Mr. Tomo (Tom) Harada, started working for Toyota in 1964 in the production engineering department. Tom had no graduate school, no technical degree, no specialization and no title. At this time in history, General Motors annual vehicle production was 100 times the volume of Toyota’s annual production. Mr. Taichi Ohno set the first vision and target to be one of the “Big-3” for the Toyota team. In early 1965, Tom moved to the famed “Ohno Plant” known as Kamigo Powertrain. It was there that at this time that Mr. Taiichi Ohno, known today as the father of the modern Toyota Production System or TPS was the plant manager and Director of Toyota.
It was here that Tom started on his journey of Genchi Genbutsu. Assigned to the engineering staff under Ohno’s direction, Tom specialized in the areas of equipment performance and stability. From 1965-1975, the capability of the Kamigo plant increased rapidly, and the plant, and Ohno began to become famous for the production efficiency, quality and technology they were achieving. In 1970-75 Tom was made responsible for the various transmission production lines and from 1975 to 1980 Tom was charged to oversee the “Crown Engine” production line. In the mid-1980s, Tom was tasked to oversee an engine plant launch in Australia. In the latter 1980s, Tom was instrumental in the startup of Toyotas largest overseas engine facility in Georgetown Kentucky. Tom continued his work until 1992, when he started a company to provide specialized equipment and engineering for Toyota that was needed for ongoing global expansion.
In his career with Toyota, “Kamigo Engine Tom” earned the highest respect of the leadership of Toyota and learned and worked under one of the most influential leaders in the history of modern manufacturing. Tom is one of the last living direct connections to Ohno, and his wealth and depth of knowledge in manufacturing is unprecedented. Tom was often regularly dispatched during the course of his career to overseas equipment manufacturing companies for the purpose of studying machine tools and methods It was from the American and Japanese machine tool makers that Tom learned a great deal about machining, and process capabilities. Tom used this knowledge to improve Toyota equipment uptime, scrap, and reliability metric performance. He was also instrumental in helping to improve Japanese equipment and manufacturing technologies such that they eventually exceeded western capabilities.
In 1998, Dave, Tom, and John Shook first met, at Delphi Automotive, and have worked together now for more than 20 years. Indeed Ohno’s Hoshin and goal was on target – as of today, Toyota is number 1 in vehicle production globally.