Toyota Simplifies Supplier Communications - InformationWeek
Software // Enterprise Applications
02:25 PM
[Dark Reading Crash Course] Finding & Fixing Application Security Vulnerabilitie
Sep 14, 2017
Hear from a top applications security expert as he discusses key practices for scanning and securi ...Read More>>

Toyota Simplifies Supplier Communications

As the company ramps up vehicle production in North America, it's looking to add tools to improve quality, materials availability,and more.

As Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America moves forward with plans to increase manufacturing capacity in the United States, it's counting on its supplier portal to gain more detailed information on parts status, tracking, and quality so that it can more efficiently manage production requirements. A survey in the field now with suppliers is helping the division's North American IT team determine the best Java-based tools to add to the portal to help achieve its goals.

With three major model changes set for 2006--the same year its San Antonio, Texas, plant goes online and production increases to 1.66 million vehicles, up from 1.48 million this year--the company needs to simplify supplier communications. "Imagine trying to manage several vehicles launches at once, sourcing components from many suppliers and locations," says Todd Bridwell, general manager of information services at Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America.

The existing portal, based on IBM's WebSphere Portal Server, supports nearly 20 tools, from purchasing to finance applications. The most recent tool, which Toyota began implementing earlier this year, is an automated "kanban" lean manufacturing system that sends suppliers a signal to replenish inventory. The automated system replaces the traditional paper-based kanban process to create a production environment driven by demand that holds only a small amount of inventory and products at any given time. Less than 1-1/2 shifts worth of inventory exist at any one of Toyota North America's manufacturing sites. "We're tightly integrated with our suppliers on production," Bridwell says, describing how seats from Johnson Controls Inc. are popped into Avalon, Camry, and Solara cars the minute they arrive at Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., manufacturing plant.

The Supplier Key Performance Indicator on Toyota's supplier portal, which was launched last year to alert suppliers of missed shipments or quality issues in their products, likely will be reengineered to step up the frequency of such alerts to suppliers. "The quality process has gaps because it takes too long to report back to suppliers the issues caused by latency," says Kevin Mixer, automotive research director at AMR Research. Toyota already is a leader in collaborative processes with suppliers, he says, but "real-time feedback is the next level of lean quality manufacturing techniques, which eliminates waste. In this case, waste is time."

Other types of tools that may be added to improve business processes during preproduction, based on the survey, may range from systems to make sure suppliers have the materials to support the manufacturing for a specific vehicle design, to verifying that the processes suppliers use to build parts are top notch.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
[Interop ITX 2017] State Of DevOps Report
[Interop ITX 2017] State Of DevOps Report
The DevOps movement brings application development and infrastructure operations together to increase efficiency and deploy applications more quickly. But embracing DevOps means making significant cultural, organizational, and technological changes. This research report will examine how and why IT organizations are adopting DevOps methodologies, the effects on their staff and processes, and the tools they are utilizing for the best results.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll