Fire in a Toyota plant yesterday – actually a supplier plant, but you know how that works – the name of the supplier is Toyota Auto Body and the Toyodas own better than 50%. It looks like it is going to put them further behind on Prius shipments. They must have been an "S" short in the paint drying area the day the fire broke out. Details of the fire are all over the news – except whether anyone was hurt. What’s a small matter like that when there is still market share to worry about, huh?
In Detroit, nothing changes. If you are a glutton for punishment you can click on this link to read an interview with the big cheese at Delphi. He waxes eloquently for several paragraphs on all of the things that caused Delphi to fail. Not a word about management, though. I guess the people in control of everything at Delphi still see themselves as victims in all of this.
Best thing GM and Delphi could do would be to continue the trend they began when they sold off EMD. For those who don’t know, EMD stands for Electro-Motive Division. Used to be a division of GM until they sold ’em back in January. They make locomotives for railroads – kind of, any way. The other big player in that game is GE who kinda makes locomotives too. By ‘kind of’ I mean they pride themselves on how much of it they can outsource. GE celebrated several months ago – they were literally thrilled when they announced that they had reached the point where more than 50% of the actual manufacturing was done by someone other than GE.
Their loss is Boise, Idaho’s gain. An outfit called Motive Power is up to 650 people and planning to add another 50 in a few months. (They had less than 300 employees a year ago.) They are more than happy to do the work, and even happier to make good money in the process. Their secret: "We continually look to improve process and flow, part of the lean manufacturing culture," says the guy in charge of manufacturing. I wonder why GM and GE didn’t think of that?
Idaho, of all the unlikely places, is getting to be a regular lean manufacturing hotbed. The people who make Buck Knives moved the whole outfit to Idaho from California a while back and they are going after everything lean they can get their hands on. The lean grapevine is full of good stuff about the Buck family and the folks they have working for them.