Profits set a Japanese record
CASE STUDY TOYOTA
Toyota – ranked as a most respected company in the world – is the world's leading carmaker on any number of financial rankings. Profits in the first nine months of the year set a record for Japan.
Indeed, the biggest problem the company faces is caused by its own success: it is building so many factories that it faces a shortage of production engineers.
Increased foreign production is creating its own problems: the company is having trouble indoctrinating so many new workers into the 'Toyota Way', a mindset which goes much deeper than the production system widely copied by Western manufacturers.
This prompted the company last year to downgrade the importance of its system of 'mother plants' in Japan which nurture foreign factories, in favour of a centralized training facility in Toyota City, in the south of the country.
The European operations took a decade to make a profit, but are now becoming a serious threat to German and French manufacturers.
'Toyota just doesn't stop,' said one New York analyst. 'If something doesn't work out, they don't give up.'
This attitude ofkaizen, or continuous improvement, is something Western manufactures have been trying to embed in their manufacturing system for a decade.
Source: Financial Times, February 24, 2010
Toyota 'lost way' in rapid expansion
Toyoda to testify before US committee – Priorities 'confused' in dash for growth
Akio Toyoda, the embattled Toyota chief executive, has admitted that the company lost its way and sense of priorities in its rapid rise to the top, culminating in a massive vehicle recall and a loss of consumer trust.
'I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick,' Mr Toyoda said in written testimony released yesterday and due to be delivered today before the US House oversight committee.
While safety used to be the company's top priority, followed by quality and volume, the chief executive acknowledges that those priorities became 'confused' in the expansion of its business.
'We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organisation, and we should sincerely be mindful of that,' Mr Toyoda's testimony says.
Lawmakers are expected to grill Mr Toyoda on when Toyota first learned of safety problems related to sudden acceleration in its vehicles and whether it sought to play down their seriousness with US regulators. He will also face questioning on Toyota's relationship with regulators.
Source: Financial Times, March 12, 2010
Union at Toyota aired fears on safety
Concerns in 2006 over cost cutting – US lawmakers given letter on car quality
Toyota has handed over to US lawmakers a 2006 letter written by Japanese employees warning that aggressive cost cuts had undermined the quality of its vehicles.
The letter, from a small dissident labour union, was sent to Katsuaki Watanabe, Toyota's former chief executive, and accuses it of 'sacrificing safety' by curtailing vehicle testing and hiring thousands of 'amateur' short-term contract workers.
What is special about Toyota in the automobile industry?
Find out what the 'Toyota Way' means as a production system.
Continuous improvement (or kaizen) is part of Toyota's working culture. How does this really work within the Toyota organization?
In 2010 Toyota lost way in rapid expansion. There were early warning signals for these problems. How were these signs handled?
Section 9.6 (as a whole)