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All-New Toyota Tundra Assembly Plant Advances Benchmark Toyota Production System


On-Site Supplier Production Network Raises Quality, Efficiency, Speed and Environmental Focus To A New Level

November 16, 2006 – San Antonio - The first 2007 Toyota Tundra full-size pickup truck rolls off the assembly line at Toyota's all-new Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) production facility Friday, at a ceremony attended by Texas Governor Rick Perry and Toyota Motor Corporation President Katsuaki Watanabe.

The ceremony marks the arrival of a vehicle that will give Toyota, for the first time, a formidable entry in a segment once considered the exclusive domain of Detroit automakers GM, Ford and Dodge. Perhaps more significantly, the event marks the opening of a production facility that will immediately establish itself as Toyota's most innovative; a plant that will elevate the Toyota Production System (TPS), widely considered the industry benchmark in quality, efficiency and technological advancements, to a new level.

"Our facility will introduce numerous recently patented production and assembly advancements that, for now, must remain proprietary," said Don Jackson, vice president of TMMTX production and quality. "But even more important to establishing a new benchmark for the Toyota Production System, will be how a vast network of 21 separate parts and components suppliers have been incorporated and integrated on site. TMMTX will be the first automotive assembly plant to integrate numerous supplier parts-production facilities on the same grounds and, in some cases, under the same roof, as the main assembly plant."

One such example is Avanzar, a new joint-venture between Detroit-based Johnson Controls and a San Antonio-based minority-owned company that will build seats for the new Tundra. The company has a facility on the TMMTX grounds that will build steel seat frames. The finished frames are then shuttled less than a mile to a receiving dock of the Avanzar production facility located under the same roof as the main assembly plant.

The frames provide the skeleton for front and rear seating systems that are assembled to order, as needed, on the TMMTX assembly line. For example, an order is received from the factory for a bucket seat set of specific color and fabric design, for a specific truck. Each truck has a katashiki, a specific recipe, detailing every variable from trim level to color to seat configuration.

The seats are built, then mounted onto an elevated track system that connects the Avanzar production facility with the main assembly plant. Less than an hour after receiving the order, the seats arrive at the assembly point, less than five minutes prior to the arrival of the truck in which it will be installed.

"Because Avanzar is on site, it eliminates the need to transport the seats from a remote factory," said Jackson. "There is no need for component packaging and no freight costs. This eliminates land fill waste and reduces the environmental impact of fuel consumption associated with freight movement. More importantly, with the production facility virtually in house, we have a close connection with the supplier, should component quality issues be detected. The ability to significantly shorten the duration of any quality issue is a huge advancement and certainly makes my job easier."

Like Avanzar, the Reyes Corporation is a San Antonio-based minority-owned joint venture with Lear and Amtex. The on-site Reyes plant produces interior plastic trim pieces, as well as carpet sets for the new Tundra. What makes the Reyes relationship with TMMTX so special is its role in the innovative process known as parts "kitting." TMMTX is the first Toyota truck assembly plant to adopt the kitting process, which is currently used at its most advanced passenger-car factories. Kits, or sets of parts, can be delivered to a specific installation point, or mounted inside the truck as it travels down the assembly line delivering parts to more than one installation point.

Reyes Plant Manager, Mark Goss, likens the system to the prep-cook area inside an upscale restaurant, which cooks specific components, such as steamed vegetables for a larger platter.

"The turnaround time from when we receive the order, to when the part is installed, will be 57 minutes once the factory is fully up to speed," said Goss. "During pre-production prototype build, we were told that some of our plastic parts were still warm…sort of like fresh cookies out of the oven."

The Reyes plastic parts are manufactured per specific katashiki order, packed into a hanging plastic sleeve---similar to a closet organizer--- and delivered to the main factory with other kits on an hourly basis. The empty kit sleeves are returned to be used for the next batch of parts. As with the Avanzar model, freight delivery costs and packaging are eliminated. And since parts are manufactured in small batches, quality issues can be quickly detected and corrected.

"Quality has always been the number one concern in the TPS system," said T.J. Tajima, TMMTX President. "However, Toyota's global corporate commitment to the environment is seen as an equally important component. Our innovative on-site supplier network was instituted to improve vehicle quality and reduce environmental impact. The fact that this new system also reduces time, raises efficiency and is significantly more cost-effective, are satisfying bonuses."