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Lean is driving more than manufacturing at the company that created the Toyota Production System.

Toyota Motor Corporation is a leader in the automobile industry with a reputation for reliability and outstanding customer service. The firm attributes much of its success to the Toyota Way, which is the foundation of its famous Toyota Production System, or Lean manufacturing techniques. Information technology is an invaluable tool in Toyota's ongoing efforts to be Lean. One example of Toyota's further realization of Lean is Toyota Motor Europe's new Oracle-based vehicle-order-management system.

 

Ludo Vandervelden, Toyota Motor Europe's vice president of Finance and Accounting for the Information Systems Group and Vehicle Logistics Group, contends that the basic principal of Lean is to avoid waste in order to gain time and reduce costs. If an organization is Lean, then it has opportunities for continued improvement.

Toyota decided that Oracle E-Business Suite would be at the heart of its new vehicle management system because of Oracle's technology and applications, as well as its flexibility and ability to adapt quickly to change. Learn how the new vehicle management system helps Toyota maintain Lean management and Lean operations while maximizing customer satisfaction.

No wonder Toyota Motor Corporation is the envy of other manufacturers. The quality and reliability of its vehicles are the gold standard of the industry. Customer loyalty is so high that Toyota can make money without offering extreme discounts. Globally, the company's net income for fiscal year 2005 (which ended March 31, 2005) rose to US$10.9 billion—more than the profits of GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler combined. But, arguably, the crown jewel of Toyota is neither its products nor its profits. Rather, it is something less tangible but more essential. Called the Toyota Way, it is the foundation of the Toyota Production System, or Lean manufacturing techniques. In the largest sense, it is a mindset or management philosophy that becomes apparent when you talk to Toyota executives such as Ludo Vandervelden, who practically lives and breathes it.

Covering a Lot of Turf

It's a good thing that Ludo Vandervelden, who is based in Brussels, Belgium, is in the car business. He has lots of territory—and kilometers—to cover. As Toyota Motor Europe's vice president of Finance and Accounting, Information Systems Group and the Vehicle Logistics Group, Vandervelden travels frequently, supporting the activities of 26 national marketing and sales companies (covering 48 countries) and a pan-European network of 2,988 dealers. Most of these dealerships are independently owned.

Altogether, Toyota Motor Europe employs more than 55,000 people either directly or indirectly through its dealerships. Toyota Motor Europe's head office in Brussels houses key activities for both Toyota and Lexus, serving as the nerve center for all European operations, including manufacturing and engineering, marketing and sales, network development and brand management, strategic and product planning, logistics, and customer service.

 

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