Thursday, January 6, 2011
To better protect domestic factory jobs, Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese carmakers are intensifying efforts to cut production costs by introducing cutting-edge manufacturing technology.
The moves are being taken to counteract the erosion of profits caused by the yen's strength, which has prompted an exodus of manufacturing jobs to markets with cheaper labor.
Toyota on Thursday put into operation a new plant of affiliate automotive body maker Central Motor Co. in Ohira, a village in Miyagi Prefecture.
"We want to demonstrate that we can make vehicles that are superior in terms of both quality and price to those made overseas," Yasuyoshi Shirai, vice president of Central Motor, based in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, said at the new plant.
The plant has an annual capacity of 120,000 units and will replace a factory in Sagamihara that will be closed at the end of March.
The Ohira plant features a new type of conveyor system on the assembly line that supports car bodies from below, instead of suspending them from above. This method allows for significant savings in construction and ventilation because the ceiling can be built lower.
Central Motor has also stopped using expensive, dedicated equipment to rotate the vehicle body on the assembly line, instead adapting a loading shovel for the task.
Carmakers cutting costs with new technology to save jobs
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