Even major car manufacturers can never have too much storage space. In late August, Toyota had to shut down 28 assembly lines at 14 auto plants in Japan due to computer issues. Today, Toyota provided more details on the shutdown, including that "an error occurred due to insufficient disk space."
According to a press release from the car maker, the shutdown of these plants was a result of system maintenance that occurred a few days prior. During this maintenance, "data that had accumulated in the database was deleted and organized, and an error occurred due to insufficient disk space, causing the system to stop." The company further wrote that the servers were running on the same system as its backup, causing the same issue there, so the company couldn't make a switch.
The fix occurred when Toyota's engineers moved to a server with more storage space, with the plants restarting the next day. The company claims that "[c]ountermeasures have also been put in place by replicating and verifying the situation."
At the time, there was speculation that Toyota had fallen prey to a cyberattack. But the company's release is meant to "reaffirm" that security wasn't the issue.
"Going forward, we will review our maintenance procedures and strengthen our efforts to prevent a recurrence, so that we can deliver as many vehicles to our customers as soon as possible," the unsigned note reads.
News reports of the initial shutdown suggest that the issue was with a system that deals with orders for incoming vehicle components. The Guardian suggests this could have caused an issue with Toyota's "just-in-time" system of managing parts, keeping only what is needed to build cars at their exact points of assembly. This is meant to reduce costs (Apple is known for its mastery of the practice), but — clearly — everything falls apart when you can't order the parts you need.
Toyota's statement also included an apology to "customers, suppliers, and related parties" for "any inconvenience caused by the suspension of our domestic plants as a result of the malfunction in our production order system at the end of last month."
Reuters estimates that these Japan-based plants account for roughly one third of Toyota's global car production. In Feb. 2022, Toyota shutdown the same 14 plants due to a cyberattack.
Moral of the story: Always keep some extra storage space on hand for anything mission-critical, especially if you're a massive company that requires software that can be timed to exact specifications in order to build complicated machines.