Japanese car manufacturer Toyota is targeting a return to 90% of pre-quake output as supply problems ease.
Toyota’s plants in North America are still idle and output from its domestic plants has plummeted 74.5% on this time last year. In the face of this challenge however, the global automotive leader has today stated that it plans for production in Japan to return to 90% of pre-quake levels within the month.
Despite problems with product recalls last year Toyota still started 2011 as the world largest automotive company. The Japanese tsunami and earthquake in March however, have had a devastating effect on many of the country’s manufacturers and their global supply chains, as factories struggle to reassume normal operations and parts shortages eke out.
These shortages are said to be improving and Toyota has said that it is largely due to the commitment and effort of its own supply base that it has been able to set the ambitious production targets today.
Furthermore, Toyata spokesman, Paul Nolasco, has stated that the 90% target set today is just a step within a competitive improvement journey now being energetically pursued by the company.
Mr Nolasco says: “After the quake we were facing a shortage of almost 500 parts, the numbers have since decreased to 30 parts or may be even less right now.”
However, the company said the situation had been gradually improving and “We have had a constant recovery in our supply chain and that is starting to have a positive effect on our production,” Mr Nolasco said.
He added: “We still have to reach full capacity and also have to take care of our overseas production.”
Only Honda has been harder hit than Toyota in the line-up of Japanese automotive makers. Honda’s domestic outputs were down 81% on this time last year at the end of May. Nissan seems to have fared better filing impressive end of year profits despite a slump of 48.7% productivity at its Japanese plants.
Inevitably, given the company’s position as the birth place of lean manufacturing, Toyota has been under intense scrutiny for its reactions to disaster of March 11. Some supply chain experts have said that recent supply chain problems would not have been as bad if lean practices had not pushed inventory levels to a minimum. Other lean authorities have refuted this however.
The debate is summed up in the duo of letters written to Lean Management Journal expressing the views of automotive writer Matthew DeBord and lean enthusiast and academic Dr Jeff Liker. These letters are published in the May/June edition of the journal, available online at www.leanmj.com.