TRAVERSE CITY, MICH.-- Toyotas flexible new production systems could have given the automaker a challenge to find and train enough personnel to work with all of its new robotics and automation.
But according to Don Jackson, vice president of manufacturing at Toyotas big Camry/Avalon plant in Georgetown, Ky., the new robots available today are simpler to use than previous generations. And because they are easier to service and maintain, they will require half the maintenance personnel of Toyotas previous body shop technology.
Theyre really getting simple to use, Jackson said after making a Management Briefings presentation here Tuesday.
As a result, he said, Toyota has been able to make a major technology conversion without creating a major human resources burden.
In addition to being far cheaper today than they were a decade ago, new robots are easier to program with new production instructions, they communicate easily from unit to unit, and they are even easier to trouble-check, Jackson said.
When something goes wrong, we have controllers that are simplified with just eight possible choices for response, Jackson said after his presentation.
Over the past two years, Toyota has been overhauling its plants worldwide to adopt a new manufacturing process it calls the Global Body Line. It unveiled the new system last year at Georgetown, the seventh plant worldwide to adopt it.
The GBL process uses re-programmable welding robots instead of the traditional bank of independent welding jigs.
The new system will allow a Toyota plant to assemble eight different body models in any sequence.
Despite its reliance on high-tech tools, the new system can be set up and launched in about one year, Jackson saidabout half the time it normally takes to build a traditional body assembly shop.