When we think of Japan and industry, one of the first images that comes to mind is that of a clean and efficient robot assembly line. We love to think of Japan as a heavily modernized country that has been producing things like this for many years, but this was not always the case. Visitors to the city of Nagoya can visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, a museum established in 1994 by the Toyota corporation as a showcase of the company’s history in manufacturing and technology. The central message of the museum is the importance of monozukuri, or “making things”. In creating things, individuals and groups are able to maintain a spirit of studiousness and creativity, which enabled Toyota to continue developing and innovating technology. As you tour the museum, you can see these philosophies in action through the changes and development such as textile looms and car engines. Here are some of the main things to look out for if you’re visiting this interesting section of Japan’s history.
Learn about the early history of Toyota’s automation with this vast pavilion floor of textile looms. Before Toyata began producing cars, they were a textile firm, trying to develop automated looms in order to better grow as a company. In a period spanning over a decade before Toyota produced its first automobile, the firm pioneered many techniques in automated manufacturing, such as jidoka, which stipulates that if an automated process encounters a problem, it will stop, rather than continuing to produce. Visitors walking through this pavilion can observe how textile processes have changed over the 20th century, and how advances made here inspired Toyota to begin producing automobiles.
In the Automobile Pavilion, you can observe a wide array of vehicle designs and technology that Toyota has produced over the years. Various areas of automobile design, such as chassis builds and passenger safety can be examined here. If you’re interested in automobiles, this space can be a great spot to visit if you want to see how automobiles have developed over the 20th century. Personally, I enjoyed looking at the various car models, as it not only gave me an idea of what the needs of consumers in the past were, but also how far automobile manufacturers were willing to go in their creative pursuits of designing a car.
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In the Production Technology Area, you can learn about how automated car production has changed and advance during the 20th century, adapting to new needs and challenges. Even though we think of automated production as an “easy” process, the displays here challenge that notion by showing just how much thought and attention must be put into these processes. You can even observe a dynamic exhibit showcasing the automated welding process as an example of just one of the actions needed to construct a modern car.
As you might expect from a company which has focused on the automation of the assembly line, Toyota has also developed several robots which utilize the articulation and movement of the machines used to assemble automobiles. This group of robots, called the Partner Robots, debuted in 2005 as a group of musical robots utilizing various joints in their performance. For robots, improving articulation and mobility has been a major goal in recent years, as this increases the possibilities of functions for them to perform. The Toyota Partner Robot band is an amusing sight, but also a promise of what the future can hold for humanity and technology together.