Toyota Case Study

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1. As Doug Friesen, what would you do to address the seat problem? Where would you focus your attention and solution efforts? What options exist that you would recommend? Why?

Based on recent quality data findings and a production floor inspection by top management, the rear seat issue has been isolated to the plastic hook, which is brittle and at times cracks during installation. The Camry’s seats and hook component parts are single sourced from the KFS Company, headquartered nearby TMM’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant. Firstly, since Toyota is completely dependent on KFS to produce high quality Camry vehicles, Doug Friesen should immediately bring KFS’s senior leadership team on-site to inspect the production process and rear seat issues together. Exhibit 8 (Defect Pareto) indicates that the top two issues recorded are “Missing Part” or “Material Flaw”. Next, TMM & KFS management should review Quality Control’s records to verify if the KFS’s rear seat hooks were properly load tested for TMM’s seat assembly installation process during parts qualification or new product introduction. The recent high defect rate suggests serious durability issues and quality issues outside of performance specifications. TMM needs to evaluate KFS’s 2nd and 3rd tier hook raw material suppliers. Additionally, Doug should also ask probing questions to further understand TMM’s Engineering Change Request (ECR) process. Final 2 Group leader Shirley Sargent submitted an ECR request to switch from plastic to metal hooks months ago based on quality findings. The request went unanswered – an apparent gap in the system. Lastly, it is also important to note the timing of these problems, which started occurring after the introduction of 18 seat style variations (March 1992). The problems did not occur in Japan where the process was “copied exact”, suggesting that the problem is Regional and model specific, which needs further analysis. Friesen’s options are:

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