In an office building in Michigan, there is a giant board on the wall that lists and tracks the world’s problems in detail.
The multicolored papers hanging there – tracking earthquakes and tsunamis, fires and floods, coronavirus hotspots and even wars – are not just world problems.
These are Bob Young’s problems, today and every day.
Young, vice president of the Procurement Supply Development Group for Toyota Motor North America, and his team in Saline are committed to supporting the region’s assembly and component plants that operate as much as possible. And for more than two years now, because of COVID-19, a series of natural disasters, civil strife, labor shortages and now the war between Russia and Ukraine, Young’s work has been challenging.
“Normally our world is a level of controlled chaos, but the last few years it has been a little more chaotic than what we’re used to,” Young said last month of seemingly exhausted laughter.
His board on March 21 tracked at least 70 threats to the production and delivery of Toyota and Lexus cars to U.S. dealers.
Illustrating how these developments affect production, Toyota Motor Corp. last month announced that April’s global production would be cut by 150,000 cars to 750,000, and production would drop 10 percent in May and 5 percent in June from estimates made earlier this year. year The next day, after Japan was hit by a magnitude 7.4 earthquake, the company said it would stop production for three days, starting with 18 lines at 11 plants, and lose 20,000 production units.
Young’s “list of problems” was not surprising – semiconductorslabor availability, disruptions in global and regional logistics, natural and man-made disasters – but seem to continue to expand amid the common belief that the threat of serious disruptions as a result of a pandemic is disappearing.
So what gives?
“I think in general because of all the problems we’ve faced – whether it’s cyber attacks or natural disasters – the supply chain is still relatively fragile. And I would say that many suppliers are not in full swing when it comes to inventory. work in progress or finished products, ”Young said. “So the first little hiccup, it’s very close to causing us problems.”
Toyota, which manages one of the most complex global supply and logistics chains in the industry, has worked for the most part last year with the lowest inventory in the U.S., and only Japanese brand Subaru operates with fewer days at dealerships. Longtime CEO Bob Carter, head of sales at Toyota Motor North America, recently joked that until last year, he “had no idea our system could even measure the number of days in tenths of a day”.