When Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Guanajuato opens in Central Mexico in 2019, thousands of new team members will be tasked with assembling 200,000 Corollas annually.
But, if yesterday’s groundbreaking is any indication, the true mission of Toyota’s 15th North American manufacturing plant will be twofold: Serve the community of Guanajuato and usher in a brand new era of global manufacturing.
“TMMGT will be our first plant in North America to incorporate innovative production engineering and revolutionary manufacturing technology known as Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA,” TMMGT President Mike Bafan told a crowd of media and dignitaries yesterday. “Take my word for it: Corolla’s newest home will be a leading manufacturer that wins over the hearts of not only those who buy our products, but the nearly 2,000 team members who will make them and the communities where we live and work.”
From the Ground Up
The buzz about TMMGT is that it’s the first plant in North America to be built from the ground up with TNGA technology.
But what is TNGA? Well, the key TNGA phrase may be “more intelligent use of common parts.” By building more models on common platforms and fully leveraging Toyota’s supply chain, manufacturing costs will come down. The TNGA platform also promises to lead to vehicles with a lower center of gravity made of lighter, more compact components. For customers, that will translate into greater fuel efficiency and overall better cars.
And it all takes root at TMMGT.
“No other Toyota plant is set up this way,” Bafan told the crowd. “So we have a great responsibility to measure up to very high expectations.”
Because the plant will be built from the ground up with TNGA in mind, it has several advantages:
It will employ more compact production equipment that requires less space, consumes less energy and reduces the lead time between assembly processes.
Team members will benefit from more ergonomically-designed tools and equipment as well as built-in quality stations.
Increased standardization means the factory tools will apply to multiple vehicles, shortening the changeover time between models.
These “simple and slim” production lines can be easily lengthened or shortened in response to demand. Overhead conveyance devices are eliminated, compact equipment is installed on top of the plant floors, and the paint booths are smaller.
“From a manufacturing take, you’re going to have more common parts,” Bafan said in a recent interview. “So it’s easier to manage parts supplies because you don’t have a gazillion part numbers and variations of the same parts. Where you’ll really see the impact is the product itself. Anything and everything that improves performance of the vehicle, you’ll see a major shift to it and a noticeable difference in the way the cars handle.”
Yesterday’s groundbreaking was a tangible sign of Toyota’s commitment to Mexico. The company is making a $1 billion investment in TMMGT, but there’s much more to this than just cash.
“This groundbreaking is a major milestone that says ‘OK, now we’re ready to build our home,’” Bafan said. “Now we’re ready to be a part of the neighborhood and community.”
For example, Toyota said it looks to play a role in helping to clean up Guanajuato’s Rio Queretaro and strengthening water conservation efforts. Further, Toyota announced yesterday it will donate safety equipment and five Hilux trucks to local police and fire departments.
“Toyota’s investment in Guanajuato represents a long-term sign of our commitment to Mexico, its people and the Bajio region,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota Motor Corp., board chairman. “TMMGT will play a key role in how we make products in the future, while setting a standard for manufacturing excellence in the industry.”
For Bafan, yesterday marked the official beginning of a beautiful friendship.
“We want a plant that is good for people and good for the environment,” he said. “That means building long-lasting relationships with our new neighbors and our new community. I’m excited about that part of it because you get to explore new places and talk to new people.”
And finally, he assured the crowd that Toyota won’t be fazed by the immense job of building such a game-changing plant.
“Let me say this,” Bafan said. “Estamos listos para enfrentar esta reto.”
Translated to English: We are ready for this challenge.
By Dan Nied
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