Upgraded Wheels -- The 2018 Tacoma SR comes standard with 16-inch styled steel wheels (above). But customers can choose to swap them out for 16-inch dark-satin alloy accessory rims (below). That switch now happens at TMMTX, saving time and cost and boosting competitiveness.
Transforming One Toyota from idea to reality has required a huge investment in time, energy and capital. But we’ve already begun to realize a tangible return.
A case in point: the installation of accessories.
This success story begins when a dealer places an order for a new Toyota vehicle. Depending on the anticipated needs and wants of the customer, that dealer could choose to upgrade the vehicle’s standard equipment with one or more Toyota accessories. For vehicles assembled abroad, such specialty items would typically be installed at the port of entry. For vehicles made in North America, the desired accessories might be added at a marshalling yard adjacent to the plant.
But as Dave Brannon explains, those processes — while tried and true — aren’t always the most efficient.
“Ideally, you want to install as many accessories inside the plant as possible,” says TMNA’s senior manager of Accessory Product Development. “We started to do this to a limited extent, what we refer to as inline accessories or ILA, 20 years ago. But since we began making the move to One Toyota, this approach has really picked up a lot of momentum.”
Coordination is Key
Manufacturing a vehicle is a highly complex exercise. Adding accessories to the mix only ratchets up the challenge, especially if the lines of communication among the players — from the team members who design and engineer the vehicle, to those who make it, to those who design the accessories — become tangled.
One Toyota’s closer alignment of manufacturing, sales and marketing is helping to sort all of that out. As a result, more accessories are entering the picture along the assembly line, rather than being held back until after the vehicle has already been made.
Take, for instance, a Tacoma SR vehicle assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas with standard wheels and tires. We developed a 16-inch dark-satin alloy accessory wheel as an optional upgrade. Without ILA, a team member at the TMMTX’s marshalling yard would need to make the wheel/tire switch. That would involve removing the factory wheels and tires, removing the tires from those wheels and installing them on the accessory wheels, then putting those rims on the vehicle.
“You’re talking about 45 minutes of extra labor,” says Brannon. “There’s also a waste or muda cost. In the past, we would recycle the factory wheels, but that only recouped a small amount of their value. And then there’s the environmental impact.
“As an alternative, we did come up with a ‘dummy wheel’ exchange program with some plants. That, however, was manual, tedious and expensive to manage on both sides. It also drove up the price. And, of course, a higher price makes an accessory less attractive to the customer. That limited sales and affected our overall profitability.”
ILA for remove-and-replace accessories solves these problems. It can be applied to any accessory that requires a lot of disassembly or replacement of factory components, such as security systems and remote engine starters and performance parts like TRD shocks and springs. Multiply that by the thousands of vehicles this applies to each year and you can begin to see the impact on Toyota’s profitability and competitiveness.
“This change is big win for those of us in manufacturing, too,” says Greg Rexroat, accessory manager/coordinator for TMMTX. “In addition to lower overall costs and the elimination of a temporary or returnable part, we’re also gaining time in the development phase of new accessories — which we can put to better use planning for new models.”
Shock to the System -- These TRD Pro Bilstein shocks are among the types of accessories that can be installed along the manufacturing line rather than at a marshalling yard after the vehicle is fully assembled.
‘A Big Cultural Shift’
The practice is growing at a fast pace. The initial accessory plans for all future generations of North-American produced models have initial accessory installation plans have targeted nearly 100 percent ILA application. And there are ongoing studies to determine the viability of making the transition for most current North American models.
Meanwhile, Brannon says accessory-supported packages and grade strategies have become an increasingly attractive way to reenergize vehicles as they make their way from launch to the end of their lifecycle.
Also significant: The Accessory Product Development team — a small subset of TMNA’s Parts department — now has a seat at the vehicle planning table. That’s making it possible for it to develop an accessory plan for a new model before its design is set, rather than be forced to work within the confines of a vehicle after it’s a done deal.
“It’s a big cultural shift,” says Brannon. “Our team is always trying to come up with breakthrough features. But trying to fit an accessory into an existing vehicle design can increase cost and limit marketability, so it doesn’t always work out. Now, as soon as work begins on the next generation of a model, we get involved. It’s fun and fulfilling to get the opportunity to see our accessories make such a positive impact on a Toyota model’s success.”
The bigger picture? This is just one of what promises to be many returns on the One Toyota investment.
“The expansion of inline accessories is one example of the competitive spirit we are striving to see across One Toyota,” says Norm Bafunno, TMNA chief competitiveness officer. “Identifying an opportunity for process improvement and taking the first step is what it’s all about. The One Toyota Competitiveness Project Team has collaborated across the organization with groups such as SPAD, PPM, Manufacturing Plants and R&D to support increased ILA adoption. A few years ago, this project would not have happened, and that business reform alone is cause for excitement within the organization.
“Congratulations to the entire ILA team,” adds Bafunno. “The more we implement ideas such as this, the more likely we will thrive and continue to build upon our competitive edge in the marketplace.”
By Dan Miller