“When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything” said Toyota's Mitsuru Kawai as apart of his explanation of why robots are being laid off in favor of squishy humans in Toyota manufacturing plants. “We need to become more solid and get back to basics, to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them,”
“Toyota views their people who work in a plant like this as craftsmen who need to continue to refine their art and skill level. In almost every company you would visit, the workers’ jobs are to feed parts into a machine and call somebody for help when it breaks down,” said Jeff Liker, who has written eight book on Toyota, and saw the changes in the plants first hand last year.
Machines that bolt things together can't learn everything about how cars are made, they can't file suggestions on how to improve the manufacturing processes, and they can't become more capable than they already are. If the low level positions are filled by robots, there's no pool to recruit from for the higher level positions. We think that while this move may cost Toyota a little more money in the short term, in the long term it will definitely be good for hte company's health.