Toyota Supplier Portal and Advisory Panel Opinion – Toyota’s supply chain is a vast network of suppliers providing auto parts to the Toyota plant. If there’s any defects in the products as provided by its supply chain, then it will likely manifest itself in the finished good: a defective and potentially unsafe Toyota vehicle.
The Quality Advisory Panel addresses this concern and makes the following inconclusive advice:
Some commentators have suggested that Toyota’s recent quality and safety problems may be partially the result of inadequate oversight of its suppliers. For example, Toyota recalled over one million Corolla vehicles because of defects in the engine control module manufactured by one of Toyota’s suppliers.
Even though Toyota engineers reviewed the supplier’s proposed production process, there was a problem with that process resulting in some units developing electrical shorts that could not be found by inspection. Toyota has explained that it has already taken steps to strengthen its oversight of suppliers.
Although the Panel did not undertake a detailed review of Toyota’s supplier oversight in its first year, it looks forward to learning more about Toyota’s initiatives in this area and their implementation in the coming year. Of course, the Panel recognizes that mitigating the adverse effects of the earthquakes and tsunami on the company’s supply chain will remain Toyota’s focus for the foreseeable future.
Please read our series on the findings from the Toyota Quality Advisory Board:
- Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel Conclusions: The high-level summary of the findings from the quality advisory panel.
- Balance Between Local and Global Management Control: How can Toyota best balance decision making between Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan and its regional operations in the North America and the world?
- Responses to Problems Raised by Internal and External Sources: The panel found that problems raised by sources external to Toyota were not treated as seriously as those found within Toyota. The panel claims that this violates the tenets of the Toyota Production System.
- Management Responsibility for Quality and Safety: Because Toyota treated Safety as a subset of Quality, the panel believes that this has led to the blurring of the lines and makes the question “Who is Responsible?” more difficult to answer; consequently, this has led to the old adage of “if everyone is responsible, then nobody is accountable”.
- The Challenges of Integrating Electronics and Software: Has the integration of software led to safety problems?
- Management of Supplier Product Quality: As Toyota becomes more and more decentralized, has Toyota maintained the rigorous supplier quality requirements it once had?
Greater oversight of the Toyota suppliers is wise. Toyota already has a very strong Toyota Supplier support, but that is primarily focused on the adoption by the supplier of the Toyota Production System. An added level of oversight ought to be on the safety side of things. That, in addition to the quality focus, will enable Toyota to get back on track and maintain its brand, known for quality and safety.