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Toyota promotes altruism in America

Toyota is making plans to share its efficiencies expertise for free in 2011 to give a helping hand to 20 schools, hospitals and nonprofit organizations. The Japanese company will assist groups through its proprietary Toyota Production System, which it typically uses to improve just-in-time processes in the automotive industry.

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Pilot projects showed Toyota many ways in which concepts pioneered on its assembly lines can benefit groups outside of the auto industry. The company, in announcing the program at an event in Chicago, cited these examples of what can be accomplished through this new initiative of altruism:

– Long wait times at the Community Kitchen & Food Pantry in Harlem were sharply cut, from more than an hour to just 18 minutes, by improving processes in meal services.

– At Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, applying Toyota’s “just-in-time” supply process to the delivery of pharmaceuticals dramatically reduced waste. The hospital expects to save almost $400,000 annually because of this improvement.

The first beneficiary of Toyota's generosity is the St. Bernard Project, a New Orleans recovery organization that employs returning war veterans and others to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

“At Toyota, we judge our success not just on the cars we make, but also on how many people we help and communities we support,” said Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America Inc. “In today’s challenging economy, non-profits across the U.S. are under increasing pressure to provide more services for more people – with fewer resources.

“By sharing the techniques of the Toyota Production System, we hope to help these vital organizations increase productivity and efficiency, while decreasing costs and retaining jobs. We are pleased to extend this support – which has been a long-standing resource for successful for-profit companies across North America – to organizations that help people most in need.”

The St. Bernard Project has rebuilt more than 380 homes in greater New Orleans. The organization expects that with Toyota sharing its expertise it will be able to accelerate rebuilding efforts by 20% and employ three times as many war veterans as it does now.

“In disaster recovery, time matters,” said Zack Rosenburg, project chief executive. “We are confident that Toyota’s expertise will help us not only expedite recovery efforts in New Orleans, but also allow us to replicate our vertically integrated rebuilding model in Joplin, Mo.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and other areas of the country devastated by recent natural disasters.”

Toyota’s initiative will be led by the Toyota Production System Support Center, established in 1992 to give back to North America by sharing the techniques of the Toyota Production System with Toyota-related suppliers and other companies nationwide. The center's focus has been to increase productivity, safety and quality while decreasing costs and keeping workers happy.

Daryl Foriest, director of meal services at the Kitchen & Food Pantry of West Harlem, said the improvements Toyota helped his organization make have been noteworthy.

“The financial assistance we receive from our generous donors allows us to continue to serve our customers, but Toyota’s process training allows us to serve them better. Working with Toyota, we were able to reduce the wait time for a meal, customize meals for customers to eliminate unwanted food options, and with an accelerated service time, we no longer need to devote resources managing long lines. This is a system we can use at soup kitchens across New York City.”

Diane Frndak, corporate vice president of safety and quality at Allegheny General Hospital, said Toyota's assistance made a substantial impact in Pittsburgh.

“Not only did the new system Toyota helped us develop eliminate waste and improve quality, it also streamlined the workload for the pharmacy and nursing staff. With the new system in place, our nurses are now able to spend more time with patients.”

Toyota’s new program dovetails on past promises to support local communities with projects that help teachers and students (pictured) with money to fund better education. Toyota has donated more than $500 million to schools and U.S. nonprofits in the past two decades.

You can reach's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected].

Image source: Toyota

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