Bruce Coventry hates muda.
At the Dundee Engine plant south of Ann Arbor, Mich., he finds muda everywhere he looks.
Coventry, 53, is president of the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance. This joint venture of Chrysler, Mitsubishi and Hyundai will manufacture four-cylinder engines, playing a key role in Chrysler's campaign to produce small cars profitably.
That's why muda is on Coventry's hit list. Muda is the Japanese word for "waste." Toyota is the world's most profitable automaker because its factories relentlessly eliminate waste. Now Coventry is trying to beat Toyota at its own game.
These days, all automakers have adopted at least some aspects of Toyota's production system. But the most efficient factories require undeveloped sites, and the U.S. automakers have produced precious few of those lately.
The first things a visitor notices are the jacket-clad employees in Dundee's administrative center. It's chilly - Coventry has set the plant's thermostat at 65 degrees. "It's a lot cheaper to buy jackets for the employees," he explains. "We cut our heating bill by $600,000 a month."