The TILT Lab: 4 Things to Know

Inside the kaizen wonderland where team members create, innovate and solve problems

July 10, 2018
If you want to understand what the TILT Lab is, the name is a good place to start. The makerspace is intended to shift or “tilt” team members’ conventional thinking on its axis and help them see concepts through to prototypes. Here’s what you need to know about the “creative nucleus” of the Production Engineering Manufacturing Center (PEMC) in Georgetown, Kentucky:

Gather ‘Round – Toyota team members get a tour of the TILT Lab, housed inside the Production Engineering and Manufacturing Center (PEMC).

Testing, Testing…

The TILT Lab was created to give Toyota engineers everything they need to take an idea from concept to prototype. Imagine an engineer’s playground: 3D printers, virtual and augmented reality technology, lasers – nearly anything you need to dream up an idea and create it, all under one roof. Once tested, TILT Lab creations may even be applied at Toyota plants to improve processes or solve challenges.

“One of the key missions of One Toyota was to facilitate more effective communication and quicker decision making across our regional business units,” says Luis Alcantara, group vice president of production engineering. “The TILT Lab will mirror this concept in terms of bringing new ideas faster to the mass production floor. Our PE members can now dream of a concept, visualize it in a design studio, create and fabricate a bench model, and conduct a prototype trial all in-house. In the past we would have contracted this work out to vendors resulting in longer lead times and added costs. We can now collaborate across our internal departments in a more efficient manner and practice our Cultural Priorities.”

Something for Everyone

The Lab clocks in at about 5,000 square feet. It’s comprised of six studios: machining, collaboration, additive, design, imaging, electronics and fabrication. Team members must complete training in respective areas before they’re granted access to the equipment.

Wave Hello – Carlo Cruz, senior engineer in digital engineering, planning and development at the Production and Engineering Manufacturing Center (PEMC), collaborates with team members inside the TILT Lab.

All Access

Speaking of access, The TILT Lab was designed with engineers in mind, but any Toyota team member is welcome to check it out. The Lab is currently in a “soft open” phase, with plans to be fully operational later this year.

“The TILT Lab has generated a lot of interest and excitement, not only with our PE members, but also visitors to PEMC,” says Alcantara. “We purposely located the TILT Lab front and center and routed all foot traffic by our lab observation windows in an effort to promote innovation and our company values.”

Inspiration

The TILT Lab originated from a PEMC team member’s idea, and was inspired by and modeled closely after Autodesk’s Pier 9 in San Francisco, California. One big difference? Pier 9 includes a gourmet test kitchen “lab” – something the engineers at PEMC didn’t need.

By Kristen Orsborn

 

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