Picking up the story from part 1, we continued our tour on line at Lexus. Moving across the viewing platform we went upstream in the assembly process to see the fitting of those luxurious leather seats.
on our way into the main plant, I noticed a mid sized delivery truck, just preparing to reverse onto a loading bay. From our vantage point we could see the truck was delivering the leather seats, but I noticed these were “kitted” as a set to kit out a car at a time.
We could see that within only a few minutes, each of these sets of seats were installed, initially using a robot to do the heavy lifting, and then finished off by an operator locking in the final bolts.
So on the surface, this looks like a remarkable feat, suppliers delivering directly to the line and as we observed, the truck was reverse loaded in the exact assembly system! How could Lexus manage such a feat of material synchronisation?
On discussing what we saw with the guide, we understood just how the JIT system for seats worked.
Basically, 3 days prior to the scheduled delivery, Lexus “lock in” the schedule and agree with the supplier the vehicle loading sequence, delivery date & time. The supplier has a plus or minus 4 minutes tolerance to hit the delivery window.
So what we saw on the line was what amounted to a 4 car “buffer”, on seat delivery. We also know that the supplier was paid for their work on the day of delivery…nice work if you can get it!
For me this was a superb example of supply chain synchronisation from Lexus, the seats never even touched the floor, let alone go through any inwards goods processing or warehousing.