GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- To make it at Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc. these days, managers must pass the smell test.
Literally. As in, "See if you can smell what this is," Toyota manager Bill Turner says as he hands over a vial of unidentified liquid.
Chemical smell identification is just one test Toyota is giving to aspiring managers and line supervisors at the Production Support Center here. The center, which opened this year, trains new managers for Toyota's expanding network of plants. The automaker will have 14 U.S., Canadian and Mexican factories running by 2008.
Besides learning to tell the difference between differential oil, cleaning solution and brake fluid, new supervisors will learn to feel imperfections in unpainted body panels. They also will learn to replace the tip on a welding gun, rapidly screw a handful of bolts, program a piece of automated equipment and correctly use Toyota's alien factory terminology, including heijunka (level production flow) and genchi genbutsu (go investigate problems for yourself).