Toyota Motor Manufacturing

(1) As Doug Friesen, what would you do to address the seat problem? Where would you focus your attention and solution efforts? What options exist? What would you recommend? Why? The first thing that should be addressed is finding what the actual reason for the problem is. In looking at the defect data from Exhibit 8, it identifies 5 seat defects that constitute 87% of the rejected seats from April 14 through April 30. In looking at Exhibit 10, it can be ascertained that the number of Andon pulls from the rear seat installation on both the left and right sides is more than 3 to 6 times higher in some cases than those of the front seat installations.

Mr. Friesen should have a cross-functional team of TMM and KFS employees from various disciplines to begin the “5-Why” process on the top five defects: (1) material flaw, (2) missing part, (3) seat bolster broken, (4) wrong part, and (5) seat back broken. This will help in finding the actual root cause of the problem which should be addressed. Once the top 5 defects are addressed the team can repeat the process on the remaining defective issues; these issues will only make up a small percentage of the problems.

The defects are more frequently associated with the rear seat installation station than the front seat installation and may also be linked to the new team members that have been rotated into the area at the beginning of April. The data from Exhibit 7 shows an increase in defects beginning in the month of April. The data does not confirm this, but this could be indentified in the 5-why process. Determining the root cause(s) of the defect(s) is the only way this issue will be accurately addressed so that it does not occur again in the future.

(2) Where, if anywhere, does the current routine for handling defective seats deviate from the principles of the Toyota Production System? The current routine of continuing to assemble the defective seats and then

moving them to an off-line clinic to address the issue deviates from the TPS system in several ways. First, it violates the principle of Jidoka, which is to make any production problems instantly self-evident and stop producing whenever problems are detected. Not addressing the defect at the line takes the focus and sense of urgency away from the point of occurrence. Building the defective product creates additional waste and masks the defect, creating additional band-aid problems (e.g., KFS shipping the wrong replacement parts or seats).

Secondly, it creates waste, which TPS tries to avoid. By not addressing the defect additional labor, time, floor space, and material handling will have to be used. Finally, it does not allow TMM to utilize its human infrastructure to solve the exposed problem promptly so that it does not reoccur. It takes away the focus, responsibility and ownership of those producing the defective product and pushes it on someone else to fix the problem.

(3) What are the underlying causes of the problems facing Doug Friesen? Deviation from TPS methodology with seat defects – As outlined in question 2, but not adhering to the Jidoka and TPS methods for handling defects, an environment has been created which emphasizes the importance of production more than quality and the elimination of waste.

Potential training issue with new team members on rotation – There may be a correlation between new team member training and the seat defects, especially the broken seat bolsters (which have been identified as being an internal problem).

Rapid introduction of multiple car models / options – The recent introduction of multiple models with multiple options into the very complicated seat sequencing process may be an underlying contributor to the defects. Additional planning and trial preparation will need to be implemented to address damage and sequencing issues.

Complacency of single source seat supplier – KFS is sourced as the sole supplier of seats, which is a departure from how TMC typically operates. This single source mentality may create an environment of complacency which is contributing to the lack of attention being given to solving the defects.