A decade after offering free instruction in lean manufacturing to all American takers, Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc. is curtailing the service.
Parts suppliers and automakers that want to study the vaunted Toyota Production System must pay for the education. Toyota will continue offering free guidance to nonprofit organizations such as the American Printing House for the Blind and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Toyota would not say how much the training will cost or what it spends on service.
Toyota has separated the teaching group from its manufacturing group and set it up as an independent unit, Toyota Supplier Support Center Inc. The unit, which is in Erlanger, Ky., will remain in the northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, Ohio, area, the automaker said.
"We're going to charge market rates for our services," said Dennis Cuneo, Toyota senior vice president of administration. "We have a big backlog right now of companies who want our help. It's one thing when it's free. It's something else when you have to pay for it."