to get things done, and Araki described him as a “dictator.”

Araki’s “Takt System”

Another interesting thing he claims is that he thinks he is the first to implement the “Takt system.” “Takt” is German, and German brought this system to Mitsubishi, Japan. But, according to him, Mitsubishi (and others) did not implement such a radical system. As a result, he implemented it first at Kawasaki Airplane.

But what he meant by “Takt” is unclear. He called this flow production. And the majority of his discussion is about how to divide the airplane into modular (It’s like today’s Tesla discussion.). It is not about dividing available time by the necessary quantity. His focus is more on flow and modular.

At least Araki was using the word “Takt” frequently. Araki explains many examples of the Takt system he has implemented. The one closest to Toyota is the maintenance facility of Nagoya Railways (Meitetsu) at Narumi, the local lines in Aichi, including Toyota City and Kariya. He implemented a facility where the maintenance of train vehicles was done as the vehicle slowly moved through each station. The takt was one day per cargo. There were seven stations, and each focused on one functionality. This facility is already closed, and not sure if the company kept a similar system in the new one.

(BTW, Meitetsu’s Nagoya station is considered one of the most complex. Please try if you have guts.)

At least Araki was the early user and promoter of the word “Takt” in Japan.

Araki’s Method

So, what was Araki’s method?

It’s hard to summarize this since he was very unique. He first became famous in Japan when he broke the record for traveling worldwide in 1928. He claims that his success came from applying “Scientific Management.”

One of Araki’s students recalls a conversation with a senior person who knew Araki. “Araki-san had this capability to cut into the genba and improve. I understand many statistical presentations, but Araki solved problems rapidly one by one. Why you don’t present such thinking?”

Araki acknowledges that his teachings are not theoretical. His book is full of cases with diagrams with pictures. Some layouts look like “U-shape” cells. His repeated message was that business has no sanctuary, and all functions need to improve (Many of his projects are sales related).

Today, many organizations in Japan teach “efficiency,” such as Japan Management Association. When you research the founding organizations, you will find Araki’s involvement. (Ueno and Inoue, too) This flow connects to some Japanese figures in “Lean,” such as Singo and Imai.

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