By Jay Kana
Photography courtesy of Toyota/Lexus Canada
Almost everyone has seen a Toyota on the road, and I’m willing to wager that about half of us either know someone who’s owned one or travelled in one.
They’ve earned an industry reputation for longevity, practicality and consistency in their vehicles.
The vast majority only see the finished products in dealer showrooms or on-line, while a few (relatively speaking) have taken a behind the scenes tour of their Cambridge manufacturing plant.
Recently, Toyota Canada invited myself and other industry professionals for a learning session along with a tour of this highly complex plant.
Currently, the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) organization produces the Rav4, Rav4 Hybrid, Lexus RX 350 and Lexus RX450h in their massive Cambridge plant (3.5 million square feet) and Woodstock plant (1.9 million square feet.).
Previously, the Corolla, Matrix and Solara were produced there, with the Corolla manufacturing moving elsewhere for the 2020 model year.
Interestingly, the very first Corolla was made in Cambridge in 1988 and impressively, that car sits proudly in their Visitors Centre.
The plant itself, to an outsider, is a labyrinth with millions of moving parts and thousands upon thousands of team members.
During my plant tour of around 30 minutes, my eyes darted in all directions, soaking in the intricate inner workings. There were things happening on the ground as well as in the air (moving of larger parts to maximize space) and simply watching the process was fascinating.
More impressive than the actual plant tour are the following facts that illustrate how impressive these plants are:
- In 2018, 30 years after opening, TMMC manufactured their 8,000,000th vehicle
- Almost 5,000 individual quality checks are incorporated into their manufacturing process
- TMMC has won 18 Plant Quality Awards
- TMMC has won three Platinum plant awards in the Americas
- They’ve got nearly 10,000 team members
- More than $8.5 billion dollars have been invested in these plants since 1986
- The Cambridge and Woodstock plants comprise 1,400 acres of combined land area
- TMMC has been one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers every year since 2005.
- In 2019, they’ve been one of the Waterloo area’s top employers, Canada’s best diversity employers, Canada’s Top Family Friendly employers, and Canada’s Greenest employers.
- In 2000, they were the first plant outside of Japan to manufacture a Lexus offering.
- Every year since 2006, TMMC has sent zero waste to landfill.
It’s an impressive list and what stood out the most was their dedication to empowering their team members with constant training/re-training/cross training, which helps productivity and helps ensure that nobody gets “lost in the shuffle” so to speak.
TMMC does more than churn out vehicles; they give back to the community in spades.
They raised over $630,000 for the United Way in 2018, donated $35,000 to the Woodstock Art Gallery, $100,000 in donations went to Indwell Blossom Park, $30,000 went to the Jane Goodall Foundation for environmental programming in Waterloo Region schools, and $30,000 went to the Sunbeam Centre.
So while TMMC’s created an impressive track record for themselves, the best is yet to come.
2019 saw the announcement of the Lexus NX being built there in 2022, which is a huge move forward for TMMC, job creation and the local economy.
Their Visitors Centre is impressive as there are a plethora of details about TMMC’s history, the aforementioned first Corolla and the gateway to your plant tour.
Seeing the wheels in motion at TMMC (pardon the pun!) showed me that it’s more than automobiles being created. It’s an intricate network of people and machines working together, with the human element of giving back and TMMC’s dedication to creating and sustaining an attractive atmosphere for their team.