What's so good about Toyota?


This article in the Baltimore Sun tells us.


Gary Convis, a former manager at Toyota, Ford, GM, and NUMMI and provides insights into the auto industry, especially how he sees Toyota’s advantage.


Convis was just hired to head up DANA…

Fair article all the way around - of course the amount Toyota spends on R&D per hour actually isn’t that unusual… Ford has regularly outspent them, for instance…


Mr. Convis seems a little unsure about Toyota’s R&D spending as he states it and does not provide similar figures for other car companies.

He also said that health care costs for all car companies in this country are similar. The US companies have older work forces so I doubt his statement about health care costs.

Otherwise it was an interesting article but not very revealing.


I found it revealing. Toyota offers all assembly line workers the power to stop the line if they thing that continuing will jeopardize the cars coming down the line. That is significant in that it empowers the kids who didn’t go to college - it acknowledges that anyone on the line has the savvy to know that they can help the consumer get a better car. That’s good management, and I wish that other manufacturer’s would follow a good lead.


That comes from leadership from core disciplines rather than accountants. When I was supplying Toyota the most feared person was not the buyer, but the Supplier Quality Engineer. Thats is exactly reversed when you work with any other company specially the 3 midgets. Toyota actually made sure that we were making money. They trained our work force using their own personnel with their own money, none of the consultant BS.


The “power to stop the line” bit is seriously overplayed from my experience at Ford, GM, Toyota, and Chrysler plants.

Every single plant I have been at (working on quality issues, fwiw), the workers have had the power to stop the line.

And at every single plant, including Toyota, if you stopped the line and didn’t have a danged good reason for doing so, you were in serious trouble.

I stopped the line at Toyota once. NOT a pleasant experience, even though I had evidence out the wazoo that there was a defect throwing vehicles MASSIVELY out of spec. Better yet, not only was the defect causing a huge amount of rework later on the line at hefty expense, it was causing significant scrap. Net, the cost of the defect was running tens of thousands per shift, and the cost to fix it was about $200.

Even with PLENTY of evidence, management was NOT happy that the line was stopped.