Market flexible customizing system (MFCS) of Japanese vehicle manufacturers: An analysis of Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi
Many studies on Japanese manufacturing practices have rarely compared how different Japanese vehicle manufacturers implement market flexible customizing system (MFCS). The aim of this study is to compare collaborative practices of Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi in terms of how they integrate changing market demand information into their production plans. From 2001 to 2008 a research team has engaged in-depth interviews of eleven executives from Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi and five executives from their suppliers. Such longitudinal approach was to examine the evolving sets of management philosophies and manufacturing practices. The results of this study suggest a few interesting findings. First, as an improvement of flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) in 1980s, Japanese vehicle manufacturers have been adopting MFCS which integrates long-term market-driven production planning with short-term customer-specified order demands. Second, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi combine make-to-plan (MTP) with make-to-order (MTO) and implement incentive practices for their suppliers and manage inventory risks. Third, Toyota implements a few days shorter market responsive production practices than Nissan and Mitsubishi. This difference in "a few days" characterizes Toyota's organizational capabilities in the form of highly flexible customizing system. This study suggests that three Japanese vehicle manufacturers (Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi) continue to implement MFCS as a way of securing their competitive advantages around the world.
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