The plant is only about an hour from my house. My dad loves cars, so he wanted to see it. I’m just fascinated by manufacturing plants in general, so I wanted to see it, too. So, my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law and I packed into my parents’ Lincoln Towne Car and drove to Georgetown.
The first thing you notice about the plant is that it is HUGE. And consists of more than one huge building. You just drive and drive trying to find the main entrance as there are a total of ten. All together, they said the plant is 7.5 MILLION square feet! They even have their own race track there to test the cars after assembly. I think they said it was the largest manufacturing plant in the U.S. and I believe it. This plant is their second largest – their largest is in Japan. The place is so immense that they give you the tour on a tram.
Once inside, they give you a ten-minute introductory video, then give you safety glasses, a head-set so you can hear the tour guide over the noise of the plant, and take you in groups on their trams.
The plant itself is fascinating. They’re proponents of kaizen (continuous improvement) and just-in-time manufacturing, so the process is incredibly efficient. You also notice just how clean everything is. I don’t know when they clean the buildings because I only saw one cleaning person the whole tour. There are also unmanned, automated cars operated by magnets in the floors that carry parts and equipment all over the plant. They have their own “lane” painted on the floor so people know not to get in their way.
About 7,000 people work there and cars, in various stages of assembly, move past you everywhere, including on two or three levels above your head. The overhead levels have grated floors so you can see straight up the ceiling. You find yourself looking side-to-side and up-and-down as fast as you can as the tram drives by. They showed us the entire assembly process starting with the 24-ton rolls of sheet metal to the finished cars rolling off the line. It’s a busy, bustling place complete with six cafeterias, a daycare center and it’s own gym (even though, the plant is so big that it would be exercise enough!).
The tram tour took about an hour and took you everywhere except the painting building (as any piece of lint can ruin the finish). The only complaint I could make is that I really wanted to get up closer to some of these machines and robots to see how they worked. The dyes they use to stamp the sheet metal are as big as a car so I would really love to see those machines operating up close as well.
All and all, it was a good day. If you’re ever near Georgetown, Kentucky, I highly recommend stopping by the Toyota plant for their tour. The tour is free, so all you spend is your time. Just call ahead to make an appointment so you know they have space available. To find out more information about the tour, this link has all you need to know (and some cool photos).
I hope everyone is having a great day! Happy knitting!