Hello and welcome back to the holidays in the Dogpound. I have to admit I made a bit of a boo-boo. I thought I...

Hello and welcome back to the holidays in the Dogpound. I have to admit I made a bit of a boo-boo. I thought I was behind a week, but in actuality I was ahead a week, so please accept a belated Merry Christmas! Hope you got everything you wished for.

The weekend before New Year’s Day, I will be flying to North Carolina to visit my oldest daughter and her husband, while my other daughter will be flying in from Knoxville with her son so we can spend a few days together. I did get to do one special thing for the holiday: I took a tour of a Toyota assembly plant. I have wanted to visit one since I went to college to study basic manufacturing principles and applications (industrial production management), and at that time the Japanese were introducing a lot of new concepts that were turning the domestic car manufacturing industry upside down, including Kanban, a scheduling system for lean and just-in-time manufacturing. Good news is that the U.S. manufacturing industry finally woke up, and they now fully embrace those concepts.

Even though I have worked at plants that have used some of these principals with varying degrees of results, this was my first opportunity to see them applied in a much larger and complicated operation. The facility is over 9 acres under roof, and we had to take a modified golf cart to see most of it. There are hundreds of robots welding joints and moving cars over and around the plant, including numerous autonomous vehicles bringing parts to the assembly line and empty containers back to the storage area. (There are about 4,000-5,000 welds on a vehicle of which most are done by robots.)

As we were told, they do not have a warehouse. Everything is scheduled for a specific time slot, and those parts will be used on the line within the next 24-hour production cycle. It takes about 20 hours from the stamping of the sheet metal to the exit of a completed vehicle. The line is laid out, so each station has 75 seconds to complete the assigned task before the assembly line moves the car forward to the next work station. Workers rotate jobs in that station every two hours to avoid boredom and fatigue from redundant movements.

this plant they produced about 1,700 vehicles a day, seven days a week. Needless to say, I was like a kid in a Christmas store. I wanted to go around again, but they could not accommodate me. Sad face!

“May you never grow so old that you stop searching the night sky on Christmas Eve.” — Dogpound Wisdom

“Do you believe in life after death?” the boss asked one of his employees. “Yes, sir.” the new recruit replied. “Well then, that makes everything just fine,” the boss said. “After you left early yesterday to go to your grandmother’s funeral, she stopped in to see you.”

A husband and wife were involved in a petty argument, both of them unwilling to admit they might be in error. “I’ll admit I’m wrong,” the wife told her husband in a conciliatory attempt, “if you’ll admit I’m right.” He agreed and, like a gentleman, insisted she go first. “I’m wrong,” she said. With a twinkle in his eye, he responded, “You’re right!” [PS..do not try this at home..really!]
As always, be good, do good, play safe, and remember: you are never too old for Christmas.

– JR