Exploring the secret of Toyota initiative of textile initiatives
When the meeting being held last year in Nagoya, I have visited the Toyota Museum of Industrial and Technology. Because I’ve been long interested in the role of automobile industries in Japan and Toyota’s unique position of technology development and businesses in it. Regarding the automobile industries, it looks lots of hot issues are popularly discussed these days, like future of automotive industry, environmental measures, technological shifting to electric vehicles, safety and autonomous driving cars, and so on. In this circumstance, visiting the Museum was really good chance to get some clues for me about the technology issues of automobile industry as a whole and its development history in Japan.
It said that Toyota’s Museum was opened in 1994 to to advertise a historical trajectory of Toyota’s business development and introduce technology background of automobile in Japan. And the Museum now become the most attractive facility in Nagoya for learning historical development of mechanical industry of Japan.
As looking at the museum, the exhibition can be divided into three sections. These are first the “Textile Machinery Pavilion” for exhibition of textile machines. then the “Automobile Pavilion” for automobiles, and finally the “Toyota Group Hall” which shows the achievement of the company history. There found that a number of valuable goods related chicaneries are displayed in the redbrick classic building being used as a factory site of Toyota’s former Sakae Plant of Toyota.
Visitors would be overwhelmed with the rich contents of exhibits on the textile and automobile and impressed how Toyota was advancing its technology and business though a century long strong initiatives that cultivated textile machinery industries and then advanced automobiles business until now.
Firstly I’ll start my report with “Textile Pavilion” , then continue to the “Automobile Pavilion” next.
♣ Brief View on the Exhibition of “Textile Pavilion”
As visitor enters the entrance hall, the huge real object of the “Circular Loom” appears in front of us. This is the monumental loom invented by Sakichi Toyota, a founder of Toyota Co. This is an epoch-making machine for Toyota that could be weaving an ultra-wide cloth in the effective way for the first time in Japan. And the machine also shows a clear evidence of evolution of Japan’s mechanical technology when it was predominantly depending on imported Western technology.
When the visitors proceed to the main exhibition hall, “Textile Pavilion” comes next. Here the evolution of textile making tools are introduced from primitive tools to machines, particularly development of spinning machines in Japan from the ancient days to the present stage. In the exhibition, Toyota’s business development process is explicitly reflected in the exhibition. For example, how the company has been advancing from weaving machinery to the automobile industry through using technology of textile machinery.
♣ Exhibition of specified to the Spinning Section
The first corner is about the “Traditional technology of spinning and weaving”.
<Primitive stage of spinning and weaving>
The spinning and weaving tools and its process using manual handcrafts are shown here in which thread is twisted from fibers such as cotton, and it weaves it to make yarn by human hands. The model displays the Japan’s traditional “Koshibata” (the oldest weaving loom with sitting style) and “Jibata” (the loom by sitting style but it has a frame structure in 1600-1800s), as well as traditional spinning wheels in the various style. It also exhibits the “Batten Hand Loom” which was introduced from China and modified it using flying shuttle in the Edo period for weaving “Kyoto Yuzen” fabrics)
But before long in the modernization process after the Meiji period, the mechanization movement began to influence on the weaving and spinning process in the large scale. These revolutionary technology shifts are extensively explained in the exhibition.
<Initial stage of spinning technology and machines>
Actually, Japan’s spinning business had to start with the import of the European technology and much depend on the expensive machines in the industrial mechanization in Meiji. On the other hand, while the development of cotton textiles needed as a major export commodity, the productive textile machines were used in the big state-owned enterprises or large private companies only with limited capacity. In this situation, Japan’s textile industry strongly demanded simple and low-priced machines at that time. For answering these demands, unique manual spinning machine “Garabo” was produced in 1873 by ‘Tatsumune Gaun, who invented it using Japan’s wood-making technology. Then, this wood machine was quickly spread in the textile industrialists throughout the country and became to contribute a lot to promote export textile industry as a whole in Japan. At the museum, this actual machine was displayed in the exhibition corner.
<Development stage of spinning machine since 1900s >
As for the spinning machines, Japan had been predominantly depended on the Western technology until 1900s, but many efforts of modification and improvement were activated by Japanese engineers for leading to produce competitive domestic machines. Among them, Toyota’s initiative was significant.
At the exhibition site, Toyota’s various spinning machinery are placed in line along with many European machines, including the “Super High Draft Ring Spinning Machine “ which eliminated the rolling process never seen previous spinning mechanism. This direct spinning machine was invented by Kiichi Toyoda in 1920s by using Japanese original technology.
In the postwar years since 1945, the fully automatic spinning system were widely adopted and developed originally in Japan owing to progress industrial technology which was cultivated by Japanese engineers beside using European machinery. A large number of spinning machines were exhibited side by side at the exhibition hall. It shows how spinning machines have progressed in technology in Japan, such as high-speed carding engines, drawing frames (1951), fly frame (1951), ring spinning frame (1955), continuous automated spinning system (1960) and others many.
♣ Exhibition of specified to Weaving Machines
<Initial condition of loom technology development>
In this loom exhibition corner, the history of weaving the “cloth” is shown, for example, how loom technology has been transitioned from human hand to power looms, automatic looms, and until latest sophisticated looms which controlled by computer, with providing real machines by each generation.
The first exhibitions here are ancient “Koshibata” and “Jibata” mentioned above. And we can also see a so-called “Battan loom” loom too, which equipped with flying shuttle as a historic exhibit there. This Batten loom was famous for epoch making loom which was brought back from U.K. in 1873 by one overseas trainee and widely used in Japan in the Meiji period.
<Exhibition of Toyota’s development of looms>
After that, a number of original looms were produced in Japan by Japanese textile companies including Toyota Weaving Machine Co. At the weaving corner, many Toyota style looms are exhibited of this period as main features that was developed by Sakichi Toyoda. What being particularly valuable exhibit would be the “G-type automatic loom” which invented by Sakichi in 1924. This loom facilitated a 24 automatic, safety device including non-stop automatic conversion device, which can smoothly replace shuttle without reducing the speed during high-speed operation. This Japan’s unique loom technology is considered as evidence that weaving machine has achieved to world class level until that time. The first unit of G-type machine is designated as a “National Machinery Treasure ” in Japan, and the reproduced machine is displayed at the hall as one of the main exhibits of museum.
<Crest weaving and advanced high-tech looms>>
On the other hand, in Japan, “Sorabiki Bata” (Draw loom) were widely used as a loom machine enables to weave complicated crests or patterns on the thick damask or curtains. For weaving by this machine, two operators, who are sitting at upside and lower side, are required to work together in a synchronized way. This loom was commonly used until just before modern “Jaccard looms” were introduced in Japan which enable automatic control of this type of weaving. At the hall, the both type of crest, Sorabuki and Jaccard weaving machine, are exhibited for the comparison. Furthermore, the series of technological advancement in this crest weaving are displayed in this corner along with current electronically controlled automatic looms which are actually used.
In addition, abundant high-tech real looms are displayed as well at this corner which indicates current technology advancement in the weaving machines, such as “Water jet looms” and “Air jet looms”, computer-controlled picture-drawing looms and others by exemplified Toyota’s latest products.
<Toyota’s initiatives from textile to automobile industry>
According to the explanation, the basic technologies used for developing these spinning and weaving machines, in particular, the sensor and control technology, which was pursued in the automation and safety method adopted by Toyoda loom, looks passing down to the operational spirit which enabled the innovative cultivation of Toyota’s automobile industry in the next stage. Anyway, the technological background and passion for new technology by founders Toyoda Sakichi and Kiichiro seem finally lead to the successful challenge to the automotive development of the company. It seems that The Textile Pavilion of this Toyota memorial Museum realized us these facts in the exhibition. At the next description, I’d look at the situation of “Automobile Pavilion” that indicates what Toyota has cultivated the new technology and the situations Toyota cars present and future in the exhibition.
(Part 1 end)
- トヨタ産業技術記念館自動車館 HP：http://www.tcmit.org/exhibition/car/
- トヨタ自動車75年史 https://www.toyota.co.jp/jpn/company/history/75years/
- 「ものづくりの寓話」和田和夫 （名古屋出版会）
- 「トヨタ生産方式」大野 耐一
- “The Toyota Way” J. K. Liker