On February 1, 1997, a major fire swept through one of Aisin Seiki's plants supplying brake fluid proportioning valves (or P-valves) to all Toyota vehicles manufactured by Toyota-group plants in Japan (Reitman, 1997; Nishiguchi and Beaudet, 1998). The sole reliance of Toyota on Aisin Seiki's supply and the low inventory levels of the P-valves inventory due to a just-in-time (JIT) operating environment threatened to shut down Toyota's 20 auto plants in Japan for weeks and damage local economies.
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