Toyota Motor Manufacturing, USA, Inc Case Analysis
* Main and sub ideas of the case.
The main topic of the case was the problems caused by defective or damaged seats. TMM USA's seat problem was threefold. The first was the actual defects with the hooks and the damaged caused by cross threading by employees when installing the seats. This problem led to the second problem, which was the departure from the Toyota Production System (TPS) when dealing with the seat problem. Rather than fix the problem with the seat when it happened, they continued with the car's production and worried about the seat afterwards. And this led to the third problem, a build up of cars with seat problems in the off-line operation area.
In reading the case I noticed three subtopics. They were the use of TPS in TMM USA, the problems caused by the increase in the Camry seat options and the taking on of all the wagon productions for TMM, and relationship between TMM USA and its seat supplier Kentucky Framed Seats (KFS).
* Toyota Motor Manufacturing (TMM), USA, Inc background.
In 1988 TMM Japan began production on a new plant located in the US. The plant was modeled after the Tsutsumi plant and was to replace the majority of the Camrys that were being imported from Japan. As part of its setup the Tsutsumi production line was copied and employees were trained in the TPS process. TPS is based on reducing costs through the elimination of waste. TPS relied on two themes Just-In-Time (JIT) and jidoka. JIT means that new parts are produced only when needed. Jidoka is the stopping of production when a problem is noticed and fixing it then and there. TMM USA implemented these methodologies throughout its operation departments. TMM USA also had a remarkable relationship with its seat supplier, in which the production of the seats followed a pull system methodology. This meant that KFS did not produce any seats until TMM USA requested them. With KFS only 30 minutes away from TMM USA there was very little delay in the request for a seat and its arrival at TMM USA. Everything was working smoothly until new options were added for the Camry's seats and the TMM USA plant was made responsible for the production of all of TMM wagon production.
* Critical discussion of the relevant problem.
Ø As Doug Friesen, what would you do to address the seat problem? Where would you focus your attention and solution efforts?
The first thing Mr. Friesen should do is to determine if the process used to solve problems with defective seats is the best method to use, especially since it does not follow the TPS method of stopping production, figuring out why the problem happened and how to prevent it from happening again, fixing the defect, and restarting production. He should begin by mapping-out how the seat problem is currently being handled. The process works like this: 1. a team member would notice a problem and then stop production and report it before installing the seat; 2. the team leader would then tag the car to alert QC of the problem and restart production; 3. the car then went through the rest of production as usual; 4. next the car was moved to the Code 1 clinic area to see if the problem could be fixed immediately; 5. if it could be fixed immediately it was, otherwise the car was moved to the overflow lot and a new seat was ordered. There were several reasons given for making this deviation from TPS. They were: 1. the problem was already known by the assembly team; 2. building the car without the seat assembly was easy to do; and 3. it was believed that stopping production long enough to obtain the new seat was too expensive (stoppage of one car worth $18500 for 57 seconds would cost approximately $3415 and currently it takes 30 minutes to produce a seat). The next issue that he should look at is why these cars were sitting in the overflow lot for so long. KFS was making special deliveries of new seats twice a day to replace the defective seats, but...
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