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What If Toyota Ran The Prisons

Most of the cars in the LA Police Department's fleet are Fords (specifically, the Crown Victoria Police Interceptors, or CVPIs), which explains why you see so many Fords on TV cop shows. However, when it comes to actually running the LAPD, the automaker of choice is clearly Toyota.

Today's Wall Street Journal (Mar. 5, 2007) features an article about Toyota University, the automaker's in-house training center that occasionally helps train outside organizations that seemingly have nothing at all to do with manufacturing cars. And one such organization is the LAPD. By studying Toyota's lean production techniques, the LAPD figured out ways to better process inmates through booking, as well as eliminating a lot of wasted time in food preparation. It may not sound like that big a deal at first, but that's the nature of continuous improvement a lot of little ideas add up to a big overall gain; in the case of the LAPD, savings as much as $1 million per year.

In fact, Toyota U has also trained representatives from the U.S. Department of Defense on better material handling techniques.

The article also notes in passing that Toyota U is currently closed to the outside world, since recent problems with recalls has made it necessary to populate the classrooms with Toyota employees needing a refresher in lean management.

Click here to hear a WSJ interview with the LAPD captain about the leaning of the police department.

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