Why is it taking so long for Detroit to figure out how to make a car as good as the Japanese? Well, there’s some very interesting answers to that question, and all of them can be found right here-- at a car plant in Fremont, California, called NUMMI. NUMMI stands for New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated.
Describing previous GM plants:
All those mistakes added up at a GM plant, and the results were littered around the lots outside-- hundreds of misassembled cars. Cars that came off the line missing parts. Cars that needed to be fixed before they could be shipped out to the dealers. In a Toyota plant, there was nothing like this. Why did a GM plant produce so many screwed up cars? One cardinal rule that everybody in the company knew.
The line could never stop. Never stop the line.
Because the theory was, they’ll stop it all the time. They don’t want to work, you know, they want to sit and play cards or whatever. You know, that was a free break for them, if the line stops, so you wouldn’t give them the ability to stop the line.
What got me was the fact that they had a cross bolt, and they stopped the line to repair it. Ream the hole, put the bolt back in, instead of sending it on and putting all the other junk on top of it, so you have to take it off and repair it. And whoever puts it back isn’t skilled in putting trim back, so they’re going to mess that up.
That impressed me. Said, gee, that makes sense, fix it now so you don’t have to go through all this stuff.