TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp., already regarded as the industry leader in manufacturing efficiency, is raising its sights.
Toyota is completely refurbishing its high-volume Takaoka assembly plant. Toyota says it is aiming to set new standards at Takaoka for quality, productivity, flexibility and environmental performance.
"I am confident that the innovations being adopted by the Takaoka plant will make it a model for Toyota plants of the future," says Toyota CEO Katsuaki Watanabe.
In typical Toyota fashion, the carmaker will not install bleeding-edge technology. Instead, it will bring together several proven innovations that it has tested at other factories. These include:
- A welding system that slashes the cost of jigs and other tooling.
- A "set parts system" that delivers kits of parts for each vehicle. Line workers then do not have to correctly select the proper part from numerous bins alongside the line.
- New stamping presses that use servo-motors rather than hydraulic pressure, combined with high-speed delivery robots.
- A new paint process that eliminates the need to let the base coat dry, plus a faster electrostatic rust-coating system.
Devoted to such high-volume models as the Toyota Corolla and Yaris, Takaoka previously built 660,000 cars a year on three lines. After the revamp, it will have the capacity to build 500,000 on two lines. Each new line will be shorter than the current ones.
Toyota expects to halve production lot sizes for stamped parts. It also will cut overall procurement logistics costs by 20 percent.
Toyota expects to finish one new line in 2007. It will revamp all of Takaoka by the end of 2009. There is no current timetable for spreading Takaoka's innovations to other Toyota plants.
Takaoka is the "mother plant" for Toyota's factories in Georgetown, Ky.; Fremont, Calif.; Cambridge, Ontario; Valenciennes, France, and others. This is the first complete revamp since the plant opened to build Corollas in 1966.
You may e-mail James B. Treece at [email protected]