Updated: Quake forces Toyota to halt production
Updated: No real updates in the news, maybe we'll learn more in the morning… but a few more thoughts of mine added below.
Toyota (as well as other Japanese automakers, including Nissan) is having to shut down a dozen factories in Japan due to the earthquake:
“Tom Libby, J.D. Power and Associates' senior director of industry analysis, said customers shouldn't notice the shutdown because Toyota likely has sufficient inventory to cover a few days of lost production.”
How long before we see another article that asks “Is Just-In-Time Too Risky??”
Updated: It is a supplier, Riken Corp., whose factory and warehouse were damaged. Yes, Toyota has suppliers with warehouses, that might surprise you if you're new to Lean. It's this new experiment in San Antonio where Toyota is tying themselves directly to the suppliers. In other cases, the suppliers would typically have some finished goods inventory to ship from, that famous “just in time” delivery.
Even, with Toyota schedules being pretty level (the “heijunka” concept”), the suppliers might still have to keep some inventory (it might just be hours or shifts worth) if they have setup time issues that prevent them from perfectly matching Toyota's build schedule. Plus, there is some buffer inventory in place. Nobody is perfect, lines go down from time to time, so you keep a little buffer.
Toyota, Japan's No. 1 automaker, will stop production lines at a dozen factories centered in central Aichi prefecture Thursday afternoon and all day Friday, said Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco.
Toyota will re-evaluate soon if they will be able to start up again on Monday.