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By train around the production plant – automation of production at the Toyota factory

By train around the production plant – automation of production at the Toyota factory

08/01/2020

One of the production or administrative processes is somewhat limping. Carrying out it every day requires effort, additional activities or simply costs. It is getting more and more annoying, reduces production efficiency … Finally, someone says “Enough is enough!”. Next step? Brainstorming and searching for solutions. Ideas multiply and you have to choose the best one. We know these situations and we are sure that they are familiar to you too. What to do? You can entrust us with this task. We have already improved many production processes. Example? IHPL for Toyota – production automation project. 

Precision and planning

Work in a factory must be well planned is known for a long time. The fact that Toyota pays special attention to this is also not surprising. Parts assembled at manufacturing plants must be sterile, undamaged and delivered on time.This approach agrees with the management methods used in Toyota factories – Just-in-time (exactly on time). This means perfect synchronized processes in the production plant, efficient material flow and better use of employee time. These are great assumptions and work well in Toyota factories. A similar production style was also implemented at the Wałbrzych plant on a new hybrid engine production line.

How should it work?

Car parts are transported from the production site to the Toyota factory. This is a carefully thought-out process – exactly as many elements as needed at a given time should be delivered to the hall. This is important not only because it corresponds to the company’s policy of precisely planning processes, but also because of the storage space. Each imported part has its place – careless throwing one engine into another can destroy both parts. At the same time, the lack of a specific module can even stop production, and this is a big problem and cost for every production company.

As you can see, the employee responsible for delivering items has a difficult task. Controlling the number of parts in the production hall, delivering subsequent elements so that there is no downtime … it is not so easy when you have only a cell phone and a vehicle at your disposal.

How to fix it? Automation of production!

Sounds dangerous? The fact that the automation of production does not have a very good press. There is nothing to be afraid of – they are not robots that will control the production plant. It is a good design of the production process and its implementation, supported by appropriate technological solutions. Otherwise – optimization of the production process. This can also be explained more simply – just on the example of IHPL.
We knew Toyota’s purpose – fast and safe transport of the number of parts that production needs at a given moment. No disruptions, no unnecessary parts changeover, no financial loss. In a few words – a project to improve the production process. Good design!

What have we done?

It was necessary to:

  • informing the employee handling the team with parts, how many elements the production needs,
  • monitoring of the team’s position by the employees of the production hall. 

Knowing what processes in a production company look like regularly is the key to making the work run smoothly. That is why we carefully looked at how they work in Toyota and developed a plan. Knowing what processes in a production company look like on a regular basis is the key to making work run smoothly. That is why we carefully looked at how they work in Toyota and developed a plan. Our goal was to create a system that would inform all units involved in production, where the trolley is located, how many parts are needed, and how much should be prepared for transport. In the conceptual work, however, we had to take into account the specific conditions prevailing in the factory. One of the first ideas was to use GPS. However, this did not work in Toyota conditions – the train with parts moves in the closed hall and the signal was lost. We kept thinking and finally came to other solutions.

We have spread the process over several applications. However, their operation can be described as one process:

In the foundry where parts are made and in the production hall tablets with an application were placed, thanks to which the position of the trolley can be monitored. The driver, leaving the foundry, presses the appropriate button. At the same time, on the tablet in the production hall, there is information that the transport of parts has set off. Production employees also know how many parts to expect and when exactly they will be in place. Similarly, it works on the way back – even before the train returns to the foundry, its crew knows how many parts to prepare for transport. The driver himself also knows how many parts he will get and when he must appear in the hall or the foundry.

What have we achieved?

The foundry knows how many parts to send to the production line and when to prepare them. Production – how many can be expected and when. The team driver does not make empty runs. The entire production plant suffers no losses due to damaged parts or stopped due to a lack of production.

Automated, simpler process plus optimization of production costs – was that what you were looking for?

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