Quality Pioneer in Trouble !!!


When we discuss quality management philosophies, Toyota and Total Quality Management is always discussed. The name Toyota was synonymous with quality because they pioneered and mastered the philosophy of TQM. In management 301, TQM was introduced as the “Toyota Way”. So why is toyota in trouble? What happened?? what went wrong?

The Toyota quality lapse officially started in sep 2009 with Toyota recalling 3.8million US vehicles due to floor mat problems causing the accelerator to get stuck. Next official recalling was announced in 2010 for the same problem but this time without the presence of floor mats and included 4 models, Rav4, Corolla, Camry and highlander. Further more, the same year, jan 2010, Toyota temporarily suspended sales and production of the models involved in the pedal issue. Next on February 9 2010, Toyota recalls 437,000 prius and other hybrid vehicles worldwide to fix break issues. Same year, on 12th February recalls about 8000 tacoma pickup trucks to fix propeller shift problems that cause the vehicle to lose control.

Experts say that the company expanded rapidly over the past decade to capitalize on the strong demand but failed to train staff to meet the company’s high quality standards. Part of the reason for the quality lapse is directed towards the growing demand and shifting of production outside japan.  Koji Ando, An analyst at Advanced Research Japan says, “Toyota knows it can never go back to the things used to be. It is still going to cut costs; it is still going to localize manufacturing. Furthermore, Toyota is known as a follower of Demings philosophy which states improving quality lead to reduced costs due to less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays and better use of machine-time and material which in turn improves productivity. Which will furthermore lead to larger market share and more business. Again the same question, what happened?

If Deming’s was asked, he would say,” 94% of all the problems in the workplace are problems not with the workers, and not their performance but with the SYSTEM.”

What could be the reason behind the massive quality lapse in toyota production system? are the labors to be blamed or the management?