Toyota Motor Manufacturing, USA, Inc.

1.If you were Doug Friesen, where would you focus attention and what would you do to address the seat problem?One of the first things that I would do is to determine if the process that is being used to solve the problems with defective seats is the best method to use, especially since it doesn’t follow the TPS method of stopping production, trying to figure out why the problem occurred and how to prevent it from happening again, fixing the defect, and restraining production. Also, I would take a look at the communication between the seat supplier, Kentucky Framed Seat (KFS) and the plant, if there a miscommunication of some sort.

One other issue to be looked at is why the cars are sitting in the overflow parking lot for so long. KFS was making special deliveries of new seats twice a day, but there were cars with defective seats still sitting in the lot for over four days. Another issue that also must be looked at is the problem caused by cross-threading and the breaking of the hook, also the deliveries of wrong seats by KFS.

I would also go to the KFS plant and watch the production lines and see if there are any easily noticeable problems. Then I can go and watch the team who installs the seats and make sure there are no problems there. Overall I will need to find the root of the problem.

2.What options exist? What would you recommend and why?One solution to the problem could be that employees can spend more time on installing the seats in the way they would fit, the bolt through the hook with more caution. Another option could be to redesign the seat to resolve the problem with the breaking of the hook. Even though Mr. Friesen has looked into this and found out that it would cost KFS $50,000 to redesign the seat, the question is how long it would take to recover that cost and is it really worth it.

A third option could be to rework the off-line process since something needs to be done to reduce the number of cars sitting at the overflow lot for a long time. Last but not least, Mr. Friesen could adjust the seat assembly team by determining if there are any new employees, any changes in the processes or if more training that needs to be done.

3. What is the real problem facing Doug Friesen?The real problem is the fact that the cars are sitting in the overflow lot for too long which is causing a 10% drop off in run ratio from 95% to 85% which is very significant and it causes a shortfall of 45 cars per shift thus making overtime a necessity to meet their goals. There appears to be a problem with handling the cars through the off-line process.

Mr. Friesen needs to determine whether the increase in the number of cars sitting in the lot is caused by the process used for defective seats, the overall off-line process, or the supplier’s ability to meet Toyota’s standards and needs. Also, the production process as a whole contributes to the seat problem because currently the plant is overloaded and the workers suffer from overtime. Toyota would have a very hard time succeeding if this problem continues to slow down their production times and a solution needs to be worked out quickly and effectively.