Giant Japanese automaker Toyota Motors has announced that it stopped car production operations. The outage was forced by a system failure at one of its suppliers of vital parts, Kojima Industries, which reportedly suffered a cyberattack.
Kojima Industries is a Japanese manufacturer of plastic components that are crucial for car production, so this is a case of severe supply chain interruption.
Toyota said today that the incident caused it to decide to suspend the operation of 28 production lines in 14 plants in Japan, starting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
The expected impact is a 5% drop in Toyota’s monthly production in Japan, which translates to roughly 13,000 units.
Toyota’s subsidiaries Daihatsu Motors and Hino Motors will also halt production but the exact impact on them hasn’t been clarified.
Although Kojima has not published any official information about the attack, the company’s website is currently offline and many Japanese news outlets are claiming that the disruption is a direct result of a cyberattack.
An official with knowledge about the incident at Kojima Industries told local media that the company “appears to have been hit by the cyberattack” and that the top priority is to resume Toyota’s production.
Japanese reporters have asked Prime Minister Fumio Kishida if this could be linked to Japan’s sanctions on Moscow. Kishida said at the time that there was no confirmation of a Russian connection.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused various supply chain problems for all car makers, especially those who rely on large production volumes for profit, most notably due to shortages in semiconductors.
This situation introduced unprecedented challenges to Toyota in particularly, due to its long-established “just in time” (JIT) lean manufacturing approach which historically provided ultimate efficiency but didn’t offer any margin for versatility.
Whatever caused the Kojima supply disruption, Toyota’s once advantageous JIT system proves to be a weakness in today’s production landscape, which is connected to a volatile cyberspace.
H/T Douglas Mun