Section 7. The Functions that Supported Globalization
Item 4. Human Resources Development
Establishment of the Global Production Center
As TMC further expanded its production outside Japan during the 2000s, global production continued increasing at an annual rate of 500,000 vehicles starting in 2001. Meanwhile, a shortage of personnel to support overseas production, including human resource training, became an acute issue. Then-President Hiroshi Okuda pointed out TMC's problem by saying, "Our line of communication has been stretched to its limit."
In response, TMC established the Global Production Center (GPC) inside Motomachi Plant in July 2003. The GPC's mission was to address the issues related to TMC's rapid business expansion outside Japan, by training the production site managers and supervisors who would be essential in efficiently starting up new plants and helping the existing production sites outside Japan become independent.
Traditionally, when a new production site outside Japan was being started up, a plant in Japan that produced the same model acted as the "parent plant" and accepted trainees who were to be developed into core personnel at the new production site. However, it became apparent that personnel shortages also existed at parent plants and that there were subtle differences among the training methods used at various parent plants. Therefore, the GPC selected the most excellent Toyota method for each process as the "best practice" and, instead of creating a conventional manual based on text and photographs, developed a visual manual utilizing video clips that captured actual actions and computer graphics to enable trainees to gain insight and efficiently master skills and know-how.
Those who underwent classes and training at the GPC were actually trainers from production sites inside and outside Japan who, when they finished their training, took the training materials and methods with them to the production floors of their home plants, where they helped develop human resources. Adopting this method reduced the training period required for mastering the necessary skills by half, compared to the conventional method. The GPC also served the function of efficiently carrying out pilot production and conducted "global pilot production" with the participation of members from multiple related production sites around the world during model startup or switchover.
TMC also propagated the functions of the GPC to other countries. It established the Asia Pacific Global Production Center in Thailand in 2005, as well as the European Global Production Centre in the United Kingdom and the North American Production Support Center in the United States in 2006.
Meanwhile, in January 2002, TMC established the Toyota Institute as a human resources development facility for supporting globalization. President Fujio Cho was appointed the institute's first president. The Toyota Institute placed a central role in training management and middle management of TMC's global organizations, including affiliates outside Japan. In 2004, the institute compiled the Toyota Business Practices (TBP), which systematized Toyota's strong problem-solving methodologies, and held TBP trainer education seminars beginning in 2005. As of October 2008, more than 400 trainers had been certified throughout the world and efforts have continued to raise the level of the problem-solving abilities of all involved through steady implementation of the TBP.