Production Management of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, USA


Read the case material of Toyota Motor Manufacturing. Toyota is well known for Just-In-Time production, but this is only a building block of the larger production philosophy that it calls the Toyota Production System (TPS). In this case, we will see what TPS is about and how it applies to a specific problem. On 1 May 1992, Doug Friesen, manager of assembly at the company’s Georgetown, Kentucky Plant, is concerned about problems with seat installation and wonders how best to resolve them and to which he should give the highest priority. With sales approaching plant capacity, it is crucial that Friesen choose the most effective path in light of TPS and the realities of the plant organization.Submit a report of your case study. In the report, you should try to answer the following questions


Question 1

As Doug Friesen, what would you do to address the seat problem? Where would you focus your attention and solution efforts?

As a Doug Friesen , I will learn all the situation from key people who are connected to assembly line to supplier. I will spend more time with the managers of TMM and managers of KFS and review Toyota Production System (TPS).
I focus my attention on ‘Five Whys’ exercise which helps in identifying root cause.I would focus on establishing quality with the help of Andon Pulls. I called a meeting with group leaders to take preventive measure to stop the occurrence of the problem and the team leaders to respond rapidly.Major focus rely on the overflow parking area.

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Question 2

What options exist? What would you recommend? Why?

There are many options like Andon pulls, Assembly operations, Production control, Quality control, purchasing with all these factors .We also have just-in-time, jidoka, Heijunka, Kanban cards, Replacement seat.
I would recommend QUALITY CONTROL because  the department of quality control always seeked to attain goal by setting quality standards. Quality Control inspected vehicle as per  customer experience. Quality Control engineers are called by assembly group leader  to solve out assembly control problems . QC provided quick feedback so that operations could flow easily til final assembly. QC had a unique function i.e. proactive which helped in  preventing problem in the first occurrence.
Quality control department coordinated with production control deptt. for  the delivery of material on time and quality problem directly with  suppliers of parts.

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Question 3

Where, if at all, does the current routine for handling defective seats deviate from the principles of the Toyota Production System?

Toyota Production System had an intention to reduce cost by eliminating waste. TPS provided two principles to identifying what was waste in reality. Just-in-Time principles and Principle of Jidoka.These principles reflecte two assumptions-

  • Actual needs would differ from a production plan which were unpredictable, no matter how it has been planned.

  • Problems identified instantly on the shop floor which deviate planned operating conditions.

TPS encouraged continuously planning process by alerting plant people because TPS depended on human infrastructure ,Principles of  JIT and Jidoka were inclined to shutdowns and would  be paralyzed without capable person who would solve present problem promptly.
A healthy discussion of a problem would start with “let’s go see it” and then tend to meet at a point i.e. “Five Why” exercise.This exercise resides of getting the answer of  “Why” questions until core cause was discovered.
Current routine handling where team member used the andon cord which provided help to report the problem to the concern team leader before installation of  defective seat.After that Team leader used the andon cord to signal okay and tagged the car so that  quality control inspector could be alert about seat problem. As usual then his car went through the rest of the assembly line with defective seat in it.Then the car was send to clinic area upon the line -off only if problem was correctable there .If problem is for replacement seat then the car was transferred  to overflow parking area where order of replacement seat was done and the car was remained for KFS’s special delivery. Defective seat were returned to KFS.
Investigating problems on the line was an exception to standard practice at the expense of shut down the assembly line. We have reason to stop the line-

  • Final assembly employees already aware about the problem 

  • There were  possibilities  to complete production of car without assemblies of seat.

Question 4

What is the real problem facing Doug Friesen?

Product Proliferation is the real problem. Camry (old model) seat had four colors and three styles  .1992,Camry offered only three seat colors but had five styles. The real problem identified when TMM launched Camry Wagons with variations of  eight seat but served to whole market is the biggest challenge
Cross - threading is the only problem they could think of was occasional incidents i.e. when member of team shot a bolt. Team leader were able to fix this problem  in 30 seconds with  the help of  re-tapping tool. When any member would  damage the seat accidently covering with hand tools,but they were not able to recall any current occurrences.In the  installation of Rear side bolster, a hook extended from the back of that part but hook  broke off sometime.

Three facts are learned from QC -

  1. Modification in  the pertinent tooling for the hook would cost $50,000 to KFS

  2. Tsutsumi had not reported problem 

  3. At the time of new model introduction, hook breakage incidence had gone towards the bottom .

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