Toyota Kirloskar Motors, the fifth largest passenger vehicle manufacturer in the country has been focussing on technologies in manufacturing products of high quality with low production costs and lesser impact on the environment. During a recent visit to the plant, Raju B Ketkale, Senior Vice President, Plant 1 & 2, Production Division, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd, talked to us about the unique manufacturing technologies of Plant 2 and other eco-friendly initiatives of the company. TKM has been adopting sustainable production methods and technologies that are significantly ahead of regulatory requirements of manufacturing in the country.
UNIQUE MANUFACTURING PROCESSES
While Plant 1 at Toyota's facility conforms to all the legal regulations in the manufacture of passenger vehicles, Plant 2 is christened as the Eco Factory. This is mainly because the technologies used at Plant 2 outdo the prescribed requirements of governing bodies, Ketkale noted. Additionally, Toyota follows a philosophy of combining new technologies and sustainable plant activities in order to maintain the Eco Factory as a model in automotive manufacturing.
Plant 2 is divided into four areas, with each area employing energy efficient technologies. The press shop employs a servo press line that is claimed to consume 40 % lesser electricity that a conventional press, and also emits 15 % less noise. Using servo technology allows for use of machines 48 % smaller in size, when compared to shops with tandem machines.
The weld shop follows a Toyota patented technology – Toyota Global Body Welding Line (TGBWL) – and is a flexible line that uses 'M' jig rotation mechanism based on different vehicle models, which translates into lesser number of lines and lesser energy consumption. Conventional welding lines at Toyota had eight models being welded on a line each, resulting in power consumption by eight lines. TGBWL instead allows for up to eight models on a single line, thus saving energy considerably.
Another new technology that Toyota has implemented is waterborne painting and wet painting technology. The company claims to be the first mass player in the industry to have implemented this system in an organised manner in India. Waterborne painting is an eco-friendly paint procedure that helps reduce the emission of hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOC) by about 50 %, Ketkale observed. The solvent contents of waterborne paints are replaced with pure water up to over 90 %, resulting in the reduction of VOCs.
Wet painting technology includes a continuous three-painting process before final oven heating of the body. Traditional painting process puts the body through a coat of primer, followed by oven heating, after which a base coat and clear coat are added, before the body is finally oven-heated. The wet painting technology completely eliminates the first oven heating, taking the body through primer, base and clear coats in succession, after which it is finally heated. This process is very unique in India, and has helped reduce CO2 emissions to a large extent, Ketkale said.
COST REDUCTION & ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES
Toyota adopts a number of methods by which it aims to reduce the cost of manufacturing at its plant. Reduction of energy usage by managing energy optimally and consuming it effectively is one of the primary methods adopted. The company has also changed the fuel for various energy requirements from LPG to CNG, in addition to improved water recycling and green power procurements, Ketkale noted. Toyota is claimed to have achieved a reduction of 28 % in the amount of energy used at the facility through such initiatives, which also include effective capacity utilisation. Housing of major component suppliers within the facility has also led to reduction in cost due to the need for lesser packing materials and logistics costs.
Toyota has undertaken numerous steps to improve the ecology of the facility, as well as the locality its plant is situated in. One major step in this direction is the waste-water treatment system of the plant that ensures zero discharge outside the plant. The company boasts of achieving about 60 % re-usability of waste water at the facility through its complex water treatment plant that uses a membrane bio-reactor and reverse osmosis.
In addition to this, the plant also carries out rainwater harvesting through its collection point that has a built-up area of 14,500 sq m. The rainwater harvesting pond can store up to 25,000 cu m of water, which Toyota reuses in the production of vehicles. These water-based initiatives have helped Toyota in being self-sufficient for water requirements.
Toyota has also carried out afforestation at its facility, mainly to offset the CO2 emissions related to the plant. In three phases, the company has covered 40,000 sq m of the facility with over 100 native plant species.
Text: Naveen Arul