Weighty Issue -- John Tinney, TEMA group vice president of Powertrain and Shared Services, demonstrates a weight lifting test that's part of Job Fit, a program that aims to align team members with the tasks they are asked to complete based on their physical capabilities.
By the end of the year, nearly every new Toyota vehicle will come standard with Toyota Safety Sense, a bundle of advanced active safety technologies. That fact, among others, serves as tangible evidence of the company’s commitment to promoting the safety of its customers.
Meanwhile, Toyota is also taking steps to reinforce its commitment to the safety of its team members – in particular those who work on the assembly lines of the company’s North American manufacturing facilities.
The latter might not garner TSS’ headlines. But it’s no less important.
A Toyota Motor North America Safety Summit – held recently at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK) – helped cast a spotlight on this concern. Also noteworthy was the list of some 30 attendees that included such executives as Tadahisa Isono, executive vice president of Product Engineering and Manufacturing; Brian Krinock, senior vice president of Manufacturing; Millie Marshall, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana president; Luis Alcantara, group vice president of Vehicle Production Engineering; and John Tinney, TMNA group vice president of Powertrain and Shared Services.
“Toyota has long maintained a close focus on workplace ergonomics,” says Marisol Barrero, TMNA ergonomics project manager. “The summit was simply a way to call attention to a new strategy on this front with support from the highest levels of our organization, including TMC.”
Talk About It -- Some 30 representatives from throughout the Toyota organization gathered at TMMK to explore new ways to enhance the safety of manufacturing sites for frontline team members.
Focus on Final Assembly
Improved workplace safety begins with monitoring activity and measuring its impact. Barrero says the majority of recorded injuries are musculoskeletal in nature such as muscle and tendon strains, repetitive stress syndrome and tendinitis. Many of these challenges tend to arise in final assembly, where team members are needed to carry out fine detailed work.
In its quest to make such tasks less stressful, Toyota formed three cross-departmental teams and charged them with honing in on the roles played by people, processes and parts. Project leaders for each team joined the executives at the summit to officially kick off the campaign, though progress had already been made on some of the fronts.
A good example of this is Job Fit, a program that aims to align team members with the tasks they are asked to complete based on their physical capabilities. So, for instance, how tall is the team member? How far can they reach? How much can they lift? On the flip side, how much physical force is required to complete a specific task? The “people” team has begun to analyze these and other related measurements, with the goal of establishing organization-wide standards.
Hands On -- Joe Meade (left), TMMK assistant manager of General Assembly, and Tim Hollander, TEMA vice president, learn what it takes to install an intermediate shaft on the new Camry.
Meanwhile, the “parts” team has come up with a list of the 10 parts that require the most force and induce the most stress to install.
Each of these parts is now being closely scrutinized to determine if there are alternative ways to install them. And with TMC’s involvement, the cross-departmental team will be able to take it a step further and have a voice in how future parts are designed. That might make it possible to develop components that still do the job yet are less taxing to handle.
Detail Work -- Tadahisa Isono, TEMA executive vice president, installs a door trim pad on the new Camry.
Just Getting Started
The three teams’ work has just begun. And in true kaizen
fashion, it will likely continue indefinitely.
“Obviously, the concept of workplace safety is nothing new for Toyota,” says Barrero. “What’s different is the multi-disciplinary approach. We’ve really taken this very important work to a new level.”
By Dan Miller