Just-in-time Imperialism

Oh yes, and the efficiency of deprivation of prisoners.

Spector, Mike and Gina Chon. 2007. “Managing Toyota University Opens Admissions to Outsiders: Car Giant Preaches Its Mantra Of Continuous Improvement.” Wall Street Journal (5 March): p. B 1.

“When Capt. Patrick Findley took over the Los Angeles Police Department’s jails about two years ago, incoming prisoners stood in line for hours waiting to be booked, and officers spent valuable time heating up frozen dinners to feed them each evening. So Capt. Findley turned to an unlikely place for a tune-up: Toyota Motor Corp.”

“The company isn’t only one of the most efficient and profitable auto makers on the planet, it also has quietly become a kind of managerial guru. At times, it has opened the doors of its in-house training center, known as the University of Toyota, and welcomed students ranging from home builders to soldiers to city cops. Los Angeles police do a car-building drill at the University of Toyota.”

“For Capt. Findley, a two-day class revealed the solution to his headaches: sandwiches. By cutting hot evening meals at the lockup, the LAPD could free more officers during one of the jail’s busiest times. “We had always done it that way,” Capt. Findley says of serving dinner hot. “It never occurred to me to do something different”.”

“Based in Gardena, Calif., the Toyota program was started in 1998 to train the company’s employees in its distinctive business philosophy and “lean-thinking” approach to producing cars. For instance, Toyota’s just-in-time production system orchestrates the building and delivery of parts so they arrive at the factory a few hours before needed instead of sitting in storage for days. That way, Toyota spends less on stocking unused parts and has fewer parts to fix or scrap if a quality problem arises.”

“In 2005, the Defense Department sent representatives from each military branch to Toyota to improve combat readiness. Participants learned how Toyota organizes its distribution centers and warehouses in ways that speed the shipment of parts. The military applied some of these ideas to the airports that handle materials headed for Iraq. One small change: The military now stacks packing material closer to loading docks, which saves personnel a few steps and a couple of minutes each time they pack up supplies for shipment. Over the course of a day, those small changes save hours.”

“In an assessment of the Toyota training, one Air Force captain wrote that her “life would never be the same”.”

“Prisoners still get hot lunches, but at dinnertime they get two prepackaged turkey sandwiches, an apple and milk. “This is not Spago,” Capt. Findley says, referring to Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant.”


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