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Has The Wuhan Virus Caused 2021 To Become The Year That JIT Auto Manufacturing Died?

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Taiichi Ohno: Hero of the JIT Pro duction System

DETROIT April 1, 2021; Ben Klayman reporting for Reuters reported that after a year of getting hammered by the pandemic, a semiconductor shortage and storms that snarled Dana Inc’s global supply chain, the auto parts maker is reaching for a new playbook.

Many automakers and suppliers like the Ohio maker of axles, driveshafts and other auto parts, are deciding that securing their supply lines is the most pressing order of business.

Dana’s Craig Price, senior vice president of purchasing and supplier development, is pushing companies in his supply network to change the way they do business, stepping away at times from the just-in-time, lean production practices that have guided automotive manufacturers for nearly 40 years.

Dana is sourcing such key commodities as resin, castings, forgings and some electrical components from multiple suppliers, asking suppliers to hold in warehouses a backlog of critical inventory, and building out its software network to better track suppliers, a process Dana hopes to complete this year, Price said.

That cuts against the just-in-time inventory and production approach manufacturers have adopted from Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp since the 1980s. The new catchword in manufacturing is “resiliency,” underscored by Toyota’s February revelation it had built a four-month chip stockpile.

Dana has also moved to help its smaller suppliers recruit workers and secure shipping space on containers to avoid any impact on its operations, Price said.

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