BURNASTON, UK - Toyota has asked 24 of its top suppliers to form a club that will help teach 176 other suppliers how to be better.
The Toyota in Europe Association of Manufacturers, or TEAM, is similar to other organizations Toyota has developed around the world.
Rob Johnson, the purchasing division general manager, said the program has its roots in the first supplier organization that Toyota established in Japan in 1943. The goal of TEAM is for suppliers to define their own areas of responsibility and act upon them.
'The only thing we ask is that they concentrate on either quality or cost improvement,' said Johnson. 'By encouraging them to share their findings with other suppliers we hope that our entire supplier base will become stronger.
'We in turn become stronger, and by supporting each other in this way our products become stronger.'
The association was started in December, a month after production of the new Avensis began at Burnaston. With the Avensis, purchasing costs at Burnaston will double, from £500 million ($820 million) annually to £1 billion.
'The Avensis' suppliers have all been involved with the car from the start but that's not to say that they will remain so,' Johnson said. 'We expect our suppliers to remain competitive in quality, innovation and, of course, cost.'
TEAM was started with 24 Tier One suppliers. As production rises Toyota plans to invite the remaining 176 to join.
Toyota has kept all 200 European suppliers to the Carina as suppliers to the Avensis.
By late 1998 the Burnaston plant will be producing at the rate of 160,000 vehicles a year. It built 115,000 of the Carina last year.