In terms of improving the production quality in manufacturing industry, there is no doubt that Japanese entrepreneurs are most outstanding. From the experience of the Toyota in manufacturing the automobiles and today's leading manufacturer, the applied philosophy that they usually keep in the four corners of their organization is also introduced in the Western society. The manufacturing systems dramatically changed through their application in some of their philosophies like "kaizen", which promotes changes for betterment. The same philosophical view is emphasized in the assessment of pull based approach.
The function in operation among the manufacturing organizations has a good relative distinction with their competitors. Although this idea is very obvious, the manufacturing organizations are still trying to avoid the competition. Their main objective is however, to guard their distinctive competence against their contemporaries while at the same time, sustain the growth of this competence in order to gain more competitive advantages. In the growing influence of globalization such as the introduction of technologies and concerns in management as well as marketing, the organizations are attempting to discover the other values that the manufacturing sector might give them. For such, their exploitation of the resources, the leaders occupied the idea in facilitating the management in their operation. Furthermore, the firm's knowledge in producing the products underwent into series of adjustment such as applying the concepts of batch production, mass production, customize production, and continuous production. But again, the distinctive competence of the organization is considered which can help the organizations in facilitating the projects matched to the demands.
The world of manufacturing industry is such a broad concept which attracted many of the researchers, students, and business analyst attentions. The focus of the paper is to describe the distinctive competence of the manufacturing organizations that enables them to create decisions in managing their projects and acquired unique and actual position in the market. The main aim of the study is to have a detailed study on the operations management that were employed by the manufacturing organizations. In order to understand the relative values regarding the operations management there are objectives that need to consider. First is to understand how a service is generated and delivered to the customer using one service delivery system. The chosen organization is under the manufacturing industry which is Toyota. Second is exploring the in-depth the operations management activities in the organization. Third is to assess the various functions or methods that the organization implements towards their operation. And fourth is to describe one particular problem that is currently facing by Toyota or might have faced by the organization. Through these areas of concern, the study can have provided an organized information and quality conclusion that can contribute in both academic context and practical business application.
Background of the Organization: Toyota
Toyota's ability in performing within the manufacturing captured the attention of the researchers in the operations management. The production system of the Toyota symbolized the modern production and operations management which is also considered as the model of the manufacturing industry. The production system that were implemented by the organization includes the JIT (Just-In-Time), Kaizen, Kanban, and Jidoka that enables them to facilitate the production process in quality. The introduction of the Toyota Production System (TPS) was originally come from the idea of Taiichi Ohno, who worked in automotive business as an assembly manager (Lewis & Slack, 2003). Through his experience and experiments regarding the various ways in setting the appropriate equipment, he introduces a system in order to produce the right products within the timely manner. For over the years, Toyota were unmatched by its contemporaries and even if they open their production processes with the rivalries, they remained undefeated in the automotive manufacturing industry. Because of the opportunities that Toyota enjoyed and their expertise in handling the production process, their competitors managed to apply the same process but they can't get near to the performance of the organization (Barnes, 2008).
The success and failure of an organization is described to be part of the operation management techniques in which the TPS trying to demonstrate. The core processes of the TPS in the operation is focused and concentrated on the lean manufacturing which is also describe in Western adaptation of the TPS. The role of Toyota in manufacturing hence, became the role model of the manufacturing organizations because of their production system (Bounds, 1996). However, other than the TPS and the concept of production processes, the participation of the human elements in designing the operation production of the manufacturing systems is also an important factor. It also highlighted the differences in between the Japanese culture with the Western cultures particularly in how to manage the future of manufacturing. The cost effective and long-term productivity of the production processes allows the Toyota to sustain their operations in the industry. The demand in vehicles also is a great influence in transforming the production processes in the operations schemes (Lewis & Slack, 2003).
Operations in the form of Management
Generally, the operations management is concerned in planning, analysis, design, control and management of the processes that are involved in the transformation of the materials into the final product. This simple illustration or presentation of the flow of activities also integrates with the elements of people, equipment, facilities or plantation, materials, and so on. All of the processes and methods employed are placed under the appropriate monitoring and management to satisfy the demands of the customers through the products and services. Towards the efficient operations management in the midst of the globalization while at the same time continuously developing and maintaining the competitive advantage. Toyota's performance has maintained its reputation in terms of quality production because it allows itself to be engaged with the reflective design, testing, and improvement while ensuring that every employee is contributing in the overall production (Johnston, 2001).
Cost Control in JIT Philosophy
In using JIT production, the company may increase the traceability of the cost because JIT classified the indirect to become direct. Such example is the maintenance, the indirect laborers are also considered as the production workers or part of the firm. There is also a significant elimination of cost in several activities because JIT eliminates the activities that do not add values. This also decreases the amount of the information in terms of production costs or in labor costs as the system considers the individual as a team.
The JIT inventory system is one of the most frequently models used as a TQM and control tool to avoid the failure and too much wastes. This idea has been introduced and applied within the automotive systems. Because of the learning regarding the associated failures in the mass production of some manufacturing firms, the JIT aims for the tactics wherein the risks minimized and delivering the well-coordinated in production processes (Hinrichs & Crepas, 1997).
The philosophy of JIT is already adopted in many countries. It focuses on the undertaking of activities as needed or demanded and driving the four aspects that is more engaged in the cost engagement. First is the elimination of all of the activities that do not add the values in the product or in the service because it focuses more broadly in reduction of the cost. Second is the commitment given to the high level of quality because of the philosophy in doing the work for the first with no time allowed to re-do or to repeat the work. Third is the commitment for the continuous improvement in terms of the efficiency of an activity. The last is giving emphasis on the simplification and increased visibility of the activities that do not add any value into it (Younies & Barhem, 2007).
Due to the continuous development in the manufacturing industry, the JIT philosophy introduced the principle of customer pull. This concept states the idea that the companies should not push their products to the customers; instead let the customers pull the products and services including the "value" and the associated link within the production chain (Manotas Duque & Cadavid, 2007). Since the aim of the modern generation in manufacturing industry leads to efficiency in the processes, the reduction in inventory levels and accompanied with the perfect timing of material, parts, and other supplies are ideal in the production processes. Therefore, the demands of production are now just in time, not weeks or even days before. This emphasis places pressure on suppliers throughout the entire system. They are all pressured to shorten the timing in order to meet the demands of the primary producer.
In emphasizing the agenda of cost efficiency in the organizations, the evolution of technological approach became evident in the practice such as the idea of cost accounting. Within the dimensions of computer integrated environment in manufacturing systems, there involves five interrelated objectives. First is the increase in the product quality; second is to shorten the time among the non-value added activities (e.g. setting the machineries); third is to reduce the inventory level and enhancing the pull based methods over the push-through approach; fourth is to develop the flexibility and feasibility in manufacturing systems; an fifth is to work fully integrated and coordinated in the production system through the centralized computer (Lewis, 1993).
Within the supply chain management, the idea of "time-based competition" plays a significant role in order to gain competitive advantage and accelerate (Christopher & Peck, 2003). Therefore, the supply chain management within the manufacturing operations involves the synchronized decision making and activities in order to utilize the essential elements while targeting profitability at a minimal cost (Li, 2007). An efficient supply chain management should reflect in the start of the production and end-to-end process until finally received by the customers and satisfy them as well (Swaminathan, 2000). The challenge for the firms engaged in supply chain management is to use the tool to identify the supply chain issues or problems and eventually, correct them. The supplied term "cause" is referred to the lower order of dimension and the term "effect" is for the higher order dimension. Commonly in business, the existence of cause can be attributed to the late forecasts or insufficient information and the effect is the result which often described as the poor inventory availability (Foggin, Mentzer, and Monroe, 2004).
Planning and Control in Kaizen
Lean manufacturing philosophy started in late 1800s from Japan with the concept of "Kaizen". Kaizen was designed in the Japanese management to stop the production processes if there is any problem recognized (Berggren and Dalgaard, 2009). Once again, the effective communication and collaboration of the people can be developed within the team and unites them to achieve their purpose. The concept was based on the notion that no product or process can reach a point where it cannot be improved further (Khalil, Khan, & Mahmood, 2006). The practical implementation such as the team collaboration in the face of Japanese's management is hard to copy. From the very beginning, the organization is seeking for the young wherein they can be trained and have a potential in staying in the company longer. The application of the Japanese management started from their culture to continue the recognized strengths, review the current problems and find specific answer to it (Kono, 2001). Because of the influence of globalization in various business environments, it is natural for the business leaders to act in the common goal. Providing what is best needed for the organization remains the focus of the various organizations.
From the professional view of the business leaders, the technologies and the use of the system are great help to achieve the advantages. But in the world where leading technologies and innovative systems rule, it only leads to intense competition. Furthermore, the option to use the various research strategies, marketing application, and managerial approaches is not easy because of the growing effects of the globalization. With this case, the organizations' sets other strategies and action by focusing on the area where there is a weak point. Changes are always applied in every type of organization. Because of the globalization and the influence of economic changes, the manufacturing industry are expected to effective and yet efficient. In the introduction of Kaizen philosophy, like what was implemented in Toyota served as an effective motivation for other manufacturing industries. Because of the growing popularity of the Japanese manufacturing concept is the opportunity seen by other manufacturers.
Many successful organizations allowed the practice and be passed from generations. The recognized benefit of this practice is that, it allows the people to collaborate with other member of the team and scrutinize the operation based on their knowledge and experience. This type of practice was applied to Toyota, which is one of the leading automobile producers in their country. Based on the Japanese management techniques, an employee can enhance his own potential through his own explorations (Tippu, 2006). Through the effective rotation of the roles, the organization can discover the best position for the person, therefore, the right people for the right position is resolved. On the other hand, still the HR managers' seeks for the effectiveness of the employees towards the execution and operation.
Processing Control in Kanban
The process involved in pull based approach starts in the production chain in communicating with the suppliers on the way that materials are not released and activities are not done until needed. This kind of discipline in pull strategy is possible through the use of kanbans that can be physical or electronic mechanisms in order to transmit the need for the parts and subassemblies from one point in the process until the preceding one (Manotas Duque & Cadavid, 2007). Kanban is a card in which Toyota uses two types of- a production card and a move card. The system works in the manufacturing process where parts are moved between work centers in standard containers which hold only a small, predetermined number of parts. When a work center empties one of these containers, it sends the empty container to the supplier work center accompanied by a move card. At the supplier work center the move card is removed and placed in a finished container of parts, thus authorizing the moving of this container to the demander work center (see Appendices).
The finished container of parts previously was accompanied by a production card. When the move card is placed into this container, the production card is removed and added to the work schedule of the supplier work center. Thus, the production card authorizes the production of another container of items. When the new container is filled, the production card is placed back into the full container at the storage area of the supplier work center (step 4), waiting for a move card to arrive again to claim the container.
The move cards are sent from demander work centers to supplier work centers to claim containers of parts. When a container is taken, a production card is removed and used to signal a new batch of production at the supplier work center. Therefore, a work center doesn't begin production of a new batch of items until a previously produced batch is taken away. Of course, most work centers are both suppliers and demanders, receiving move cards in their role of supplier and sending move cards in their role as demander (Summers, 1998).
In the pull based approach, the advantages can be measured through the objective of manufacturing environment. Because the firm is aiming to improve quality, the globalization and introduction of technological opportunities is enough to produce a computer-integrated manufacturing system (CIMS) that is related technological changes and provide the means for improving not only the product quality but also the associated processes (Lewis, 1993). The use of the philosophical views is additional benefit because it can be the founding element to provide appropriate execution.
The benefits can be measured by the use of kanbans to coordinate the production in the different areas in workstations as well as the company with the suppliers, enabling them to execute the JIT system. This is because the kanban pull system is meant for production control (Ketokivi & Schroeder, 2003). The consistency of the procedure applies when the firm has applied the JIT delivery concept and the pull system concept in the operational link with customers (Matsui & Phan, 2006), and the processes are well-tracked, such as the transformation of the materials, under the JIT operation (Manotas Duque & Cadavid, 2007). The use of kanban for pull approach is a kind of process that provides signaling mechanisms in order to inform the previous stage in the process that a certain number of specific parts are required. In the analysis of the use of kanbans, the processes are important to facilitate the raw materials towards the finished products. In the generation of manufacturing processes, many manufacturing firms use the JIT and the accompanied processing control. Therefore, the firm might find competitive edge if they successfully adopted the developments in the Lean/JIT strategies. The idea of lean marketing brought the use of kanbans as part of the inventory control system (Nataraajan & Sersland, 2002).
Manpower Function in Jidoka
To complete the Toyota Production System, Jidoka is a kind of automation process that enables the human touch or manpower function. If Taiichi Ohno created the TPS concept, the root of jidoka is traced from Sakichi Toyoda, who is the founder of Toyota Group. The process is also called as "autonomation" which is a practice of stopping a manual line or process when something goes inappropriate. This serves as pillar knowledge of the TPS that focuses on producing the quality processes. From the invention of automatic looms which refers to as a machine that spins the threads for cloth and weaves the textile automatically (Hu, 2008), see Appendices for the illustration. The first automation loom is called the "Type-G Toyoda Automatic Loom" which is designed to change the shuttles without even stopping the operation. The Toyota's application of Jidoka is different from those machines that move with the supervision and supervision of an operator. The term "jido" is referred to the strategy wherein the machine can move on its own. If the weaving process or the loom stopped when the machine experienced problems, the production process is ensured that there are no any defective products that slipped by in their overall processes. The operator could be put in charge of the numerous process which results in the improvement and productivity. When the problem occurs, the operator can monitor and control many machines that are related to that main machine. As part of the feature of this machine is that there is a visual control or the ability of the operator to visualize the entire process in order to identify the problem within the production (Toyota Global).
Through the autonomation process, the lean manufacturing strategy in production is emphasized specially when the firm is involved in the high production nature and composed of various operations. The organization expects to realize some of the benefits from Jidoka because of its capacity in detecting the problem easy and early. In addition it prevents the bad practices within the operation because there is an important role played by humans in through their intelligence and is combined with the machineries. Toyota's productivity do not only entails the efficiency but also manufacturing the high quality products as it traces the proper judgement and inviting the continuous improvement (Hu, 2008). The manufacturing techniques implemented by Toyota had a major effect in the approaches applied by Western manufacturing organizations. The combination of the human knowledge and skills with the computer or machineries plays an important role in the overall processes such as assisting the JIT process. The control on the manufacturing processes incorporates the human skills in order to correct the problems and solve the difficulties which can highlight the quality in overall production process (Thomas, 2007).
Constraint or Problem
Production function is a step-by-step process and the use of the technologies is one of the most difficult features of modernized organization. But in Toyota, although Kaizen presented the benefits that an organization might possess, the Kaizen methodology received disadvantages particularly in the storage method. Staying with the current method and applying the Kaizen might increase the risks such as generating excessive wastes. Most of the tools or machineries are very difficult to operate and thus very bulky and heavy. In addition the equipment relocation is highly required which will create another fraction of investment that might cause burden to the organization. The storage facilities are difficult to carry out such as the overhead racks and it should be constructed over the entire length of the building. The adjustments and processes in the adoption of Kaizen is also requires the longer training and practices to work efficiently and thus more wastes are created (Lee, Dugger, & Chen, 2000).
Furthermore, the operation should be matched with the speed as well as the system being implemented in the operation. And in order to apply the machineries smoothly, there should be a construction for guides. In weighing the advantages and disadvantages, it seems that the organization will recognize more of the disadvantages before realizing the efficiency of the process.
Conclusion and recommendations