Sat, 12 Apr 2014 15:05:00 EST
Mitsuru Kawai is overseeing a return to the old ways at Toyota factories throughout Japan. Having spent 50 years at the Japanese automaker, Kawai remembers when manual skills were prized at the company and "experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything." Company CEO Akio Toyoda personally chose Kawai to develop programs to teach workers metalcraft such as how to forge a crankshaft from scratch, and 100 workstations that formerly housed machines have been set aside for human training.
Tue, 19 Feb 2013 08:27:00 EST
The idea is that when employees personally understand the fabrication of components, they will understand how to make better machines. Said Kawai, "To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine." Lessons learned by the newly skilled workers have led to shorter production lines - in one case, 96percent shorter - improved parts production and less scrap.
Taking time to give workers the knowledge to solve problems instead of merely having them "feed parts into a machine and call somebody for help when it breaks down," Kawai's initiative is akin to that of Toyota's Operations Management Consulting Division, where new managers are given a length of time to finish a project but not given any help - they have to learn on their own. It's not a step back from Toyota's quest to build more than ten million cars a year; it's an effort to make sure that this time they don't sacrifice quality while making the effort. Said Kawai, "We need to become more solid and get back to basics."
Toyota showed off the Touring Sports version of the Auris next to the newly introduced Auris Hybrid at last year's Paris Motor Show, but didn't say much about it. Six months later, just ahead of the Geneva Motor Show, the company is crowing about that wagon going on sale with the Hybrid Synergy Drive, creating the Auris Touring Sports Hybrid.
Tue, 21 May 2013 08:46:00 EST
The hauling version of the exceptionally popular Auris hatchback doesn't just add a hybrid wagon to the compact segment, Toyota says it offers class-leading load capacity of 1,658 liters with the Easy-Flat one-touch rear seats down. With the rear seats up, it offers 530 liters. The little big gulp is possible because the hybrid batteries have been placed under the rear seats instead of being in the luggage area.
It looks the same as the hatchback save for the fact that it's 285 millimeters (11.2 inches) longer behind the C pillar, has a redesigned tailgate and a lower load floor. Engines beyond the hybrid will match the rest of the lineup: 1.3-liter and 1.6-liter gasoline engines and a 1.4-liter D-4D diesel. There's a chance we'll see it in Geneva, if we don't there's a press release below to tell you all about it.
No, a Ford Expedition did not drive from Russia to Canada via the North Pole, but that's exactly what a team of intrepid explorers accomplished recently. Using specially-modified buses with massive tires, the group slowly drove 2,485 miles in 70 days over drifting ice, occasionally using a pickaxe to clear a path and staying on guard for chasms that could open up and plunge the team into the frigid arctic waters. Average speeds were about 6 mph, "at the speed of a (farm) tractor." While the big tires technically allowed the buses to float if the need arose, the team preferred to stay out of the water to keep the suspension from getting coated in thick, hard ice. Falling in on foot would mean almost certain death.
According to Phys.org, the buses were powered by Toyota diesel engines, but were built with prototype parts from a previous driving expedition to the North Pole. Right now, the machines are parked in a garage in Canada's Resolute Bay while the the team rests up with family back home. They plan to continue their trek to back across the Bering Straight to Russia. If successful, the team may eventually offer a version of their buses for commercial sale.