TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Toyota’s North American manufacturing and engineering chief has a message for suppliers: Share your best technology with us.

“Our suppliers’ willingness to share new technologies with us is not where it should be,” Simon Nagata, president-Toyota Motor Engineering and Mfg., says Wednesday at the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars here.

But he acknowledges Toyota has been part of the problem.

“I think we need to demonstrate a more open-minded attitude to our suppliers’ ideas early in development, and I’m committed to doing that,” Nagata says.

Part of the reason for suppliers’ lack of willingness to share may be the conclusion of the recent Planning Perspectives supplier-OEM relations’ survey, which found while the automaker has “finally rediscovered the ‘Toyota Way’” and had its first improvement in ratings in seven years it still has “a ways to go.”

The Planning Perspectives survey shows Toyota’s continuing issuance of late and excessive design changes is impacting the supply chain’s ability to meet cost, quality and delivery targets, Nagata says.

Moving Toyota’s purchasing operations to Michigan from Erlanger, KY, should help alleviate these issues, as purchasing and design functions will be together in the state.

Toyota already is taking steps to work together with suppliers to “ensure good part design, good process planning and good part development,” he says.

The No.1 Japanese automaker also has worked to ensure its designers’ intentions line up with manufacturing ability.

“We want you to be patient with us as we improve, so we can earn the trust it takes to receive your best ideas and work on them with you,” he says.

Nagata speaks of his relatively new status as a Michigan resident, having relocated to the state last year ahead of the company’s recently announced reorganization that will see most Toyota U.S. operations consolidated at a new headquarters in Plano, TX.

Toyota announced it was shifting 250 purchasing jobs to its Ann Arbor, MI-area technical center from Erlanger at the time of the Plano announcement in late April.

In its latest charitable move, Toyota pledges $1 million to the Detroit Institute of Arts’ “Grand Bargain,” which is a fund supporting the museum’s survival, as certain creditors in the city’s bankruptcy proceedings want to see DIA art sold to pay off debts.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com