Manufacturing.net Rewind: Toyota Replaces Robots With Humans; GM Puts Engineers On Leave
Check out some of this week's top headlines from across Manufacturing.net, from the fallout from GM's massive recall to Toyotas' latest innovative move.
In the last few decades, Toyota has been a leader in implementing new technology on the plant floor — everything from robotics to automated processes that can churn out parts safely and far faster than with human interaction — and has succeeded because of that. But now the company seems to be turning back toward craftspeople who spend their days forging crankshafts by hand rather than programming machines to do the same work.
Bloomberg reports  that Mitsuru Kawai, who has worked at Toyota for more than 50 years, is hearkening back to the day when “gods” made parts with a speed and quality that astounded others. He is quoted: “We need to become more solid and get back to basics, to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them. When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything.” Continue reading... 
DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors has put two engineers on paid leave as an outside attorney investigates why the company took more than a decade to recall millions of small cars for an ignition switch problem.
The company says in a statement Thursday that the action was taken after a briefing from former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. He's been hired to figure out why GM was so slow to recall the cars. Continue reading... 
TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 6.39 million vehicles globally for a variety of problems spanning nearly 30 models in Japan, the U.S., Europe and other places.
No injuries or crashes have been reported related to the recalls announced Wednesday. But two reports of fires are linked to one of the problems, a defective engine starter that can keep the motor running.
Some vehicles were recalled for more than one problem. The recall cases total 6.76 million vehicles for 27 Toyota models, the Pontiac Vibe and the Subaru Trezia, produced from April 2004 through August 2013. Continue reading... 
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's self-proclaimed "lemon law king" filed a lawsuit Monday against direct-order car maker Tesla Motors, accusing the company of refusing to give a Franklin doctor a refund on a defective electric sedan that cost nearly $100,000.
Tesla is currently fighting new regulations in New Jersey that effectively prohibits car companies from using a direct-sales model. Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed an investigation into Tesla car battery fires after the company said it would install more heat shields beneath the cars. Continue reading... 
DETROIT (AP) -- A government safety agency is fining General Motors $7,000 a day, saying the company failed to fully respond to its requests for information about a faulty ignition switch by an April 3 deadline.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a letter to GM on Tuesday that the company already owes $28,000 in fines, and they will accrue at $7,000 per day until it provides all the requested information.
In February, the agency began investigating whether GM was slow to provide information and respond to problems with the switch that has been linked to at least 13 deaths. GM has admitted knowing that the switch was defective at least a decade ago, but failed to start recalling 2.6 million compact cars worldwide until this year. Continue reading... 
IRWINDALE, Calif. (AP) -- A Southern California city has declared the factory that produces the popular Sriracha hot sauce a public nuisance.
The Irwindale City Council's action Wednesday night gives the factory 90 days to make changes to stop the spicy odors that prompted complaints from some residents last fall. Declaring a public nuisance will allow city officials to enter the factory and make changes if the odors persist after the deadline.
The decision came despite testimony by air-quality experts that progress was being made toward a resolution. The South Coast Air Quality Management District said its inspectors have taken air samples inside the plant, and believed the information gathered should allow the factory and the city to resolve their differences. Continue reading... 
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