Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A. (TMM) is deviating from the standard assembly line principle of jidoka in an attempt to avoid expenses incurred from stopping the production line for seat quality defects. This deviation has contributed to the inability to identify the root cause of the problem, which has led to decreased run ratios on the line and an excess of defective automobiles in the overflow lot for multiple days. If this problem isn’t fixed quickly, an increased amount of waste will continue to be incurred and customer value will be threatened.
Friesen is truly struggling to find a way to "have his cake and eat it too". Friesen is passionate about TPS ways of achieving lean manufacturing by staying focused on achieving cost reduction by thoroughly eliminating waste. He knows that just in time (JIT) production is implemented to insure plants produce only what is needed, only how much is needed, and only when it is needed. He has been thoroughly trained in jidoka principles, understanding processes are put in place to make any production problems instantly self-evident through visual deviations from normal conditions. He also understands the value of the andon pull, and that it states the andon card is not replaced until the problem is fixed – often resulting in a stop of the line. However, he felt this problem was different, and therefore an alternate process was acceptable. He believed it was possible to deviate from some of the core jidoda principles by fixing the quality problem off the production line, and within the quality control (QC) team. He believed this would allow him to save money by not having idle machines. Even after all the alarming red flags in front of him that indicate...
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... the standard process, Friesen is attempting to fix the problem by skipping the first three foundational levels of key principles and jumping to the fourth level of the foundation, problem solving. Although he is implementing problem solving by going to see for himself, by skipping the first three levels he is limiting his ability to effectively get to the root cause of the problem and solve it for the long run.
Any short term gains achieved by not solving the problem on the line will not outweigh the long term gains that can be achieved by sticking to the tried and true TPS philosophies. Friesen needs to immediately cease the current deviation to the standards, and return to the proven jidoka and andon processes, which include implementing the "five whys" (see example, Appendix B), to truly uncover the root cause of the seat defects and find a long term solution.
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