In the Japanese electrical and electronics industry, examples abound of factory managers proposing and introducing new products for production in factories that have retained their competitiveness. In other words, adding new products activates shop floor communication. This research uses data from a survey to analyze the “openness” (kazetoshi, which literally means "ventilation" in Japanese, is an indicator of communication activity) of the shop floor organization. This analysis, while not revealing a correlation between openness and quality, cost, delivery, and flexibility (QCDF), does reveal a positive, significant correlation between openness, the “number of new product introductions,” and “new product proposal/development.” In reality, factories in which the latter two factors had a greater presence had good openness. This suggests that factory managers’ actions and policies of proposing and adding new products help to activate shop floor organizational communication.
Nobeoka, Dyer, and Madhok (2002) statistically demonstrated the relationship between suppliers’ performance and suppliers’ customer scope; the latter was measured by (1) the number of automakers to whom components were supplied and (2) the concentration ratio of automakers (Herfindahl index) for seven Japanese automotive assemblers (automakers), using the data for 1995 on Japanese automotive parts industry. They concluded that the greater the number of customers (automakers) and the lower the concentration ratio, the higher the supplier’s performance (profit–sales ratio). We have gathered additional data for 1985 and 2005 and re-examined the relationship, following the analytical model of Nobeoka et al. (2002). The findings here for 1985 and 1995 are similar to those presented by Nobeoka et al. (2002); however, no significant correlation was observed for 2005. Moreover, we have conducted an additional test to compare their performance after dividing the suppliers into two groups: (A) suppliers with three or more automaker customers and (B) suppliers with less than three automaker customers. The results show that (A) the suppliers with more customers have significantly higher performances in 1985 and 1995; however, in 2005, (B) the suppliers with less customers have a higher profit–sales ratio, although it is not significant. It is highly likely that the correlation between supplier performance and the number or the concentration ratio of automaker clients might result from a spurious correlation caused by other antecedent variables.
Simultaneously launching new models globally becomes a problem with an increase in global production. Although Toyota Motor Corporation and Hyundai Motor Company have different production systems, they have almost at the same time created organizations with similar functions to solve the problem of simultaneously launching new models globally. These organizations are Toyota’s Global Production Center (GPC) and Hyundai’s pilot center. Both were new organizations with their own pilot production lines instead of conventional mass production lines. However, Toyota’s GPC, which is a part of the mother factory system, plays a complementary role vis-a-vis the company’s domestic plants, while at Hyundai’s pilot center, which is a part of the model factory system, the pilot center functions independently of the domestic plants. This is how Toyota reduces the burden on its competitive mother factories in Japan, while Hyundai opts to maintain a distance from its domestic factories, which are not sources of its competitiveness.
Digital cameras were initially developed as video memo devices and televisions with cameras and had appearances and designs that differed from film-based cameras. However, improvements in pixel number led to them becoming replacements for film-based cameras. Radical innovations, such as the function of optical zoom and image stabilization that were required to take quality photographs, were then developed. At the same time, digital cameras took on the appearance of film-based cameras, leading to frame that they could replace film-based cameras for consumers. In this manner, though film-based cameras came to be replaced by digital cameras, the appearance of film-based cameras became their dominant “industrial” design.
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