Exclusive and symbiotic relationships with suppliers are valuable, especially suppliers located close to the factory.
A JIT company strives for preventive maintenance so no time is wasted, and errors are reduced or eliminated because all aspects of the production process are kept in 'tip-top' shape. Above all JIT requires a flexible workforce with workers trained "to operate several machines, to perform maintenance tasks, and to perform quality inspections" ("JIT Lecture Notes," 2006). A flexibly trained and loyal workforce has several advantages. Despite its emphasis on the benefits of innovative computer technology during certain aspects of the production process, Toyota has been commended for the great respect it showed for its workforce. "A quality at the source (jidoka) program must be implemented to give workers the personal responsibility for the quality of the work they do, and the authority to stop production when something goes wrong" for JIT to be successful ("JIT Lecture Notes," 2006). Workers must report inefficiencies and act quickly when defects in production occur. Workers felt and continue to feel more valued by Toyota because of their added skills and their greater utility as employees, given to them by the company's rigorous educational training. The JIT approach also ensures that workers' extensive knowledge itself functions as a kind of fail-safe mechanism. Worker flexibility and high levels of training and education also mean that workers can be more easily rotated to meet shifts in demand.
After observing Toyota's success, many American companies began to adopt its principles into their own corporate philosophy. However, JIT and Toyota retained certain idiosyncratic attitudes, namely a focus on continually bettering the company and setting new benchmarks for the company internally, rather than focusing on external competition, as is often typical in American companies. "Toyota's company culture emphasizes teamwork over individual stars…Toyota executives don't see themselves as bigger than the company or the customer or the product… At Toyota factories, the plant manager doesn't even get a reserved parking space, a perk that is practically universal among manufacturing companies" (Newman 2008). Although only a symbolic gesture, this underlines the focus of the company on the process, rather than upon hierarchies and the fact that everyone is equal in the context of creation. Its focus on continuous improvement also meant that, even when it was beating the competition, it has remained determined to introduce new and innovative concepts, such as its Prius hybrid vehicle. "Toyota's "continuous improvement ethos is legendary throughout industry,…whether it's wasted time, excess material, or a scrap of trash on a factory floor..At a lot of companies, if something's going well and it's profitable, they'll move on to something else…But if Toyota can attach a hood in eight minutes, they'll find a way to whittle that down to four minutes, then two minutes, then who knows" (Newman 2008).
It does not matter if eight minutes already exceeds the industry standard, true to the JIT principles it created, Toyota wants to do it faster, better, and more accurately. Even while the automobile industry today struggles to stay solvent, Toyota has at least distinguished itself by suffering a less precipitous decline in profits than its cohorts. And it also, unlike its American competitors, has a wellspring of cash, once again holding true to the idea of keeping funds, production facilities, and resources in reserve for unexpected external as well as internal changes. Although the future is never certain, Toyota is determined that whatever may occur, it will strive to make its prospects for tomorrow better than they stand today.
Grout, John & Brian T. Downs. "A Brief Tutorial on Mistake-proofing, Poka-Yoke, and ZQC."
June 14, 2009. http://facultyweb.berry.edu/jgrout/tutorial.html