A Label Fable

Toyota Logistics Services’ response to a customer concern is poised to save thousands of dollars and speed deliveries in Mexico

December 11, 2018
Customer First -- Marlon Brown, right, and Will Noble review an A3 that encapsulates TMEX's need for vehicle labels in Spanish and how TLS, working in partnership with other One Toyota entities, could be of assistance.


It started with a simple question.

It will end with gains in efficiency and cost.

And, quite possibly, none of it would have happened if not for the increased collaboration made possible by One Toyota.
 
The “it” in this instance has to do with vehicles assembled in North America and shipped to Mexico. The collaborators include Toyota Mexico (TMEX), Toyota Logistics Services (TLS), Project Planning Management (PPM), and Legal and Compliance.
 
“We were there to talk about a new vessel to transport vehicles to Puerto Rico,” says Will Noble, senior analyst in TLS Export Marine Quality Operations of the meeting with representatives of TMEX in April. “At the end of it, we asked, ‘Is there anything else we can do to help?’ And they said, ‘Well, yeah, you can.’”


Collaborative Effort -- "This is a great example of what One Toyota is really all about," says TLS Senior Manager Marlon Brown.

Lost in Translation
 
That’s when Noble, along with Senior Manager Marlon Brown and Export Analyst Roselaure Jones, learned that vehicles from North America arrived with labels in English. By law, all vehicles sold in Mexico require labels in Spanish. So TMEX had to hire a vendor to translate, at a cost of more than $1 million annually and several weeks of delay at the port.
 
Noble had previously worked at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, where vehicles assembled for export to the Middle East sported labels in both English and Arabic. So, he knew it was possible to address TMEX’s concern. It was just a matter of challenging the status quo.
 
Still, it took several more meetings back at TMNA and strong support by executives on a cross-functional level for the project to gain traction.  Currently, Brown, Noble and Jones are partnering with PPM which is studying the feasibility of implementation. 
 
While the details still need to be sorted out, the collaborators in this process are confident that a positive solution will be found.  
 
“We’re talking about 100,000 units per year across multiple models, including Camry, Highlander, Sequoia, Sienna, Tundra, Tacoma and Corolla,” says Noble. “Each vehicle has a minimum of 30 or more labels that need to be reproduced, and there are 22 different models. You can do the math. TMEX showed us these huge binders full of the recreated labels. That’s when we realized just how big a burden this was for them.”
 
“In the spirit of continuous improvement and JKK principles we are seeking to challenge the status quo to improve the existing process and provide the highest quality to our customer.”
 
Multiplier Effect -- "Each vehicle has a minimum of 30 or more labels that need to be reproduced, and there are 22 different models," says Will Noble, senior analyst in TLS Export Marine Quality Operations. "You can do the math."

Global Impact
 
Eventually, the full impact of this effort could grow. English is the language of choice for labels on vehicles made in Thailand which also find their way to Mexico. North America’s kaizen could be replicated there.
 
“This wasn’t in our scope of responsibility,” says Brown. “But when they told us they were struggling with this and could use a hand, we knew we had to find a way to help. This is a great example of what One Toyota is really all about.”
 
By Dan Miller

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