Japan News


Japan News - What`s happening at Toyota Motor Corporation and the Japanese manufacturing industry. Check here weekly for updates.

November 2011

Toyota Begins Corolla Production in Mississippi
On November 17, TMC began production in Mississippi. At the opening ceremony, Toyota President Mr. Akio Toyoda quoted Elvis Presley..."Wiseman said only fools rush in...Toyota was patiently waiting for 3 years (since the Lehman shock) and now finally the time has come." Mississippi has experienced a high rate of unemployment and it is expected that the new plant will contribute to the revitalization of the local economy.

Production increases & Toyota provides monthly lunches
Toyota Motor Corporation now provides free lunch once a month to all employees. Production has returned to normal after the Thailand flood crisis and other challenges. Staff are will be working extra hard. The free monthly lunch is a gesture of appreciation and recognition.

Honda Robot`s Advanced Technology
The Honda Asimo, a robot with extraordinary talents was shown to be able to jump on one leg and open bottle lids. Click here to see Asimo in action.

The Toyota Production System Produces Results at Airports
Sales up by 15% at Japan`s Chubu International Airport (also known as Central Airport). This is despite a 10% reduction in the number of passengers. TPS, Kaizen and QC activities have been implemented within all divisions.

Japanese Beer Companies report strong performance.
Kirin, Asahi & Saporo Beer companies have all conducted cost reduction activities and kaizen to increase profit. Kirin has a pharmaceutical division that is particularly strong. Asahi`s softdrink`s division is reporting good profit.

All major Japanese Trading Companies have reported a Large Increase in Sales & Profit
Mitsubishi, Itosu, Mitsu Busan, Sumitomo, & Toyota Tsusho have all performed strongly due to the international price increase of natural resources.

Prius`s price will increase November 29th in Japan
In order to ensure their profit, Toyota will increase the Prius sales price by 120,000 yen.

For our interview with Mr. Kato, Fmr Toyota Motor Corporation Managing Director, on Toyota Way`s take on the Theory of Constraints, click here.

For our interview with Dr. Martinko on The Continuous Improvement Process in Europe, click here.

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May 2011

Toyota Production Up to 70% production capacity
Japan News Reported on May 12: Toyota Motor Corporation announced that they will be increasing their production in North America from the beginning of June from 30% to 70% of the pre-disaster production volumes,since the parts supply chain system has been resolved earlier than expected.

The recovery is two months ahead of the schedule. Eight models including a medium size car, Camry, and a compact, Corolla, will be produced in full operation.

The recovery in production will alleviate the sluggish conditions and will increase sales.

All Production Lines Recommenced at four Richo Plants in the Earthquake Area.
Japan News Reported on May 10: Toner production restarted on a full scale at the North Eastern Ricoh at Shibata-cho, Miyagi Prefecture. In addition to the lines, which have already been in operation since April 26, all others have been put into full operation at Ricoh`s four plants.

TOKAI CARBON CO., LTD. Resumes Production in December
Japan News Reported on May 10: Tokai Carbon expressed their prospective recommencement in December at the Ishimaki Plant in Ishimaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. Carbon black used to be made at the plant prior to the disaster, which has the production capacity of sixty thousand tons a year. With the factory building remained the preparation for restarting will go on, by exchanging equipment while conducting inspection on the status of the damages. They will have the amount of investment, the volume of production and other details yet to be determined.

Elpida Memory Inc. Mass-produces the Most Advanced Dram at the Hiroshoma Plant
Japan News Reported on May 2: Elpida Memory Inc. one of the largest semiconductors producers announced that they have developed a highly advanced DRAM, which has been processed by the world smallest circuit line with the width of 25 nanometers. The Dram is a memory for reading and writing which requires a storage action. Mass production will start in July at the Hioshima Plant, Hiroshima City. Samsung Electronics is much advanced in the area of DRAM mass-production in size 30s nanometer. However,the success in the development of the nanometer in size 20s this time has been made for the first time in the world, according to Elpida, which will increase the number of chips obtained from one piece of silicon wafer drastically. The current consumption can be reduced by 15% to 20% compared with the DRAM of a 30 nanometers made by Elapid. Furthermore, terminals such as a smart phone (multi-functional cellular phone) can be made much smaller in size.
Source: Business & Technology Daily News)

Tottori Institute of Industrial Technology Reduced the Equipment Use Fees for the Industries of the Disaster Stricken Prefectures
Japan News Reported on May 1: Tottori Institute of Industrial Technology reduced the equipment use fees and the analysis fees by 50% for the industries in the area ravaged by the earthquake, namely in: Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaragi and Tochiji.

Tottori Institute of Industrial Technology consists of three centers: the Electronic and Organic Material Research Center in Tottori City, the Machine Material Research Center in Yonago City and the Food Development Center in Sakaiminato City. Out of the three centers, the Electronic and Organic Material Research Center is fully equipped with advanced measurement and evaluation equipment on LED such as optical measurement examination devices.
Source: Business & Technology Daily News

April 2011

Process Improvement Japan, Japan`s earthquake disaster and manufacturing news

34 Academic Societies including Applied Physics Society Made a Statement on post Japan Earthquake Disaster Initiatives
Japan News Reported on April 29th:34 academic societies with the total membership of 440,000, comprising the Applied Physics Society, the Japan Chemical Society and the Japan Machinery Society, compiled their proposal titled “the Chairperson’s Statement of the 34 Academic Societies” on what to do after the East Japan Earthquake. Details include:
①A thorough implementation of support for students and young scholars to continue their study and research,
②A speedy reconstruction of the disaster stricken university facilities, research centers and large size science research facilities and an establishment of support systems on education and research
③Transmitting correct information about the nuclear plant disaster in collaboration with international academic societies to avoid harmful rumors in the domestic and international arenas.
Japan News will continue to gather information on how Japan`s organizations are collaborating to aid in the recovery of the north east Japan region.
Source:Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Ltd. (Business & Technology Daily News)

Toyota Motor Corporation Profits Up.
Japan News Reported on April 29th: Nine out of Ten Major Toyota Group Companies Report an Increase in both Sales and Operating Profit during the financial period ending March 2011. The increase sales and operating profits is attributed to the international production expansion prior to the East Japan earthquake period.

However, the drastic reduction of production volumes because of the disaster kept the profit levels lower than what was originally expected. Since normalization of TMC`s operations cannot be expected until the condition are reviewed around November or December, Toyota Motor Corporation representatives refrained from stating their expected results for the next term. TMC`s performance will largely depend on how they fair during the period between April and June.

“We have been put in a position where parts purchasing in six months time is not assured.” We have insufficient data to express our prospects,” said Mr. Nobuaki Kato, President of Denso, "Although we had experienced a sudden reduction in our production volumes with an anxiety toward the unforeseeable future right after the Lehman shock, we were still able to make a future forecasting. Yet this time, we are yet to see what will take place due to the indefinite scale of damages caused by Japan`s earthquake disaster."
Japan News will continue to monitor Toyota Motor Corporation`s movements throughout the year.

Honda Doubled Net Profit for the financial year ending March 2011
Japan News Reported on April 29th: Honda announced today that they increased operational profit by 56.6%, which amounts to 56, 97 billion yen, while the net income increased by 99.0% which comes to 53.40 billion yen. While the loss of 4.57 billion yen caused by the disaster and the appreciation of yen adversary affected their operations, they were able to increase sales of four wheel vehicles in North America and motorcycles in emerging markets, which resulted in the dramatic increase in profits. Although the next term’s prospect have not been disclosed, their operational plan will be prepared by the end of May.

Sales increased by 4.2%, which amounts to 8 trillion 936.8 billion yen for the same period. The sales of four wheel vehicles rose by 3.5%, units, while the motorcycles recorded 18.7% increase. Honda sold 11.445.000 units internationally in the financial period ending March 2011.

Mr. Fumihiko Ike, Honda`s Executive Managing Director, stated, “The domestic production of four wheel vehicles will remain at 50% until June. As far as the overseas operation is concerned, the period between July and September might be even more restricted as the consequences of the earthquake and ensuing damages, parts supply and supply chain difficulties have extended worldwide.”

All of the Five Disaster Stricken Plants of Ezaki Glico Restarted Operations
Japan News Reported on April 29th: Suspended production due to the disaster resumed at the Glico group companies. North Eastern Glico Dairy Co., Ltd. (Kami-cho, Miyagi Pre.) started with part of their products on April 23 and the Nasu plant of Glico Diary Product Co., Ltd. on 24. All the five earthquake stricken plants of Glico have given a restart to their operations as of today.
Source: Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Ltd. (Business & Technology Daily News)

Kuwait Extends Aid of 5 million Barrel Crude Oil
Japan News Reported on April 28th:H.E. Mr. Abdul-Rahman Humood A R Al-Otaibi, Kuwaiti Ambassador to Japan, visited Mr. Banri Kaieda, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry on April 27 to hand a note notifying gratuitous aid of 5 million barrel crude oil valued at 45 billion yen to support Japan’s reconstruction effort from the east Japan earthquake disaster, which is the greatest aid extended from abroad. The amount of oil is almost the same as what Japan consumes in one day, which amounts to 5% of the oil Japan imports from Kuwait. Mr. Otaibi said that this is a token of appreciation to reciprocate the support from Japan at the time of the Gulf War.

Minister Kaieda expressed his gratitude,“We would like to utilize the aid to help the disaster stricken people.” Mr. Otaibi emphasized the importance of friendship by saying, “Japan has been making a great contribution to the progress of not only Kuwait but also the world communities. We should be Japan’s neighbor especially at time of crisis."
Source: Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Ltd. (Business & Technology Daily News)

Mitsubishi Heavy Industry Has Developed Special Forklift To Remove rubble In and Around the Nuclear Power Plant
Japan News Reported on April 28th: Mitsubishi Heavy Industry announced on April 27 that they have developed a special forklift to move rubble of up to 9 tons in the vicinity of the Tokyo Power Electric Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The cabin mounted blocks radiation from all directions, applying army tank technology and nuclear related cover technology. Two forklifts will be delivered to the joint venture group consisting of the major construction companies: Taisei, Kashima and Shimizu.

The cabin is made of steel board with thickness of 100mm and flint glass with a thickness of 230 mm. With all side welding structure, high level of sealing has been ensured. It can shut off radiation in the range from 1/50 to 1/100. It also eliminates dust by an air purifier. The size of the forklift is 7.3 meters long, 2.5 meters wide and the height 3.8 meters with the weight of 30 tons.
Source: Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Ltd. (Business & Technology Daily News)

TMC and WiTricity Form Wireless Battery-charging Alliance
Japan News Reported on April 28th:Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has entered into a technological collaboration agreement with Massachusetts, United States based WiTricity Corporation* concerning the practical application of automotive wireless charging systems and the promotion of their widespread use. TMC plans to participate in a WiTricity capital increase.

WiTricity's charging technology uses resonance, which allows charging without direct contact and is more efficient than electromagnetic-induction, another wireless technology—but one that requires contact—that is starting to come of age in mobile phone and other chargers. TMC believes that resonance wireless charging is suitable for automobiles and aims for its early practical use.

The collaboration is aimed to accelerate development and eventual implementation ofwireless charging for automobiles. The charging of a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle could be as simple and convenient as parking near an embedded charger at a home or in a parking facility.

In the Toyota Global Vision announced in March, TMC expressed its commitment to leading the way to the future of mobility by integrating automobiles, homes and information technology. Wireless charging is just one of the many technologies TMC seeks to develop for the future.
Source: Toyota Public Relations

Back to Two Shift Production at Suzuki Motor Corporation Today, First Time after the Disaster
Japan News Reported on April 25th: Suzuki Motor Corporation returned to the pre-disaster production system with two shifts from the one shift daytime operation on April 25th, which took place at the four wheel vehicle assembling plants both in Kosai City and Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture. This change was the first after the East Japan Earthquake on March 14th. The rate of operation in all the plants of Suzuki Motor has come up to 65%. For six days before and after the Golden Week, they work two shifts. The production schedule on and after May 9th, has not been determined yet.
Source: Nikkan Kogyo Shinbun Ltd. (Business & Technology Daily News)

Future Traffic Systems on Exhibit at the Toyota Museum till July : Innovation the Focus
Japan News Reported on April 24th:The Special Exhibition “The Future Traffic Society and Vehicles” is on now until July 3 at the Toyota Museum, Nagakute, Nagakute-Town, Aichi Pref., Japan.

The theme of this event is “Traffic Systems,” that covers the roads in the future. The traffic society free from carbon dioxide is projected by video and diorama. “Intelligent Transport System” which eliminates traffic congestion by information technology in communication is also presented likewise. In addition, there are seven plug-in-hybrid vehicles on exhibit, which is enabled to charge with a home power outlet. The presentation on new traffic systems such as “Linimo” is also available on the site.

Mr. Takahiko Sugiura, Head of the Museum Attendants, said, “Creation of our future society with advanced traffic system should be made by people’s wisdom, not only by the development of industries. It would be great if visitors could have an opportunity to think of an idea to make even half a step forward toward our better future,”
Source: Chunichi Newspaper, Nagoya Japan

80% Discount of Landing Fees for New International Cargo Service at Central Japan International Airport
Japan News Reported on April 22nd:Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd. (Tokomae City, Aichi Pref. Japan) announced they will introduce a new discount system, which gives an 80% reduction on landing fees to new international cargo flights. This new system accommodates the airline and logistic companies for their first service year, when they open a new route or when they increase the number of flights. This is also applied when a larger size air freighter is introduced for their operations. The airport company will continue this system for two years. Until last autumn, a discount within the limit of 50% was applied over the past two years in the international cargo flights. By the substantial raise of the discount rate this time, they would like to increase the number of cargo flights and stop the trend of shrinking volume in their logistic operations..

The landing fee is determined by the weight of an aircraft; the fee at Central Japan International Airport for landing is ¥1,660 per ton, which will be cut down to ¥332 in the new system. In the case of B747-400type (Jumbo Jet), the fee will come to approximately ¥130,000- a reduction of about ¥500,000.

Currently, the airport is experiencing sluggish operations with only 20 flights a week, while at the peak period of February, 2006, there used to be 54. Due to the reduced routes, industrial products from the Central District of Japan are flowed out to the other major airports such as Narita and Kansai, which keeps the volume of export and import from increasing at Central Japan International Airport.

The airport company said, “We are ready to provide measures superior to other airports that include financial support by as much as 10 million yen.”
Source: Chunichi Newspaper, Nagoya Japan

North Eastern Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) Restarts Full Operations in the Entire lines on April 29, Including New “Hayabusa”
Japan News Reported on April 22nd: JR East Japan announced that they are going to restart full line operations between Tokyo and Aomori by April 29. JR said, out of all the suspended operations between Fukushima and Morioka, they will restart operations to the line between Ichinoseki and Morioka on April 23, between Fukushima and Sendai on April 25, and between Sendai and Ichinoseki on April 29.

The New Type Models of the 5th system, "The Hayabusa,” which made a debut on March 5 before Japan`s earthquake disaster, will also make one round trip between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori, and between Tokyo and Sendai.

Toyota Motor Corporation Focuses on the Shanghai Motor Show though Sluggish Chinese Sales Expected.
Japan News Reported on April 19th: Japanese Auto Makers Presenting Latest HV models Shanghai Motor Show Open

Shanghai Motor Show, the China’s biggest auto exhibition, began on April 19th at the New Shanghai International Exhibition Center. Japanese Auto makers are focusing on HV’s and compact models in their presentations. As for the small size cars, their efforts have not been rewarded so far in the Chinese market. Although the China’s world largest economic growth is expected to stay No.1 for two consecutive years to come, a decline in auto sales may be unavoidable due to the unstable supply of component parts caused by the east Japan Great Earthquake.

Toyota is trying to project their uniqueness in “ZERAS”, a new model just introduced in the market toward the end of March, and another called an “E’Z", which is planned to appear at the mid-year period. In addition, an ALPHARD and other vehicles designed for welfare purposes are on exhibit.

Toyota established the world largest test course in the compound of the Research and Development Center in Jiangshu, Changshu, China last autumn, where various road conditions are reproduced to have prototype models and cars on the Chinese market run for trial. President Toyoda expressed his desire, “We would like to give training to our models to satisfy our Chinese customers.”

Honda presented a HV model mounted with a lithium-ion battery for the first time internationally.

With the totals of 1,100 models manufactured by 2,000 companies from 20 countries on public view, the organizer expects some 700,000 visitors to come during the show, which will be open for the public from April 23 to 28. Japan News source for this story: Chunichi newspaper, Nagoya, Japan.

Toyota Motor Corporation Restarts Production
Japan News Reported on April 18th:Toyota Restarted Production at All Toyota Plants in Japan Today: It is the first time since the earthquake. The rate of operation will stay 50% for the time being.

Toyota Motor Corporation restarted its vehicle production at the fourteen domestic plants on April 18, which had been suspended due to the East Japan Great earthquake. Including two disaster stricken bases in the north eastern region of Japan, the production lines began operations at all 17 production bases after about a five week halt. Even at Miyagi Plant of Central Motor Co., Ltd., an affiliated company of Toyota, disaster stricken team members from the local area came back to the production sites.

However, some problem in parts delivery and supply remains unsolved. This problem will keep the rate of operation from rising over 50%. There is no telling when they can put into full operation.

Employees were seen commuting to work from six-thirty in the morning. At eight o’clock, some 800 members gave a silent prayer and meditation at their morning meeting. After reciting “Gambaro” (Let’s go forward!) out loud three times, they got down to their duties.

Also on April 18th, at Kanagasaki town, Iwate Prefecture, a Toyota’s affiliated company, Kanto Auto Works, resumed their operation at the Iwate Plant.

The Miyagi Plant of Central Motor stopped production as equipment had been damaged in the earthquake. All but some one hundred employees who were involved in disaster relief work.

For the month of April, the rate of operation will be limited to 25% of the pre-disaster level. Later the production of the main product “Corolla” will be transferred from the Sagami Plant, Sagami Prefecture and after the Golden week holiday (April 29 - May 5) is over, they will raise the rate of operation up to 50%.

An 18 year old new male recruit, who just started in April said,“Frankly speaking, I was very worried that there would be a cancellation of employment. Although the initiation ceremony was postponed until April 11, I am happy to work without major mishaps.”

Another 22 year old male staff stated, “I am full of expectations thanks to the restart of production. I would like to help the community to rise from the devastation by doing my duty.

After the earthquake, the availability of component parts such as electronic parts was not ensured in the automotive sectors. Toyota was looking into the restarting time of production at all the production bases, while they were making HV cars with an advanced schedule at three plants including Tsutsumi plant (Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture) where Prius are being produced.

Almost 150 items are still in inconsistent supply. Therefore, the rate of operation will remain at 50% until June 3. The recovery in production for the coming period depends on the status of the electronic parts suppliers and the power supply status.

On April 18th, Nissan also restarted production at Iwaki plant, Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture and Tochigi Plant, Mikami Town, Tochigi Prefecture.

Major Automakers, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have all recommenced operations at all of their productions bases.
Source: The Chunichi News Paper, Nagoya Japan
Japan News will continue monitoring this situation.

Toyota Motor Corporation`s supply chain getting back on track
Japan News Reported on April 17th: On April 16 at Sendai Port (Sendai City), some 300 cars were loaded on a large size freighter and left for Nagoya. Those cars had been produced before the earthquake in the Iwate Plant of Kanto Auto Works, Ltd., the core company of the Toyota Group. It was the first cargo shipped from Sendai Port after the earthquake disaster. The logistic system having been reconstructed, the Miyagi Prefectural Government is strongly anticipating that the industrial activities will restart on a full scale. The cars were being loaded one after another on the cargo ship on the morning of that day.

According to the Port Authority of the Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai Port is playing the vital role as the logistic center shipping automotive products, since the Miyagi Plant (Miyagi Prefecture) of Central Motor Co., Ltd, a Toyota Group company, started its operation last January in the north eastern region of Japan.

Deputy Manager of the Port Authority Takashi Hashiura stated, “Now that the logistic systems are set in order, we expect that industrial activities will rise vigorously.”
Japan News will continue monitoring this situation.

Dr. Keen, Professor Emeritus, Colombia University, to Reside in Japan Permanently
Japan News Reported on April 14th: Dr. Keen Permanently Intends to Live in Japan. Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, specialist in Japanese Literature, Donald Keene stated on April 14 at the interview by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), “Now is the time, especially after such a disaster in the eastern Japan, when I would like to express my faith to Japan, the country that I love. And he expressed his desire to obtain Japanese nationality and reside in Japan permanently.

Prof. Donald Keene, who is 88 years of age, has been engaged in research on Japanese literature for more than half a century, which earned him the Order of Cultural Merit from the Japanese Government in 2008.

He accepted NHK’s interview at his home in New York on April 14 before his retirement from Columbia University at the end of this month. Having visited places in the north eastern district of Japan, while working on a translation of “OKU NO HOSO MICHI” or “The Narrow Road to Oku” by Matsuo Basho (Famous Ancient Haiku Poet), he was totally shocked to know the news about such a great disaster this time. He witnessed that many members of international companies living in Japan were called back to their home countries and some professional baseball players from abroad quit and left Japan. As such, it has been said that staying in Japan is dangerous. “That is all more the reason why I express my belief toward Japan. After retirement, I will acquire Japanese nationality and live in Japan for the rest of my life.” Dr. Keene added a word of encouragement, saying “I married a woman called Japan. Everyone in Japan is a victim of this disaster. I believe the Japanese are so great a people of excellence. Although they are suffering and going through a series of hardship now, they will survive and come out even greater and stronger in the future.”

Toyota Motor Corporation to invest in International Technical Training Center and Industrial Park in Central Japan
Japan News Reported on April 12th:Toyota Motor Corporation and Tajimi City Government of Gifu Prefecture, Japan (Central Japan) entered into agreement on April 11th to build a portion of the new “Tajimi Yamabuki Techno Park.”

Toyota will purchase approximately 18.7 hectors of land from the city to construct a facility for education and training to servicing personnel of Toyota car dealers in Japan as well as Internationally. The land will be transferred to Toyota in January 2012. The amount of investment was undisclosed.

Mr. Sasaki stated, “To cope with a rapid advancement of automotive technology, we have dire needs to educate and train servicing and repair staff, while engaging in research and development on repair technology. This center is going to be an important place of learning for our members from all over the world.Mayor Furuta expressed his gratitude with a word of welcome to the Toyota Motor Corporation by saying “Toyota’s addition to our city will contribute to publicizing our local industry of fine ceramics, Tajimi wares worldwide." Japan News will keep you updated on this infrastructural development and Toyota`s expansion of International training and education.
Japan News will continue monitoring this situation.

Honda restarts limited production at Suzuka Plant
Japan News Reported on April 12th:Honda Suzuka Plant restarted production- Volume curtailed by 50% of the pre-earthquake disaster levels. It is expected that affiliated companies will also resume production. For the time being, they cannot help but limit production volume, which will adversary affect the local area`s economy.

At the Suzuka plant, there are 6,800 employees. Before the earthquake occurred, four different models were being produced including the Fit and Insight models on two production lines. The average production was 1,500 units a day. Since the earthquake, parts supply from their plant in Tochiji prefecture (East Japan) have been unavailable. On and after March 14th Honda stopped their operation at all of their their plants.

Gradually production will resume, yet at the Suzuka and Saitama plants, where four wheel vehicles are made, the recovery will be slow.

The research and development division will be transferred to Suzuka from Tochigi.

Since they will continue to have logistic problems in parts supply, the production will be limited to 50% of the previous period. There are over 50 parts suppliers in and around Suzuka.

According to a Honda staff member, they cannot tell when the curtailment will be over. It will probably last for at least six months.

Toyota Motor Corporation President, Mr. Akio Toyoda speaks to new recruits
Japan News Reported on April 11th: At Toyota, Mr. Akio Toyoda encouraged the new team members by stating, "We are confronting a series of critical conditions. Being a new recruit, there is no need to hesitate to take a positive action. Think what you can do for the company and for the country."

JR Linear Shinkansen contsruction will continue as scheduled
Japan News Reported on April 9th:The first meeting regarding the constructing of JR`s Linear Shinkansen was held on Friday. The executive members confirmed that no damage occurred to the Linear Shinkansen infrastructure during the March 11th earthquake disaster. The representatives stated that during the design phase, their engineers had factored in durability requirements and lessons learned from the 1995 Kobe earthquake. They expressed strong confidence in the completion of the project on time or even ahead of schedule. Japan News will monitor the Linear Shinkansen`s construction project.

Toyota Production re-starts production from April 18th despite continued parts supply instability
Japan News Reported on April 9th:Toyota Motor Corporation is set to restart domestic production in all of its 17 plants throughout Japan starting April 18th. Production of all 50 models are scheduled for production.

It has been 5 weeks since the earthquake and tsunami disaster hit Japan. There are still difficulties in achieving stability in parts supply but Toyota is determined to move forward.

Production levels will be limited to 50% of their pre-earthquake levels. The President of the Toyota Motor Corporation, Mr. Akio Toyoda, was strongly urged by Toyota`s suppliers and dealers to increase production to previous levels as soon as possible.

Honda set to restart full production within 3 months.
Japan News Reported on April 8th: The President of Honda, Mr. Ito, visited their Research & Development branch in North East Japan yesterday. He stated that due to the shortage of component parts, production levels remain at 50% for the time being. He expressed his strong desire to contribute to the reconstruction of the Japanese economy and asserted that full production will commence within 3 months.

March 2011

Process Improvement Japan, Japan`s earthquake disaster and manufacturing news

Toyota Production Re-starts but with Difficulties
Reported on March 30th:A total of 800,00 different parts are needed in order for the Toyota Motor Company to produce all of its models. Currently, Toyota is experiencing difficulties in producing 500 parts due to the complications and damage associated with the earthquake. In particular, the Mitsubishi Chemical plant, which produces much of Toyota`s plastic parts was damaged in the earthquake. They have stated that they will be came to restart production in two months. Other parts which are in low supply are electronic and rubber parts.

Toyota production is currently limited to three hybrid models.

World Manufacturing Disruptions
Reported on March 29th: It is estimated that 1/3 of world industrial manufacturing has been affected by the Earthquake disaster in Japan due to the shortage of parts produced by Japanese companies and supply chain disruptions. As reported in The Chunichi Daily Newspaper, Nagoya, Japan and other Japan News sources.

Prius Production Restarts
Reported on March 28th: Toyota has recommenced Prius production in Japan at two plants.

Reported on March 25th:Two major challenges and one impressive action were highlighted at a meeting today at a Toyota supplier company in Central Japan.

First, Toyota cannot forecast future production or put a strategy in place due to the ongoing crisis and uncertainty in Japan.

This is a major blow to suppliers as this follows a period of poor sales and slow production. Cash flow had already been limited before the earthquake. Full production was just about to re-start when the earthquake occurred. Now, times are very uncertain. On a positive note, Toyota has made 4 car models a priority for production, which will start in April. Japan News will keep you up to date on any new developments.

Japan News Earthquake, Process Improvement Japan

Second, the supply chain system has been broken in Japan. A car contains 30,000 parts. In order to complete production, all parts must be assembled. There are three major blockages to the reconstruction of the Japanese supply chain system - Factory damage and shut downs, Planned power cuts (due to electric power limitations), and Logistics system breakdown.
Overseas operations have also been affected due to the shortage of component parts supplied by Japan. GM plant in Louisiana had to stop operations. Two GM plants in Europe will stop operations temporarily. Japan News will continue to monitor this situation.

Of particular concern to the Toyota supplier company we spoke with, is the 3M mat for their converters. Without it, they cannot supply any exhaust systems. The only 3M supplier of these mats in Japan is located within the 30 km evacuation zone of the Fukushima nuclear plant. It remains abandoned. Suppliers have reached out to other 3M suppliers in the world. 3M is the supplier of choice because they produce a particularly high quality product. In sum, parts supply is a major issue for the manufacturing industry in Japan and this problem will continue into the future with a rippling effect internationally.

Japan News is currently gathering more data on this matter.

5s Clean factory, Process Improvement Japan

On a positive note, while the crisis is being dealt with, manufacturing companies are undergoing a major lean 5s overhaul especially the first 2s of lean 5s - Sort and Set in Order. Impressively, after only two weeks, this Toyota supplier we spoke with is ready for production. Their plants and factories have been cleaned, sorted and set in order. The power and effectiveness of the 5s system cannot be underestimated.

Disaster preparedness is what the Japanese are known for. The Toyota Motor Company and other great manufacturing companies have proven themselves during this time of crisis.

For details on lean 5s, click here.

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