@ Supply Chain Management


Toyota ventures into the unknown.

A recent article in the trade rag – Tooling & Production highlights why I think that Toyota is a company worthy of emulation. The article titled – Makeover will transform Japanese plant into model of innovation, highlights the recent steps that Toyota has taken in order to venture into the unknown.

In an earlier post, I had highlighted the call issued from the chief executive of Toyota – to embark on radical changes. This article highlights how far along they’ve come in taking bold steps in order to sharpen (not regain) its competitive edge.

When Takaoka’s makeover is completed in 2009, it will build more models, faster, on shorter assembly lines than any other Toyota factory. It will use innovative approaches in virtually every step of the manufacturing process, from stamping and welding to painting and final assembly. It will become a fount of ideas for the Toyota manufacturing empire.

In the general sense, Toyota is setting up its Takaoka plant to be a flexible manufacturing site – thus, what you cannot gain with manufacturing efficiencies, Toyota must make up for with speed. One can imagine that this is really a two step approach. As the models that roll out from the Takaoka plant garner praise/rejection, Toyota’s other plants around the world (which are now dedicated to producing a stable portfolio of cars) will offer the production capacity to quickly capitalize on cars that consumers want. Buried in this story is a delicious irony – that of outsourcing. Toyota is actually outsourcing to the US and Europe.

Toyota’s plants in North America, Europe and elsewhere will continue to be dedicated to high volumes of a few nameplates, or what Watanabe calls "stable production." The elite plants in Japan, in contrast, will produce many models flexibly.

But what are the goals that Toyota has placed in front of its engineering and production teams? Above, you have a preview of the allocation of resources, the way the field has been set up so that the marathon can ensue but what are the milestones on the way?

Watanabe also wants to save money. Toyota’s current cost- cutting program is generating annual savings of $2.5 billion. Not enough. Give me more, Watanabe said. What’s the new target? Toyota won’t say.

Read the rest of this entry »

About me

I am Chris Jacob Abraham and I live, work and blog from Newburgh, New York. I work for IBM as a Senior consultant in the Fab PowerOps group that works around the issue of detailed Fab (semiconductor fab) level scheduling on a continual basis. My erstwhile company ILOG was recently acquired by IBM and I've joined the Industry Solutions Group there.

@ SCM Clustrmap

Locations of visitors to this page

Subscribe by email

Enter email:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Enter email to subscribe
July 2007