Toyota Marks Important Milestones in Camry Life
|   Friday, August 29, 2014
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) marked two important Camry milestones at it Kentucky auto line. They were:
Camry number 10 million rolled off the line as this is the major source of Toyota Camrys
Camry number 10 million rolled off the line in only 26 years
According to Toyota's press service, Camry number 10 million was given to one of the original plant employees who has been working continuously at the facility since its doors opened in 1988.

Some Statistics
If one does a little number-crunching, it is easy to see that this plant is very efficient. Indeed, while it was busily producing the Camrys, it was also building, not necessarily in this order:
The Camry Hybrid
The Avalon
The Avalon Hybrid
The Venza crossover in 4- and 6-cylinder configurations

The bulk of TMMK's output has been the Camry. To achieve the lofty figure of 10 million in only 26 years means they were cranking out nearly 385,000 Camrys per year. The plant has capacity to build 500,000 cars. Right now, Toyota's Newsroom Service, indicated that Toyota planning calls for 50,000 Lexus models to run off this assembly line. This will likely mean that the automaker is planning to add or has already added the capacity to increase the output of the assembly line.

Interesting Choice
It is interesting to note Toyota's plans for TMMK. While the Lexus line shares many common parts with its stablemates on the Toyota side of the auto assembly line. However, Lexus also has some body panels that are uniquely Lexus. The parts include and some of their driveline (engine, transmission, half-driveshafts and such) options.

In order to make the plans work, Toyota will likely employ JIT shipping techniques. JIT stands for "just-in-time." It means that TMMK will warehouse the common parts and then will ship the parts for the Lexus models when they are needed and not before. A computer program watches over build orders coming from headquarters and when it sees certain part numbers are needed at TMMK on a certain date to begin a run, the Lexus parts are pulled and shipped.

Using the Lexus is an interesting choice for TMMK. However, it does indicate the capability of the 7,000-member staff. It also reflects the use of rigorous inventory control and assembly line flexibility as it will likely require quick changes to the assembly line to meet the deliverables deadline for the Lexus models. It may also be a running change where the Lexus models are inserted into the assembly stream after the Lexus parts arrive and the line is reconfigured. All that is required is a one- or two-day shutdown to make the changes. It may even be quicker.

Team Strategy
In order to keep TMMK quality up and to give workers a sense of empowerment and ownership of the quality and building processes, Toyota pioneered the use of special manufacturing teams on every shift at the plant.

Under this strategy, a team is formed for each major component of the Camry, for example. The team can consist of several people but is never more than 20 or so. Each team watches its build quality and notes any problems that may have slowed work or affected quality. At the end of the week, the team meets to discuss the issues it has found and offers solutions for them. If the team decides a change is needed it sets the gears in motion to have it done in a timely manner.

Lucky Winner
And, while it seems unlikely there are still 200 active original team members from the original build crew that was hired for the 1988 opening of the manufacturing plant. Retirement and normal attrition has cut down the ranks, but the 200 still working are enthusiastic, by the look of photos released by Toyota's Newsroom.

Workers seemed genuinely happy, enthusiastic and proud of their efforts that have made the 10 million mark in 26 years possible. Other automakers have taken years longer to reach the same high water marks.

Interestingly, Toyota decided that Camry number 10 million would be donated to a lucky member of the staff at the plant. The winner would be chosen by random drawing.

The winner turned out to be an original member of the Toyota Team at TMMK. The winner was Tom Keith, a member of the QC Department and one of the 200 original team members still working.

The color of the winning Camry was white. In a funny coincidence, the first Camry off the line, one that is now sitting in a mini-museum setting in the TMMK lobby, was also white.
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