The production of the new Camry model has introduced new challenges in the Toyota’s Georgetown Plan such as higher labour costs, lost production due to below than projected utilization rates, growing number of inventory in the line, less output per hour, and problems to meet sales agreements at distributions channels. Even though the problem has been attributed to the seat, the management does not know where the source is. Given that at looking to meet the short-term demand production targets the management has deviated from its TPS philosophy, Toyota has lost the trace of the problem and now has the challenge to address it in order to revert this trend. After a throughout analysis, we found out the following aspects could have had a different degree of impact in today’s outcome. The seat types were increased from 12 to 84 with a very short period of accommodation time for the supplier. A higher number of Andon Pulls were found in the second shift.
The main topic of the case was the problems caused by defective or damaged seats. TMM USA's seat problem was threefold. The first was the actual defects with the hooks and the damaged caused by cross threading by employees when installing the seats. This problem led to the second problem, which was the departure from the Toyota Production System (TPS) when dealing with the seat problem. Rather than fix the problem with the seat when it happened, they continued with the car's production and worried about the seat afterwards. And this led to the third problem, a build up of cars with seat problems.
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.
Doug Friesen should try to gather as much information as he can to determine where the problem lays. I would interview the workers in the assembly line and try to get details into why they think the seats are ending up defective. Talk to Kentucky Framed Seat (KFS) to see if any problems exist in having to adjust to the added seat variations. Perhaps there is something Toyota Motor Manufacturing, USA (TMM) could help KFS in meeting the seat demands more efficiently. The coordination and keeping the lines of communication open between both companies will be crucial in fixing this problem.
The fact that cars are waiting for replacement seats for four days even though KFS responds to defective seats by sending replacements twice a week tells us there is a communication problem by TMM or a production problem with KFS. Friesen should focus in this problem since this seems the most imminent problem.