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Doug Friesen, the manager of assembly for Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky was facing a huge problem regarding its car seats. Several of their cars came up with either no seats or having defective seats. It resulted in employees being engaged to work overtime to resolve the problem but the cause of the problem cannot be identified. Without identifying the cause, the company cannot come up with an appropriate solution.
Harvard Business Review (693019-PDF-ENG)
September 08, 1992
Case questions answered:
- As Doug Friesen, what would you do to address the seat problem at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A. plant? Where would you focus your attention and solution efforts?
- What options exist? What would you recommend for the short term and long term? Why?
- Where, if at all, does the current routine for handling defective seats deviate from the principles of the Toyota Production System?
- What is the real problem facing Doug Friesen?
- What are the key principles that TPS incorporates? Which ones did they fail to follow?
- What is the cost of a chord pull resulting in a line stoppage of 1 minute? 30 minutes? 60 minutes? What is the value of a chord pull?
- How should Doug Friesen address the seat problem of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Inc.? As Doug Friesen, where would you focus your attention and solution efforts?
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Case answers for Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc.
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Q1. As Doug Friesen, what would you do to address the seat problem at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A. plant? Where would you focus your attention and solution efforts?
The deteriorating quality of seats continued to be the issue at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc. (T.M.M.) owing to the Just-In-Time policy followed at their end. The problems were ranging from the delivery of defective seats to failure in seat replacement for the defective ones. Changes and proposed solutions are as follows:
- The introduction of numerous variants led to the issues in seat quality management as the operations at the end of KFS were initially streamlined and in line with T.M.M.’s goals. Postponement of customization of colors can lead to a reduction in the variants during the production stage and can be customized after the seats pass the quality check.
- Quality Control needs to be performed either at the outbound stage of KFS (as per T.M.M. standards) or at the inbound stage of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A.
Instead of keeping the faulty seats in the assembly line, it is better to move to the Code 1 Clinic Area immediately so that the problems in the seat can be identified and rectified. It also helps in the company’s adherence to the Jidoka concept. Adoption of Just-In-Time in the Code 1 Clinic Area for seat rework as well to reduce the delay in the rework process.
Proper seat assembly needs to cross-checked at the Inbound stage itself by T.M.M. for special deliveries.
Q2. What options exist? What would you recommend? Why?
The alternatives are as follows:
- Review of available variants to identify if all of them are necessary or not. Reduction in slow-moving variants can streamline the process.
- 88% of seat defect issues arise from the supplier’s end, which offers us with three alternatives (Exhibit 8):
o Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A. should take up the Quality Control process of KFS in association with KFS’s quality department by providing expertise and developing solutions to match the requisite standards.
o Search for a new supplier who could deliver quality products at Just-In-Time. o Multi-Vendor Policy
- Trend analysis (Exhibit 10) shows that an increasing number of Andon Pulls as the month progresses for Rear Seats. The underlying issues have to be identified and rectified.
- Safety Inventory needed to be maintained for Seats so that the delay from the supplier won’t affect the T.M.M.’s production cycle.
Recommendation: Out of the alternatives mentioned above, we would suggest Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A…
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