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If you were Doug Friesen, manager of assembly at the company's Georgetown, Kentucky, plant, what would you do to address the seat problem? Where would you focus your attention and solution efforts?
What options exist? What would you recommend? Why?
Where, if at all, does the current routine for handling defective seats deviate from the principles of the Toyota Production System?
What is the real problem facing Doug Friesen?
What is your plan to solve the seat problem?

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc., Professor Kazuhiro Mishina, Kazunori Takeda, Harvard Business School, Rev. September 5, 1995. 9-693-019, pages 1-22.

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Solution Summary

The expert examines a current routine for handling defective seats. The real problem facing Doug Friesen is determined.

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If you were Doug Friesen, manager of assembly at the company's Georgetown, Kentucky, plant, what would you do to address the seat problem? Where would you focus your attention and solution efforts?

The seat problem needs to be handled in six different approaches. The first approach would be to determine how many cars are actually waiting in the overflow area for additional KFS defective seat replacements. Once the number of seat replacements, an order will be created for the replacements. The order will be delivered by me on the following morning. At that time, I will meet with KFS purchasing, Quality and Plant Manager to discuss the back log of seats that haven?t been replaced. We have to resolve the defective seat replacement process ASAP. We have to ensure that the current vehicles will be assembled on time to meet our Total Vehicle Order. Unfortunately, we don?t have the ability to stop at our facility because the Camry Wagon is produced worldwide at our facility and we only have KFS as our seat assembly manufacture. Turning around this problem ASAP is in our best interest.

(2) Since the Tsutsumi plant didn?t have any issues with the seat hook, we will have individuals from Tsutsumi team such as: Quality Control, Coordinators and Engineers visit our plant to meet with KFS and us. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the hook issue for the back seat. Also, the team will discuss their installation process and how any production line problems are resolved. We have examined how to resolve the hook problem to ensure that the back seats can be installed correctly by the person assembling the vehicle and not involve the andon cord being pulled as many times as the current number and involving the front line team leaders.

(3) We will send members of our Production Quality team, and a selected member of the Final line 1 and Final line 2 along with me will travel to the Tsutsumi facility to watch their installation, troubleshooting installation problems and quality control inspection. We need to start refocusing on the Total Production System model and focus on quality. The selected members of our team were based on the fact that our quality and troubleshooting has to be improved. We will be going to Japan to visit the Tsutsumi facility to see first hand how the team is handling the seat installation with the new hook. Also, we will observe any troubleshooting steps and methods used by the team leaders. We need to have our team trained on how to resolve as many back seat installation problems as possible.

(4) Develop a kanban process for the seat replacement process for defective seats. The current process is not working because there are vehicles older than the required replacement of current shift and next shift. There were vehicles as old as April 27th.

(5) The ...

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