TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Toyota-affiliated supplier Denso will embark on a new global drive to operate smaller factory lines that handle smaller jobs for customers.
The effort will be the key direction in Denso’s plan to invest $1 billion in North American products, research and factories over the next four years.
Denso wants to cut factory square-footage by half, says David Grimmer, president of Denso Manufacturing Canada Inc.
That will require smaller machinery that can multitask, more precise production with less material waste, and more advanced planning, he says.
“We want to reinvent the way we manufacture,” Grimmer told an audience here today. “I’m taking about a radical change.”
If Denso plants currently produce parts in batches of 100, they will have the ability to handle batches of one part in the coming years, he said.
Factory machinery will be expected to produce multiple parts, not just one or two parts. And work stations that typically consume 100 feet of floor space will be pared down to 50 feet in the near future, he said.
The first changes have begun to show up at Denso’s manufacturing plant in Battle Creek, Mich., but the plan is for Denso factories all over the world to undergo redesigns over the next 10 years.
He said the reshaping will take place as Denso creates new products or moves into new generations of existing products.
“Less space equals a smaller footprint, less energy consumption, less sub-material and less processing time,” Grimmer said. “That will enable us not to simply survive in the future, but to thrive.”
Denso, which is 23 percent owned by Toyota, ranks No. 2 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with estimated worldwide parts sales to automakers of $34.2 billion during its 2012 fiscal year.