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Old 26th June 2013, 12:20   #1
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Default The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles

As I walked into the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology near Nagoya (Japan), I had the usual expectations. I expected to learn how the founder started the car company, how they built the first car, their evolution over time, etc. But I least expected this... a Japanese girl showing off Mahatma Gandhi's Charkha or spinning wheel.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210019.jpg

A bit shocking for the first time visitor, but this is exactly how Toyota wants to showcase their history. Japanese have a deep sense of history, and it shows in how they maintain their ancient castles, temples, and even ancient restaurants. Even though, every one of their castles were destroyed in the bombing during the second world war, they have rebuilt most of them to their original specification just to honour their history. It is in this backdrop we have to see how Toyota was founded. As a history buff and certifiable Japanophile, I enjoyed this part... but I digress.

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Old 26th June 2013, 12:20   #2
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Until the later part of 16th century, Japan was mired with constant civil war. The emperor was a titular head, and had no power. The country was ruled by hundreds of Feudal lords, who were constantly making war, alliances and betrayals. This situation was made worse by the introduction of firearms to Japan by the Portuguese traders. However, by the supreme efforts of three men, namely Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan was finally unified at the beginning of 17th century. And Tokugawa Ieyasu became the supreme ruler (Shogun) of Japan. Since Tokugawa had seen the ill-effects of foreign influences like guns and religious evangelism, he threw out all foreigners and closed the country to the outside world. The Tokugawa Shogunate lasted until 1867, when the American Navy forced Japan to open their country for trade. It was around this time that the Japanese realised that they were totally outdated in the post-industrial revolution world. At the end of the Shogunate rule, the emperor came back to power, and started massive efforts to industrialize Japan. This process was called the Meiji Restoration. The events in the movie The Last Samurai were from this period.

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Old 26th June 2013, 12:20   #3
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The year 1867, also marked another event. The birth of Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Group. Thus he grew up in a time when the entire country was making a giant leap from pre-industrial to an industrial world. The local cottage industry was garment weaving and it was there that he made his first mark.

In the late 19th century Japan, cotton garments were made using hand operated looms like this.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210025.jpg

At the age of 23, Sakichi Toyoda created a much improved version of this hand loom. Before you can appreciate his innovation, you need to understand how a loom works. Do ensure you watch this 1 minute video, as it explains the basics very clearly.


Now let’s see a fully manual loom in action. You can see that the ladies are doing three of the motions, (i) Shedding is done by moving the foot operated heddle (ii) Insertion is done using the right hand, that is the jerking the wires left and right alternatively. You can see the rapidly moving fly shuttle in the first 20 seconds of the video. (iii) The beat-up is done using the left hand.



Further, we need to understand a little about fly shuttle. This is one of the most important inventions that fueled the industrial revolution, and it is still used. It is the fly shuttle that does lateral insertion of the yarn (thread) across the interleaved yarn. Prior to the shuttle, one could not make a cloth wider than the length of the arm.

The following two videos should explain how fly shuttle works, and how thread is filled inside the shuttle.





Now that we understand the purpose and operation of the shuttle, we can understand the innovation of Sakichi Toyoda. This is the Toyoda Wooden hand loom machine invented in 1890. Here the machine could move the fly shuttle automatically without needing any input from the operator. The two wooden arms on each side of the loom push the fly shuttle across when the pedals operated the heddle, the part that does the shedding.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210027.jpg

And it is still functional.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210042.jpg

The video of its operation. Just one hand needed.


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Old 26th June 2013, 12:20   #4
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However, this invention hardly sold. So he continued his research and in 1896 he created a steam driven power loom. This was Japanís first power loom and it started selling like hot cakes.

As the speed of the operation improved with the power loom, new problems arose. The quality of thread became critical for smooth operation of the power looms. Therefore, Sakichi Toyoda had to turn his eyes towards high quality thread production.

Letís consider this for a moment. In nature, there is nothing like pure cotton. When it is picked up from the cotton fields, it has seeds and lot of impurities.

The seeds have to be removed.



And the impurities have to be removed using willowing bow.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210011.jpg



Once the cotton is pure, it can be drawn into a thread like this.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210017.jpg

With hands you can only pull up to your arm span width. This is where the Charkha made famous by Mahatma Gandhi becomes useful.



It was a bit weird to have bunch of Indians getting a lesson on Charkha by a Japanese girl in Japan. But I have to confess that this is the first working Charkha I saw in person. While Gandhiís idea of spinning wheel was symbolic, it is clear that producing one thread at a time is not very productive.

How about 30 threads at time, isnít that more productive?

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210021.jpg



Then why not 140 threads at a time?

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210023.jpg

That too powered by a watermill.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210024.jpg

Now enter the modern machines.

The scutcher and lap machine that produces pure cotton suitable for making yarn.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210032.jpg

Next comes 3 different machines that convert the cotton to different types of threads.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210034.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210035.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210037.jpg

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Old 26th June 2013, 12:20   #5
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Here I have to mention something about the presenters at the museum. Not only they were polite and cheerful, they were bubbling with enthusiasm about the machines they were showing off. They were perfect evangelists, they would ensure we understood the purpose and appreciate the output of the machines they were showing off. All this despite the language barrier.

Here the presenter is ensuring each of us feel the thread, at least this fellow knew passable English.



Next was this presenter, who knew no English, but was very determined to make sure we understand the improvements Toyota has made to the fly shuttle, so that multiple fly shuttles can be stacked into the loom. He succeeded!

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210044.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210046.jpg

Then he wanted us to see how it worked with the machine, and did I mention he was very adamant about us noticing every little detail? Well, I didnít understand his behavior at that time. However, while researching for this report, it finally dawned on me.

This is the Non-Stop Shuttle Change Toyoda Automatic Loom, Type G, perfected in 1924. It was the most modern power loom of that time. In 1929, Platt Brothers and Co. of UK bought the patent for this machine for 100,000 british pounds. During this business transaction, Sakichi Toyoda visited both Europe and USA, and saw the emergence of automobile industry. The money he made by selling the Type G patent, became the seed money for starting a car company, which is now the largest car company in the world. See the connection?

The Type G in action.




Now we started looking at some really modern power looms.

The rapier loom where the fly shuttle can shuttle 550 times a minute.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210048.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210049.jpg



The water jet power loom

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210053.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210055.jpg



We often saw this board next to many looms, unimaginable in India museums.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210051.jpg

At this point I became quite intrigued and incredulous, and asked the presenter, ďDo you mean Toyota still makes power looms?Ē She said YES with a big smile and took us to the most modern power loom. Here you could feed the cloth design from a computer.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210058.jpg



And this was the end of power loom wing. Next we walked over to the automobile wing.

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Old 26th June 2013, 12:21   #6
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It begins with the most important year for Toyota, the year they got the seed capital and the idea for automobile business.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p52100611.jpg

This is the time when Kiichiro Toyoda, the son of Sakichi Toyoda started researching the automobile technology. The automobile division was started in 1933 as a division under the power loom company. Being from a research and development company, they started development from scratch. That means they didnít just get a licence from somebody and start producing cars. This becomes apparent within first few minutes of entering the automobile wing of the museum.

Instead of seeing cars, we start by seeing material testing equipment.

The impact testing machine.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210062.jpg

The hardness testing machines.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210063.jpg

The electron microscopes.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210064.jpg
The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210065.jpg

The next long display was about how the first Toyota car, model AA was made.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210067.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210068.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210069.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210070.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210072.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210073.jpg

The finished product

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210117.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210118.jpg

The logo during the creation of model AA sedan, which was launched in 1936.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210078.jpg

However, in 1937 the automobile division was spun off into a separate company and the name was changed to Toyota. Thus was born Toyota Motor Company Limited.

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Old 26th June 2013, 12:21   #7
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The next set of exhibits were about teaching automobile technology to the visitors. There were no presenters at this wing. Most models were interactive and could be operated by pressing a button. The recorded message in Japanese will explain the working of the part.

A car without the body.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210079.jpg





The working model of an engine

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210087.jpg



The working model of a clutch.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210085.jpg



The cross section of a gearbox.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210086.jpg

The A type gasoline engine made by Toyota for the Model AA sedan in 1935.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210091.jpg

The S type gasoline engine made by Toyota in 1947.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210092.jpg

Toyotaís first diesel engine, the D type. Developed for trucks and buses.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210098.jpg
The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210097.jpg

Some of the following are self explanatory.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210101.jpg The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210100.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210103.jpgThe Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210102.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210106.jpgThe Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210105.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210108.jpgThe Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210107.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210110.jpgThe Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210109.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210112.jpgThe Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210111.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210123.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210121.jpg The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210122.jpg The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210120.jpg

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Old 26th June 2013, 12:21   #8
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The general car display area.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210077.jpg

Some of the interesting Toyota Cars on display.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210124.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210126.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210128.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210130.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210131.jpg

The 1997 Prius, the first production hybrid car in the world.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210139.jpg

The Prius PHV, showcasing the latest hybrid technology.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210133.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210134.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210136.jpg

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210137.jpg

As we walked out, we said farewell to the Toyota Partner Robot. Google it if you want to know more.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210140.jpg

The Toyota Museum is housed in the original Toyoda power loom factory. A beautiful way to preserve the company heritage buildings.

The Toyota Story : From Handlooms to Automobiles-p5210005.jpg

In conclusion, I have to say it was a very different experience than expected. If I had only visited the automobile wing, I would have snapped a few shots, but not bothered with a full report. But Toyota museum starts off with the power loom exhibits, staffed by highly dedicated presenters who drilled the entire process of garment production into us. They showed us how one manís R&D ingenuity created an innovative world class power loom company. And how that innovation culture was channeled into a completely unrelated industry like automobiles, ultimately creating the largest car company in the world. That is a story worth reporting.


Disclaimer : Toyota Motor Corporation invited Team-BHP to Japan for this event (Toyota Hybrid Technology: Drive & Experience @ Japan). They covered all the travel expenses.

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Old 26th June 2013, 12:45   #9
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Fantastic report Samurai!

I particularly enjoyed the first 3 posts. Not only is it very different from every other auto-museum thread, but i also learned a lot about looms (something that i probably wouldn't have bothered to do otherwise).

Loved the wooden section model of the Model AA, used for shaping and fitting the body panels.

cya
R
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Old 26th June 2013, 13:11   #10
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Great write up! When I saw the title, I assumed its going to be talking more about automobiles and their evolution and less about power looms. It was a news to me that Toyoto were into looms first and automobiles next. Thank you Samurai for the history lesson and the awesome narrative.

How many of our Indian companies would be ready to preserve & showcase their humble beginnings once they have got into the uber-rich category?
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Old 26th June 2013, 13:35   #11
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This is a great write up Samurai! More fabulous part of this is hand loom history. I especially reckon that part having experienced it closely. The place called Ichalkaranji is close-by from where i spent my childhood. It was once known as our very own manchester. Now with all cooperative society culture, those handloom shuttles are rare to be seen! And you know what, every time in summer i went to my aunt's place in ichalkaranhi, we used to have fun at their hand loom factory! Those shuttles and the plastic cone/ rod inside it used to be our target to use as toys! Good old days.

Thanks for refreshing those old memories and breathtaking history of Toyota!
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Old 26th June 2013, 13:44   #12
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Hi Samurai,

Nice report.

But how did Toyoda become Toyota!!!!

Hope there was no numerology involved in this
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Old 26th June 2013, 13:48   #13
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Appreciate and thanks Samurai, for excellent report about Toyota's success story. The pictures and narrative was very interesting and love to hear more in future.

Would love to see similar stories from other Japanese automobile makers like: Nissan Datsun, Mitshubishi, Honda, Mazda, etc. Toyota Corolla, Cressida, Camry dominated market in KSA. Corolla and Daihatsu Charmant
have similar spare parts. Datsun 180 bluebird were common in 1980's, Mazda 929 were successful cars in Middle East. Yamaha also have interesting beginning from Musical instruments to Motorcycles.

Cheers!
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Old 26th June 2013, 15:10   #14
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Cool write up, and actually am guilty of skipping the looms to jum straight into the automobile section.
Any more pics of 70s, 80s cars on display. they are my fav....
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Old 26th June 2013, 15:34   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roshan_cruise View Post
But how did Toyoda become Toyota!!!!

Hope there was no numerology involved in this
Actually, there was. It is a pretty long story by itself, so I left it out of this report.

You can check this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8534294.stm

Quote:
Originally Posted by DicKy View Post
Cool write up, and actually am guilty of skipping the looms to jum straight into the automobile section.
Any more pics of 70s, 80s cars on display. they are my fav....
If you skipped the looms, you missed the entire story. About 90% of effort in writing this story went towards that. The Toyota museum is mostly about the looms and less about cars.
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