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Toyota shifts gears in 'kaizen' drive to blunt global chip shortage

Automaker weighs break from 'just-in-time' supply chains as industry changes

A Toyota factory in Kentucky: The automaker is considering creating a centralized inventory management system in light of the global chip shortage. (Photo courtesy of Toyota)

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor scored a major profit jump for the January-March quarter even as the global semiconductor shortage squeezes its rivals by applying its flagship philosophy of kaizen -- the pursuit of continuous efficiency improvement -- to its supply chains.

But with chips only expected to increase in importance in an industry shifting toward electric and self-driving cars, the automaker is now considering taking a step further by departing from its "just-in-time" approach to plan orders years in advance to ensure access to the crucial component.

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