Learning from Toyota's mistakes
Toyota's "lean production" system is the blueprint for almost every other type of manufacturing, as its painstaking attention to detail, aggressive pursuit of perfection and self-assured marketing techniques has made Toyota the world's largest car firm.
Over the past two decades Toyota have set the standard in manufacturing and not just in the automotive industry. The Japanese giant's "lean production" system is also the blueprint for almost every other type of manufacturing, as its painstaking attention to detail, aggressive pursuit of perfection and self-assured marketing techniques has made Toyota the world's largest car firm.
You won't find a single car-maker who hasn't copied Toyota's manufacturing and supply chain management, so it comes as no surprise that when the company was hit by a devastating series of safety recalls in February, its competitors refrained from basking in its failings and instead returned to their shop floors fully aware that the same could happen to them.
Toyota successfully manufactured its own downfall via a number of practices that were far removed from the well established processes that made them the market leader. In a relentless pursuit of growth, Toyota dropped the ball as it began to push the lean production model beyond its limits and engineering quality ultimately suffered as a result.
As Toyota boss Akio Toyoda himself put it in his testimony to a US congressional panel, "Toyota has, for the past few years, been expanding its business rapidly. Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick."
Weak working relationships
In 2002, Toyota set itself the goal of increasing its global market share from 11 percent to 15 percent, a goal that was driven purely by "ego", according to James Womack, one of the authors of The Machine that Changed the World.
The automotive manufacturing industry is made up of a complex web of original equipment manufacturers or...