Like you, I have heard about the myriad of problems Toyota has been having lately. I heard about the sticking accelerator, the brake problem on the Prius, and a vehicle recall that will top 8 million. USA Today listed this as “Toyota’s quality fiasco” http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-02-05-toyota-recall-friday_N.htm. Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda has stated “Let me assure everyone that we will redouble our commitment to quality as the lifeline of our company” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/toyota_recall. As I read this, I wondered, is it really a quality problem?
No doubt Toyota has a problem, but was the accelerator problem caused by poor quality? You might recall that one solution to the accelerator problem was related to the floor mat. The floor mat would be modified so that the potential for it to cause the accelerator to stick would be minimized. So what is the root cause of this problem? Were the fibers used in the floor mat faulty? Were the floor mats sized incorrectly? Did the materials supplier produce defective materials? There are many possibilities.
Toyota is known for their precise specifications. So let’s assume that the floor mats, brake pedals, brake lines, etc. were manufactured to a tight tolerance and functioned as they were designed. If this is the case, isn’t the problem related to the design rather than the quality of the parts produced? If root cause analysis identifies that the problem is with the design, then the media should call it “Toyota’s design fiasco.”
Of course at the end of the day, what really matters is that all automotive manufacturers learn from Toyota’s problems and take steps to prevent an issue such as this from occurring again.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on “Toyota’s quality fiasco.”
I regularly follow Quality Digest articles and videos and have come to really enjoy the material written by Mike Micklewright. His material is not just educational, it is usually presented in an entertaining fashion. Hey, if you can make quality information a little entertaining, then you have some talent! You can see many of his articles directly from the Quality Digest site once you enter Mike’s name in the search engine at http://www.qualitydigest.com/.
For example, in this video, http://www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-video/viewpoint-mike-micklewright.html, Mike shares his opinions on the new ISO 9001:2008 standard. If your company is ISO registered or you are interested in more information about the standard, there are many sources of information on the web. Google gave me more than I could have anticipated. Yet in this short video, Mike Micklewright examines the eight quality management principles and what the editors did or more to his point, what they did not do, with the standard.
Mike owns his own company, Quality Quest, and if you are interested in more of his material, Google his name or visit http://www.mikemick.com/. What helpful quality resources do you follow online?
I recently received an e-mail from SPC Press about a new book Donald Wheeler wrote, Twenty Things You Need to Know. Don has written many books on SPC, measurement systems analysis, Six Sigma, and other quality topics.
Although I have not yet read Twenty Things You Need to Know, I can tell you that his other books (such as Understanding Statistical Process Control and Understanding Variation) are worth reading. Okay, they don’t exactly read like a good novel that you can’t put down, but they serve as outstanding quality statistics reference sources.
If you are interested in his new book, you might want to look at an excerpt which is available through this link: http://www.spcpress.com/pdf/three_questions.pdf
In this excerpt, Wheeler states
“…these three questions define the essence of how to get things done.”