Section 4. Plant Construction and Expansion
Item 2. Aiming for Monthly Production of 100,000 Units
Takaoka Plant, Higashifuji Plant, and Miyoshi Plant constructed
Toyota decided to construct the Takaoka Plant as a dedicated passenger car plant in order to mass-produce the Corolla and achieve monthly production of 100,000 units. Toyota began purchasing for a plant approximately 1.25 million square meters of hilly land that straddled Takaoka-cho (now a part of Toyota City), Miyoshi-cho (now Miyoshi City) and Kariya City in Aichi Prefecture in May 1965 and established the Takaoka Plant Construction Committee with Director Masaaki Noguchi as its chairman in December.1 Plant construction began in January 1966 based on the following policies:
- 1.Plant to have a monthly production capacity of 20,000 units.
- 2.Production vehicle to be a new mass-market car (Corolla).
- 3.In the future, to be made into an integrated plant from stamping to assembly.
Takaoka Plant was laid out as a passenger car manufacturing plant from stamping to assembly processes with monthly production capacity of 16,000 units at the time of completion of the first phase of construction2 The plant was to be expanded in stages in conjunction with the pace of increased production.
The first phase of construction was completed in September 1966 and included a body line, a painting line, and an assembly line as well as a 2,300-meter test track. A completion ceremony was conducted in December of that year.3
Numerous welding presses were installed in the body welding processes of the body line. For the welding assembly process, a loop line format in which the welding was done on jig platforms that were transported on a circular conveyor was used, greatly increasing assembly efficiency and precision.
State-of-the-art auto painting equipment was adopted for the painting line. The latest technology was introduced to achieve smoother, shinier, and more uniform painting, prevent corrosion, improve workability, and reduce costs. And in a first-time combination, electrophoretic (electrodeposition) painting and electrostatic painting were used together with a new method for applying the top coat.
Toyota also installed for the first time a computer-based online control system for production control. Work orders for the painting and assembly lines were issued from a central control room, and the status of inventories of delivered parts and the operating conditions of equipment were centrally controlled.
The Corolla was a strong-seller since its announcement in the autumn of 1966, and production had trouble keeping up with sales. In response, Toyota began building the No. 2 Assembly Plant on the south side of the No. 1 Assembly Plant in July 1967, and construction was completed in January 1968. The No. 2 Assembly Plant comprised body welding processes beyond the main body line as well as painting and assembly lines. In addition, the existing stamping plant was expanded, and the body line was expanded in March 1968.
In conjunction with full-fledged highway development that began in the 1960s, the required high-speed performance and reliability of automobiles became increasingly rigorous. For this reason, Toyota began to search for large tracts of land as sites for plants with high-speed test tracks and adequate testing and research facilities. Toyota found the 2 million square meters of land in what is now Susono City in Shizuoka Prefecture in June 1965.
The first phase of construction was immediately started, and in November 1966, an automobile proving ground was completed, followed by a passenger car assembly plant in March 1967. The completion ceremony was conducted on May 10.4 This plant, known as the Higashifuji Plant, initially produced the Toyota Sports 800 and other vehicles that had been produced by Kanto Auto Works, Ltd., and it outsourced production at the plant to Kanto Auto Works. The high-speed test track of the automobile proving ground had a total circuit length of 3.7 kilometers with a flat straightaway of 1.3 kilometers and featured a seamless asphalt surface for the entire course, which included curved sections.5
In preparation for monthly production of 100,000 units, Toyota decided to construct a dedicated machining plant to raise the productivity of its passenger car plants even further and reinforce its production systems. In May 1967, Toyota purchased approximately 300,000 square meters of land for a new plant in Uchikoshi, Miyoshi-cho, Nishikamo-gun (now, Miyoshi City), Aichi Prefecture, which is near both the Motomachi and Takaoka plants.
In March of that year, the Miyoshi Plant Construction Committee was established with General Manager Yasumasa Ishihara as its chairman. The committee adopted a construction plan for a machining plant that would focus on production of passenger car suspension parts and other small sub-assemblies, and the first phase of construction was started in September. Operations began in stages in March 1968, and a ceremony to mark completion of the entire plant was conducted in July. The No. 1 Machining Plant specialized in machining and assembly of steering components and propeller shafts, and the No. 2 Machining Plant focused on mass production by cold forging of small parts such as piston pins and specialized bolts.