Dr Genichi Taguchi was born in Takamachi, Japan in 1924, a city famous for the kimono industry. It was only natural for him to study textile engineering as he was expected to assume responsibility of the family kimono business.
But in 1942 Taguchi’s draft notice came and between 1942-1945 he served in the Astronomical Department of the Navigational Institute in the Imperial Japanese Navy. After 1945 he worked in the ministry of public Health and Welfare and in the Institute of statistical Mathematics (Ministry of Education). While here he met a prize winning Japanese statistician Prof. Matosaburo Masuyama, who at the time was regarded by many as the best statistician. Under his guidance, Taguchi’s learned much of the use of orthogonal arrays and experimental design techniques. He also contributed to many industrial experiments that dealt with the production of penicillin, and the name Genichi Taguchi gained recognition.
Taguchi Method Example
In 1950, he was hired by the Electrical Communication Laboratory (ECL). During this time, both ECL and Bell Laboratories were developing cross bar and telephone switching systems. Working on the project for ECL provided Taguchi with plenty of opportunities for experimentation and data analysis. Six years later, Taguchi and ECL had completed the systems project. Around the same time, Bell Labs completed its version. Nippon AT&T awarded a contract to ECL, however, for its superior production.
During this period, Taguchi also found time to write Experimental Design and Life Test Analysis and Design of Experiments for Engineers (the result of working in the industry for six years). In 1960, the latter book helped earn him the Deming Prize for his contributions to the field of quality engineering. This is one of Japan’s most prestigious awards.
Two years and a doctorate in science later, Taguchi wrote a second edition of Design of Experiments that introduced industrial research on the signal-to-noise ratio. He left the employ of ECL, but maintained his relationship in a consulting capacity.
After becoming part of the associate research staff of the Japanese Standards Association, Taguchi founded the Quality Research Group. Since 1963, the group has met once a month to discuss industry applications.
In 1962 Kyushu University awarded Taguchi with his PHD. When Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan invited him to teach in 1965, Taguchi said yes–and stayed there for 17 years. Prior to Taguchi’s arrival, the University had no engineering department. Thanks in part to Taguchi, it now does.
Dr. Taguchi developed the concept of the Quality Loss Factor in the early 1970’s; he also published the third (current) edition of Design of Experiments
By the early ’80s, Taguchi was making a name for himself in the United States. Ford Motor Co. had been introduced to Taguchi’s methods via a Ford supplier. Ford was quite interested and Taguchi was invited to provide seminars for Ford executives in 1982. By 1983 he was executive director of the Ford Supplier Institute, Inc. (which would eventually change its name to the American Supplier Institute).
Taguchi received two more awards in 1986. For his outstanding contributions to Japanese economics and industry, he received the Indigo Ribbon from the Emperor of Japan. This was followed by the International Technology Institute’s Willard F. Rockwell Medal for combining engineering and statistical methods to achieve rapid improvements in cost and quality by optimising product design and manufacturing processes.
ASQ is not the only quality organization to bestow honorary membership on Taguchi. In 1995, the Japanese Society of Quality Control honoured him with a like membership.