Y-12 team garners efficiency best practices at Toyota’s Kentucky plant

Posted: October 17, 2014 - 2:25pm

Y‑12 Production managers recently gained a new perspective on productivity after they toured the Toyota Motor Manufacturing facility in Georgetown, Kentucky.

“We talk about creating a vision for what excellence looks like at Y‑12, but we didn’t have a shared experience to base it on,” Production Operations Manager Rocky Walters said. “This trip showed us a premier manufacturing facility in action and gave us that shared view.”

The Kentucky plant is Toyota’s largest in North America; the 7.5 million square foot facility is equal to 156 football fields under one roof. It employs about 7,000 workers who build roughly 2,000 vehicles and engines every day using the Toyota Production System.

While many Toyota practices may not be directly applicable to Y‑12’s operations, the group still came away with ideas and inspiration. “We do different things and in a different volume, but a lot of the principles are applicable,” noted Reed Mullins, Assembly and Disassembly Production manager.

In fact, after the tour, the group spent more than an hour in the parking lot brainstorming ideas and future actions — everything from ergonomics and quality to organization and communication.

No matter the outcome or future improvements at Y‑12, Walters saw the trip as a great opportunity to benchmark areas of excellence. “It opens things up and shows us what’s possible,” Walters said. “People tend to get locked in their paradigm. If nothing else, seeing the Toyota Production System in action will help us think of new ways to improve our operations.”