Whilst we observe the rather sudden tarnishing of Toyota’s quality aura, it is easy to lose sight of the enormous value Toyota has given to our understanding of efficient and flexible manufacturing. The lessons are everywhere, there would not be a manufacturing operation anywhere in the dev eloped world that has not benefited from the expertise developed and shared by Toyota.
Our understanding of the TPS began when Toyota began manufacturing outside Japan, its first foray was a JV with General Motors in their Fremont California plant, in a JV called New United Motors Manufacturing Inc, or “NUMMI” as it is commonly called.
This JV is a milestone in our understanding of manufacturing, the link is to a Sloan Management Review article written by one of the modern gurus of lean manufacturing, john Shook, who was a key employee in the development of NUMMI, and its subsequent success.
Anybody unfamiliar with the story should take 10 minutes and come up to speed, and this article is the quickest way.