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Toyota Motor Manufacturing Case Essay

1)As manager of assembly, Doug Friesen should address the problem by focusing on this exception and reasons for allowing such a deviation from Toyota Motors Manufacturing (TMM) normal way of handling problems. He should also look at the communication and synchronization between Kentucky Framed Seat (KFS), the seat supplier, and the plant. One 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 still there were cars with defective seats sitting in overflow lot for over four days. The other seat issues that Mr. Friesen should look into are the problems caused by cross-threading, breaking of the hook, and the delivery of the wrong seat by KFS. His attention should be focused on finding the root of the problem.

He should go down and watch the team who installs the seats into the cars and see if he sees any problems there. He should also consider taking a few minutes out of the day to talk to those employees and see what they think could be done. He should also consider going over to KFS and watching there production lines to see if he can notice any significant problems. Perhaps KFS is being overworked with the new increase in seat variations and finding another supplier or perhaps expanding their own plant to build seats on their own like other companies. Doug should focus his efforts to find the root of the problem and determine if the solution is feasible. Time just needs to be invested to investigate the problem and have the company think together to figure out the problem and solution.

2)There are a few different options that I believe Mr. Friesen could follow. The first is to adjust the seat assembly team. He should determine if any changes are needed in the employees, the processes, or the training methods. Another option is to rework the off-line process, there needs to be something done to reduce the number of cars sitting on the overflow lot waiting for new seats. Possibly, a system that notifies employees when a car has been sitting in the overflow lot for more than four hours could be used. This should allow enough time for the correct seat to arrive and the problem fixed. Also, if the employee already knows that the seat needs to be reordered, then a system should be set up for the order to go in right away to avoid waiting. Another possible solution to this would be to have the employee spend a little more time on installing the bolt through the hook so they will be able to use more caution. Doug could also look into a redesign of the seat to solve the problem of the breaking hook. Mr. Friesen did look into this and found that it would cost KFS $50,000 to redesign the seat.

The question here would be how long would it take to recover the cost, is it not worth the cost to redesign it, or is there a better way to solve the hook breakage problem. The next option is to look at KFS’s production process. Why is it that the off-line team sometimes receives the wrong seat type? Does KFS perform a quality check before the seat leaves their company? They should work with KFS to ensure that KFS does a quality check before sending out the seat. The last option is to review the increase in the amount of work since the addition of seat options and the wagon production and find ways to handle it. In this option, it might be necessary to use another supplier to supplement the seats that KFS cannot produce fast enough. If that is a problem finding suppliers could be difficult and the best option might be to produce the seats themselves.

I know that all of these have been listed as options, but I believe that they all can be done and should be. The reason for this is that though any of these would help alleviate some of the seat problems and reduce the number of cars with defective seats or the fixing time of them, they actually focus on different pieces of the problem. The theme behind the TPS process is to eliminate all waste and so each of these problems needs to be resolved. Therefore to sum up what needs to be done, Mr. Friesen needs to identify the processes that need improvement, gather more data on what the problems are and their causes, and analyze the data to determine what the solution to the problems is.

3)TPS relies on the Just-In-Time production (JIT) and jidoka. The current routine when it comes to the problems with the seats fails to satisfy either one of these methods. With JIT the correct seat should be arriving at the exact time needed, which is not happening. Also when it comes to ordering the new seats to be installed in the car the principals of the JIT method are being ignored. Cars should not be sitting in the clinic area for days on end. The current routine does not follow jidoka because instead of stopping production and waiting for the new seat to arrive and then fixing the seat before production restarts, TMM USA continues with production and fixes the seat problem after the rest of the car is finished.

There is one other way in which the current routine has deviated from TPS and that is that no one has tried to figure out what the root cause of the problems are, instead they are just fixing the seat. Because of this TMM continues to increase the number of cars in off-line production and the amount of overtime work required to maintain production numbers. The whole purpose of TPS is to isolate the problem and promote the solution of the problem and at this time this has yet to happen because people did not realize the true issue. They figured it could just be fixed later and never attempted to put an end to it. They just allowed the problem to continue to reoccur with out trying to isolate the problem and putting a prompt end to it.

4)The real problem facing Doug Friesen is the identification of the root cause of the defective seats and the faulty processes, which not only disturb the production operations and detract from sales, but also contradict the two firm TPS principles that are supposed to help eliminate problems such as the seat problem before they get out of hand. This problem is concentrated mainly on the off-line operations, which are not suitable to the overall design of the plant. Also, the production process as a whole contributes to the seat problem because currently the plant is overloaded and the workers suffer from overtime. Problems with assembly and production develop from the requirements of running such processes with the aid of JIT and jidoka principles. Due to the known fact that plants practicing these principles are highly prone to shutdowns, it is necessary that such plants have workers that are capable of solving exposed problems in a prompt, complete, and systematic matter.

There is a lot of unpredictability with these systems and because shop floor problems were inevitable they would crop up constantly, in turn making deviations from planned operating conditions unavoidable. Any departure from the aforementioned method of handling exposed problems would paralyze the plant, leading to problems like that of the defective seats, hence the need for exercises such as the Five Whys. These problems caused a 10 percent drop off in run ratio from 95 percent to 85 percent which is very significant which causes a shortfall of 45 cars per shift thus making overtime a necessity to meet there goals. TMM would have a hard time succeeding if this problem continues to impede their production rates and a solution needs to be worked out quickly and efficiently.

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