“Good thinking, good products” is the slogan that Toyota factories around the globe keep in mind. Sure enough, their motto was eminent during our visit to the Toyota Motors Factory and Toyota Kaikan Museum in Miyakawa City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
During the tour, we viewed the production line from a walkway above. Unfortunately, pictures were not permitted in the factory.
Toyota Motors Factory Tour
One of the most famous car dealers in the United States is Toyota, but little did we know that there was so much production behind the cars that are made at the Toyota Motors Factory. The Toyota Motors Factory in Miyakawa City was established in 1981 and is 100% owned by Toyota Motor Corporation. In January 2016, their technical center went through a series of changes to focus solely on design, development, and production technology. During the Toyota Motors Factory Tour, the Kakehashi TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars had the chance to see these changes whether it was robots creating a mirror finish or carrying heavy equipment.
The Toyota Motors Factory is divided into two plants where approximately 6,200 employees contribute in manufacturing 1,730 cars per day. However, the daily demand at the plant depends on customer demand.
There are four parts to the production of a car: welding, washing, coating/painting, and human assembly. There are 30,000 parts per vehicle, 18 hours of labor and 5 hours of test driving and checking for last errors in the car before sending it to dealerships worldwide.
Because Toyota manufactures cars in North America, China, and Europe, the company must understand the specifications of each country. The factory employees attach a sheet with different codes that notifies the assembly employees which parts and additional items are needed to for each car. Once the company knows the designation of the car, Lexus keeps the Japanese/English names while Toyota changes the car’s name to accommodate the specific region. Toyota values their customers by always making sure that all 1,800 points are checked on each car.
Throughout the tour, we saw visual controls that displayed the current production numbers and the location of the requests. When there was an issue with a certain section of the production line, a frontline worker pulls the andon, or a system that notifies workers of issues that arise during the production. Then, the andon portion on the visual display lights up red and until the issue is solved, the production line is stopped.
One of the striking aspects of Toyota that we noticed was how an employee’s idea is incorporated to better the products and the factory work. Annually, nearly 28,000 proposals are made by employees and each year, new ideas are implemented. For example, the ラクラクシート, or the “easy easy seat,” was an idea of an employee. The seat allows the operator to move inside of the car with the necessary tools attached to the seat post.
Toyota Kaikan Museum
At the Toyota Kaikan Museum, there were various displays of car parts and how each part functions and what Toyota has in mind in terms of pursuing luxury.