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Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S. A Inc Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
979 1256 Words (6 Pages) Willy Shih Harvard:618713-VID-ENG
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The Production System of Toyota is called TPS (Toyota Production System). It is an assimilated socio-technical system developed by Toyota itself. This system comprises the practices and the management philosophy of Toyota. Jjidoka, just-in-time (JIT), heijunka, kanban and kaizen are some of the main concepts used in TPS. The TPS systematizes logistical as well as manufacturing processes for Toyota that includes interaction with all the suppliers and customers. The TPS is actually a major predecessor of the more standard ‘lean manufacturing system’.

This Toyota Motor Manufacturing U.S.A. case study discusses the TPS system in detail and analyzes a seat problem that was dealt by the management. In the paragraphs below, a detail analysis of the case study is given by providing answers to the specific questions.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution

  1. Consider the following terms mentioned in the case, jidoka, just-in-time, heijunka, kanban, kaizen. What role does each of these concepts play in the Toyota production system, and how do these concepts support / enable each other?

  2. Does Toyota respond just-in-time to customer orders? What does it do justin-time?

  3. We’ve talked a lot about inventory during the last two classes, particularly the factors affecting how much inventory we should hold. Lean production focuses on keeping inventory levels low. In light of what we have discussed about inventory (and queuing and process analysis, for that matter), what  things are Toyota doing to make this possible.

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

  5. Where, if at all, does the current procedure for handling defective seats deviate from TPS principle?

Case Analysis for Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S. A Inc

1. Consider the following terms mentioned in the case, jidoka, just-in-time, HEIJUNKA, kanban, kaizen. What role does each of these concepts play in the Toyota production system, and how do these concepts support/enable each other?

i. Jidoka

Jidoka is one of the mainstays of the Toyota Production System. It provides machines and operators the ability to detect when an abnormal condition has occurred and immediately stop work. Jidoka emphasizes on the source of problems when they first occur which helps in eliminating the root cause of defect thereby improving the quality of work.

ii. Just-in-Time

"Just-in-Time" is another very crucial concept in TPS that means ‘making only what is required, when it is required, and in the amount required’. For example, in order to produce a large number of automobiles efficiently, it is essential to develop a thorough production plan. The plan should include parts procurement and supply-chain methodologies. Supplying what is required, when is needed, and in the amount required according to this production plan can eradicate inconsistencies, wastes and unreasonable requirements. This results in improved productivity and hence leading to more profitability.

iii. Heijunka

Toyota concept of heijunka refers to equalizing the production. In Heijunka, the production is equalized both by size and by product mix. This system does not build products according to the actual flow of customer orders. Heijunka receives the entire order in a period and levels them out, so the same quantity and mix are produced each day.

iv. Kanban

In the production system of Toyota, a unique production control method known as the "kanban system" plays a very crucial role. During manufacturing process in Toyota, when a process refers to a previous process to recover parts, it uses the idea of ‘kanban’ to communicate which parts have been utilized. This concept is also as important as all the others.

v. Kaizen

The philosophy of kaizen is one of Toyota’s core values. It means ‘continuous improvement’. This concept states that “No process can ever be declared perfect, but it can always be improved”.

As discussed earlier, the production system of Toyota is an integrated socio-technical system. All the above mentioned concepts play a vital role in the Toyota Production System (TPS). All these concepts support each other and are dependent of each other for efficient performance. They are the pre-requisites, and without these concepts the production system would not be that effective.

2. Does Toyota respond just-in-time to customer orders? What does it do justin-time?

Toyota has a Quality Control department which sets up an obligatory routine of setting strong quality standards. This department insures inspecting every single vehicle and following up on the customer’s experience with the services and the shipped vehicles. Yes, Toyota responds just-in-time to customer orders. It is one of the key concepts of their whole production system.

Just-in-Time (JIT) is a philosophy and a concept of complete elimination of waste. JIT is basically a production strategy that tries to develop a business return on investment by reducing inventory, which is in process, and all the associated carrying costs. For Toyota, just-in-time (JIT) means providing and making "only what is required, when is required, and in the amount required". Toyota strictly follows this concept, and that is what they do Justin-time.

3. We’ve talked a lot about inventory during the last two CLASSES; particularly the factors affecting how much inventory we should hold, Lean production focuses on keeping inventory levels low. In light of what we have discussed about inventory (and queuing and process analysis, for that matter), what things are Toyota doing to make this possible.

The manufacturing system of Toyota is a major predecessor of the more generic "lean manufacturing” system and the Toyota Production Control department keeps an account of the inventory. The main goal of the production control department is to forage essential parts into the TMM operations such that the accurate number of cars in the right blend could be manufactured and delivered to the sales company before the given deadline. So, essentially the concept of just in time affects how much inventory a company should hold. The planning procedures also employ key concept of heijunka whereby the entire order in daily production sequence is distributed equally both by volume and by product mix. This system does not build products according to the actual flow of customer orders. It takes the total volume of orders in a period and levels them out, so the same amount and mix are being made each day.

The heijunka practice by Toyota attains two targets. First one is the spreading out of the demands for parts as consistently as possible. The second one is synchronization of the assembly line with the definitive sales of cars. Along with heijunka, Toyota uses kanban cards whereby the inventory is kept minimal at “just-in-time” level which enhances Toyota’s efficiency.

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

The cause of concern was product proliferation. The old model Camry has three styles and four colors whereas, the 1992 model offered different number of colors. The run ratio was down to a meager 85% when Doug Friesen came to know about this issue. In the meanwhile, another concern was a high level of off-line vehicle inventory.

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