Ever wonder what it’s like inside an automotive assembly plant? Now you don’t have to!
AutoGuide.com got an exclusive tour of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas (TMMTX), home of the brand’s Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks. Join us for a special look at this facility and make sure to check out the accompanying MEGA photo gallery.
This state-of-the-art plant is located just south of downtown San Antonio, roughly 17 miles from this city’s most famous landmark, the Alamo. Not counting various on-site suppliers, the main area of this facility covers some 2.2-million square feet.
TMMTX is situated on a 2,000-acre parcel of land, a Texas-sized piece of property that used to be a ranch. The company initially purchased 2,700 acres but gave 700 back. Groundbreaking for this factory back in was in 2003 with the first truck rolling off the line in November 2006.
All told, TMMTX employs around 7,200 employees and has the capacity to build some 200,000 trucks annually. It’s the exclusive home of Toyota’s full-size Tundra; the smaller Tacoma is also built there, though its North American production split between Texas and another plant in Baja, California.
Currently, this factory is running at about 120 percent capacity in order to keep up with demand. Workers are on a rotating two-shift schedule that ensures maximum productivity without forcing people to work nights permanently.
Running full-throttle, a truck rolls off the line every 60 seconds. Production is comprised of 16 different variants of Tacoma including two body styles along with 25 variations of the Tundra, which is available in three different flavors.
Taking care of the environment, TMMTX has aims to recycle all of its trash so nothing ends up in landfills. They also reuse some 1.2 million gallons of water every day, an important achievement in arid south Texas.
While its workforce is non-union, the company still takes care of them. A prime example of this is on-site healthcare, something that’s proven to be very successful. It keeps employees ready and costs down for everyone, with copays of just $5.
Prior to our official tour of the assembly line, we were given a briefing about the plant and its workforce and then reminded about the importance of safety. With formalities out of the way, we donned hardhats, goggles and steel-toe shoes before loading up on an electric tram.
Being shuttled around, one of the first things you notice about TMMTX is how quiet it is. There’s little of noise one would expect from heavy manufacturing, no grinding, hammering or booming sounds. Just the contented whirr of highly oiled machinery and expertly trained workers.
But it’s not totally silent. Curiously, whenever there’s an issue on the line music starts playing, like some low-grade midi files of classical tunes. At one station Beethoven’s Für Elise started up, indicating that something had gone awry. It was the only song I recognized.
Another interesting aspect of this plant is how clean everything is; you can practically dine on the concrete floors. Like the muted sounds, none of the expected grit or grime is present here, something that’s appreciated but hardly exclusive to Toyota. Modern vehicle manufacturing is no longer the toxic, dangerous process it once was. Safety and environmental responsibility have become top priorities in recent decades and the changes are appreciated.
For an in-depth look inside TMMTX make sure to check out the accompanying MEGA gallery. It’s a rare glimpse inside one of Toyota’s most important production facilities, and who knows, you may even see your future truck being built.