Toyota GM Shares what Makes Toyota Boshoku Great

One of the great honors I get to do weekly is interview companies on their lean journeys.  This week I was fortunate enough to spend time with Jason Hartkemeyer, a General Manager at Toyota Boshoku which makes seats and interior pieces for the automotive industry.

Some of the key points from our discussion:

  1.  Toyota Boshoku is the original Toyota.  The founder Sakichi Toyoda began by making automated weaving looms.  In the early 1900’s his sons visited Europe and convinced their father to begin producing automobiles.  Jason mentioned he traveled to Japan and saw the original loom that Sakichi developed.  “It’s hard to believe that this multi-billion dollar company began with weaving looms.”
  2. When Toyota first came to America, they were part of a joint venture with Gm called NUMMI New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated.   GM wanted to learn the secrets of the Japanese manufacturing processes.  The facility closed in 2010 and is where Tesla’s are manufactured today.
  3. Toyota invests heavily in their employees.  Many employees spend their entire working career at Toyota.  They learn how to work well as a team and have a great alumni network.  Toyota Boshoky Leaders know who they can lean on if they have questions.
  4.   They use eight guiding principles at Toyota Boshoku.  These are their True North and guide decisions made within the organization.  These guiding principles have been around 100 years!
  5. They build seats with a two hour lead time.  They receive the order when a car hits the paint booth and they have two hours to produce the seats and ship it to the factory.  Toyota makes roughly one car a minute.  There is a lot to manage between suppliers, logistics, production, and distribution.
  6. Start your Lean journey using value stream mapping, then identify waste opportunities and focus on improvements across the entire value stream.  Try to stay away from pocket improvements.  Small areas of excellence.  They will be hard to maintain and won’t improve the performance of the overall business.

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