Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Mid Hudson Valley, NY (USA)
Re: Sienna Plant Tour
I had the most amazing experience seeing the Toyota principles of lean manufacturing at work during my tour of the Tsutsumi assembly plant in Toyota City, Aichi, Japan in September, 2006. This sprawling line builds 5-6 different car models for Japanese consumption as well as cars for export to the USA (LH & RH drive) simultaneously on the same track, in an ever changing mix of product! That includes the LH & RH drive version of the Prius. The kids were given plastic Prius model kits as their ‘take home’ prize for attending. Everyone was happy!
We even got to see the response when a worker blew the whistle on a slacking robotic welder, and the line came to an immediate halt. Pretty exciting to see about 30 people descend on the station, slap the welder around a bit for screwing up, redo the roof panel on one car, inspect another, and then sound the ‘all clear’.
Our family was there as guests of a dear old friend and employee. Our friend works in their patent & legal office, and she e-mailed us an invitation to her wedding in nearby Nagoya. I responded, pretty much as a joke, that we would attend if she could arrange a VIP plant tour. Two days later it was a done deal, and I was obliged to book 4 plane tickets to Osaka! As a car geek, it was sort of my day in heaven. And the very traditional temple wedding later that week wasn’t bad either! Just kidding – that was fantastic.
Big impression of the day: Remember the scene in Monsters, Inc. when Sculley and Boo end up on the roller coaster door moving system? That’s kind of what it looked like at one point. In a sister building they assemble complete doors. Every color, interior trim option, power or manual, sets of 2 or 4, etc. for LH or RH bodies rolling down the line. Hundreds of doors swinging by on an overhead tram, and the right set drop down to mate with the car at the appointed time!
We were in pretty heady company on the tour that day. I’ve never hung with an Ambassador before!
Current: '15 Sienna Limited Premium (FWD), '14 Subaru Outback, '13 Honda CRV AWD.
Past: '08 Sienna LE (FWD), '02 Subaru Outback, '02 Honda Odyssey EX