Toyota, Flexible manufacturing

Essay by ToddMannUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

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Toyota has been a significant company in the evolution of the production system. Before Toyota entered the manufacturing scene, mass production was the only viable way to manufacture automobiles. Toyota's flexible production techniques made huge improvements in automobile production. Even though Toyota has much strength, there are still obstacles to overcome.

Toyota came up with many innovative techniques that gained them competitive advantage. One of Toyota's strengths lies in the fact that it integrated its workers into teams, which made way for more efficient production. Toyota was also the first company to come up with the Kanban system. The Kanban system operated by putting component parts into a bin and once the materials in the bin was used up; it would send the bin back to the previous step in the manufacturing process. This technique was eventually integrated into the suppliers in which Toyota contracts from. This system increased inventory turnover by minimizing the work-in-progress.

Toyota's cost saving manufacturing process makes Toyota stand out over the rest of the automobile industry especially in the United States.

There are some weaknesses in Toyota's company. Even though Toyota is the leading automobile company in Japan, sales have slumped through most of the 90's. Recession could be some of the reason, but Toyota also faces stiff competition in Japan. Honda and Nissan are two of the major companies that are giving Toyota some competition in Japan. Honda and Nissan are also efficient producers, while Ford and GM remain less efficient producers. Despite the competition that is present, Toyota still has some opportunities to be even bigger.

Toyota could expand on its research and development department in Japan. As soon as Toyota found exactly what the Japanese consumer needed, Toyota could gain better footing in the Japanese market. This opportunity could give Toyota...