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Lean Training

Toyota finds faster, more efficient ways to train its employees.

In the basic-skills training area, team leaders from all over the globe are brought up to speed on basic assembly skills.
Toyota Motor Corp., faced with mounting training costs and quality assurance problems as it expands operations around the world, established a global production center in July 2003.

Now in its 18th month of operation, the center, located inside a fivestory building at the automaker’s Motomachi plant, has trained nearly 1,000 workers, half from overseas. By 2008, the automaker estimates it will have trained around 5,000 in Japan and several thousand more at overseas branches in Europe and North America.

“In the past,” says Toyota executive Kosuke Shiramizu, “preparations for model changes outside Japan were timed to coincide with the domestic production schedule. The Japanese “parent” plant would then provide support on an individual basis to overseas affiliates, meaning that each step from vehicle design to facility modification had to be replicated.”
Under the new format, Toyota brings together team leaders and line workers from plants planning to produce a particular model. In the case of the Corolla, the model is produced at 12 assembly plants around the world.

Shiramizu, who is in charge of global manufacturing and quality control, explains that the fundamental purpose of the global production center is “to reduce the overall volume of work across all regions. By eliminating duplication we can increase efficiency,” he says. The goal is to cut support hours in half.

With the August launch of the first of five new Hilux-based models at Toyota Motor Thailand Co., the automaker succeeded in reducing support hours by an estimated 30 percent. Management expects to cut those hours even further as each new model is rolled out at plants in Indonesia, South Africa and Argentina.

The company says instructional efficiency is more than six times greater than under the “parent” plant arrangement where team leaders and line workers shuttle back and forth across the Pacific or between Japan and Europe or Southeast Asia. Toyota estimates that training time has been cut in half from four to two weeks.

Inside the global production center are meeting rooms and classrooms, a basic-skills training area, and a 72,000 sq.ft. pilot production plant that includes mini-stations for stamping, welding, painting, parts-handling, final assembly and inspection. In all, some 18 different stations are included. A key output of the center will be the creation of some 3,000 “visual” manuals of photographs and videos, each running five to six minutes, to help teach workers basic tasks. So far, Toyota says it has created around 2,000 “manuals” which include such tasks as tightening screws, joining door-lock rods and door handles, assembling engines and installing doors.

Workers learn how to properly hang doors in one of 18 mini-stations in Toyota’s 72,000 sq.ft. pilot assembly plant.

A trainee inspects a door panel for die defects.
Supervisors teach proper interior installation.
One of some 3,000 visual manuals used to train employees.

This article was provided exclusively to Automotive Industries by J•REPORTS, a new information service offering in-depth coverage of automotive technology based in Tokyo. For additional information about this and other studies and prices, contact

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Sat. July 20th, 2024

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