Toyota (TM) began operating in North America in the mid-1980s. It currently operates seven automotive plants there, four of which are in the U.S. A fifth plant is under production in Mississippi. Toyota employs 40,000 manufacturing employees in North America.
In addition to the manufacture of cars and trucks, Toyota runs four unit factories in the U.S., where they produce such parts as engines, transmissions and wheels. Toyota also has a wholly owned subsidiary, Bodine Aluminum, an aluminum casting company, which operates three factories in Tennessee and Missouri.
BMW began operations in the U.S. in 1994, when it opened a plant in Spartanburg, S.C. “Some natural hedging was always a part of the long-term strategy, but also we have a corporate strategy of having production follow the market,” says Robert Hitt, BMW’s manager of public affairs. “Our original plan was to have about 2,000 workers here by the year 2000. We are now at 5,400 people here on the site.”
Besides the actual manufacturing of their cars and trucks, Toyota and BMW are using domestic suppliers to provide parts and services for their operations. BMW has over 200 suppliers in North America, 52 of which are located in South Carolina, and 41 of these are new companies started for the purpose of supplying the plant. In South Carolina alone, suppliers of BMW’s Spartanburg plant employ over 14,000 people.
Toyota uses roughly 500 major suppliers in North America. “We’ve always had the philosophy that we should build vehicles where they are sold, so it makes sense to have suppliers close to your manufacturing operations,” says Mike Goss, external affairs manager for Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing division in North America.
Foreign production in the U.S., however, is not limited to the automotive industry…. In fact, almost 1 million Americans get their paychecks from Mexican companies, says Ton Heijmen, senior adviser for outsourcing and offshoring for the Conference Board.
Toyota’s innovations, by contrast, have [focused] on process rather than on product, on the factory floor rather than on the showroom. That has made those innovations hard to see. But it hasn’t made them any less powerful.
At the core of the company’s success is the Toyota Production System, which took shape in the years after the Second World War, when Japan was literally rebuilding itself, and capital and equipment were hard to come by. A Toyota engineer named Taiichi Ohno turned necessity into virtue, coming up with a system to get as much as possible out of every part, every machine, and every worker. The principles were simple, even obvious – do away with waste, have parts arrive precisely when workers need them, fix problems as soon as they arise. And they weren’t even entirely new – Ohno himself cited Henry Ford and American supermarkets as inspirations. But what Toyota has done, better than any other manufacturing company, is turn principle into practice. In some cases, it has done so with inventions, like the andon cord, which any worker can pull to stop the assembly line if he notices a problem, or kanban, a card system that allows workers to signal when new parts are needed.
for Hao Tien, chief information officer (CIO) at Toyota Canada Inc. those two Japanese phrases – Genchi Genbutsu (go and see) and Kaizen (continuous improvement) really capture it all.
the innovation wasn’t in the technology, but in the way the various partners were brought together to agree upon processes, which were then consistently executed. CustomerOne is only project of its kind in the Toyota empire.
A computer system links activities across multiple customer touch points, and analyzes data from the more than 13,000 daily service visits to Toyota dealers across the country. The system flags major repeat problems and Toyota Motor Corp. head office in Japan is informed so engineers can be assigned to make repairs to designs or manufacturing, if necessary.
“For instance if a call comes into us at Toyota Canada, the dealer knows about it. So if they go back to the dealer for services, everyone offers the same resolution of the problem.” In the four years since its launch CustomerOne was has been a runaway success. Tien cites some of the more tangible benefits this initiative has brought about. They include:
* Cutting down the customer problem resolution from weeks to an average of three days through this initiative alone;
* Early detection of customer dissatisfaction in services
* Reducing detection of product defects (from months to days).
The Toyota Canada CIO talks about the tremendous business benefits from this seamless freeflow of information. “When a defect is detected at the dealership, the next day it would up to our engineering department.” The speed at which information traverses is of immense value – especially when new vehicles are launched. Tien cited an example.
“We recently launched a new Toyota Corolla [model]. If there were a problem with a door knob of the vehicle, the plant would know about it and a fix would be put in place.”
Dana Holding Corporation Names Gary L. Convis Chief Executive Officer [the broken link was removed]
Dana Holding Corporation emerged from bankruptcy recently and today announced that it has named Gary L. Convis, 65, to the post of Chief Executive Officer. Convis was appointed to Dana’s new Board of Directors in January 2008 after retiring from Toyota Motor Corporation, where he had spent more than 20 years culminating in his role as Chairman of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky.
“We are delighted to welcome Gary as Chief Executive Officer,” said Dana Executive Chairman John Devine, who had served as the company’s acting CEO since January. “Gary is widely respected as one of the leading experts in lean manufacturing and management systems, including the Toyota Production System. Along with his strong leadership and global industry experience, we believe he is an ideal choice as our new Chief Executive.”
“I am honored by the Board’s confidence in me to lead Dana,” Convis said. “I’m also eager to join with our people in establishing world-class manufacturing systems and returning this great company to the leadership ranks of the global automotive supply industry.” Continue reading →
Toyota is investing $350 million in a second Indian manufacturing plant. The plant is focused on producing vehicles for the local market – as the Toyota Production System suggests that production be close to the market.
The new plant will have a production capacity of 100,000 units and will become operational by 2010, he added. The company’s current plant has a capacity of 63,000 units a year.
The plant will make the Corolla sedans along with the small cars The company plans to have high level of localisation for the small car by procuring several components and sub-systems from Indian vendors. Primarily the car maker plans to sell the small car in the fast growing domestic market, though some will be exported as well, the company stated.
The Japan-based automaker said last year that it plans to capture 10 per cent of India’s market. In 2007 Toyota sales accounted for a mere 0.6 per cent of the Indian car market
From Toyota’s blog, Living Up to Our Commitment (the broken link was removed)
We’ve received reports that on a small number of model-year 1995 to 2000 Tacomas, excessive corrosion of the frame has caused perforation of the metal. The reason for this, it appears, is that the frames of some of the 813,000 vehicles built during this time-frame may not have adequate corrosion protection.
Because of our oft-stated commitment to standing behind our products, we’re extending the rust-perforation warranty covering these trucks for a period of 15 years from each vehicle’s original date of purchase, with no mileage limitation, for corrosion damage that results in perforation of the vehicle’s frame material. Owners of these Tacomas need not be the original owners. Even if you bought your Tacoma second- or third-hand, it’s covered by this extended warranty.
Once again Toyota shows what it means to go beyond the traditional way of thinking (where often MBA bean-counters and lawyers decide what should be done) instead of someone interested in having the company actually live up to a higher mission. From a previous post on their blog:
The Toyota Way is a management philosophy involving 14 principles that is the essence of the DNA of our organization and really all those who make up the company. In its basic form, the Toyota Way boils down to two fundamental practices: Respect for People and Continuous Improvement.
Do corporations exist solely to maximize their bottom lines? We don’t think so. [The broken link was removed]
When Bill Gates suggested recently that corporations should sacrifice profits to the public welfare, practicing what he called “creative capitalism,” he wasn’t the first robber baron with the idea. Henry Ford made a similar proposal in 1916, but he was defeated in court by shareholders who preferred he simply issue dividends. The countervailing view, famously expounded by Milton Friedman, is that the only responsibility of business is to increase profits.
Customers are also demanding products that show a commitment to the public welfare. About 10% of new product introductions are environmentally sensitive–green lightbulbs and cars, for example.
Starbucks pays Ethiopian coffee farmers a 75% premium over market prices, believing this is better than passing out the equivalent in welfare. Pfizer is spending $570 million to develop and deliver treatment in the Third World for fungal infections caused by AIDS. This outlay won’t be recovered in product sales.
They don’t mention the importance of other stakeholder (employees, customers, suppliers – other than the Starbucks example) but still it is nice to read some support for the principles Deming supported: the corporation seeking to benefit all stakeholders.
Jules Verne predicted cars would run on air. The Air Car is making that a reality. The car would be powered by compressed air. Certainly seem like an interesting idea. Air car ready for production:
Refueling is simple and will only take a few minutes. That is, if you live nearby a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately $2.00. If a driver doesn’t have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tank in about 4 hours.
The car is said to have a driving range of 125 miles so by my calculation it would cost about 1.6 cents per mile. A car that gets 31 mpg would use 4 gallons to go 124 miles. At $3 a gallon for gas, the cost is $12 for fuel or about 9.7 cents per mile. I didn’t notice anything about maintenance costs. I don’t see any reason why the Air Car would cost more to maintain than a normal car. Five-seat concept car runs on air
An engineer has promised that within a year he will start selling a car that runs on compressed air, producing no emissions at all in town.
Tata is the only big firm he’ll license to sell the car – and they are limited to India. For the rest of the world he hopes to persuade hundreds of investors to set up their own factories, making the car from 80% locally-sourced materials.
“Imagine we will be able to save all those components traveling the world and all those transporters.” He wants each local factory to sell its own cars to cut out the middle man and he aims for 1% of global sales – about 680,000 per year. Terry Spall from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers says: “I really hope he succeeds. It is a really brave experiment in producing a sustainable car.”
Now does that sound like the Toyota Production System to you? It should. If I were an executive at Toyota I would sure examine this to see if it really is as promising as it looks. And if it is Toyota sure has plenty of cash and the management practice to make a very compelling case for allowing Toyota to produce this globally. The engineers desires closely match what Toyota has learned. Both seek to eliminate the waste of transportation (friction).
With plants in 27 countries, more new factories under construction and workers speaking languages that include Russian and Turkish, Toyota’s top executives are trying a difficult balancing act – replicating the company’s success and operating principles in other countries while ceding more control to these new outposts at the same time.
Next year, it expects to sell more than 10.4 million cars worldwide, double what it sold in 2000.
At Motomachi, more than 3,000 tasks on the assembly line have been translated into video manuals that are displayed on laptop computers above 30 simulated workstations, situated where their functions would be carried out inside the factory.
The videos show everything from the correct way to hold a screw to the best way to hold an air gun so that a worker’s hand will not tire in a few hours. This month, workers from Toyota’s plant in Thailand took part in training required for jobs in their plant’s paint shop. Listening as an interpreter translated from Japanese into Thai, the workers were shown how to bend their knees and spray a water gun across a clear panel of Plexiglas.