Toyota Tundra: Assembly Facts

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Some interesting facts about the new Tundra and how it’s built:

To begin with, the Tundra’s style was formally approved in the US, making it the first vehicle that Toyota has ever stylistically approved outside of Japan. Toyota is clearly committed to building an American truck.

Additionally, the new Tundra is almost completely new. There are virtually no carryover parts from the 1st generation Tundra or from the Tacoma.

Most automakers build vehicles in batches — a group of crew cabs are assembled, then a group of two-wheel-drives, etc. This is done to make sure that the correct parts are installed on each vehicle. By building in batches, workers will only have access to the correct part for that type of vehicle i.e. only 2wd shocks available for a batch of 2wds, only tan interior parts for a batch of tan interiors, etc. and won’t be able to put the wrong part on a vehicle. Amazingly, the Tundra IS NOT built in batches — each vehicle is built to order. Toyota gains a lot of efficiency by building each truck to order (batch building is inherently uneven volumes) but the risk of putting the wrong part on a vehicle is much higher.

In order to eliminate the possibility of a worker putting the wrong part on a new Tundra, many parts are pre-sorted and organized by type and then put in a box (basically a shoe box) and sent along with the truck as it travels down the assembly line. Thus, when the truck arrives at a station, the worker pulls the parts they need out of a box, installs them, and then the truck moves to the next station.

Toyota also uses a very aggressive just-in-time inventory system to reduce waste and increase efficiency. For instance, when a new Tundra begins the assembly process, the seats are ordered from the supplier. Within 85 minutes of being ordered, the seats are assembled and delivered to the proper station on the assembly line. Considering the seats can contain upwards of 300 different components (depending upon configuration) this is quite a feat.

Welding and painting the new truck is almost entirely automated — about 400 robots perform 90% of the painting and welding tasks.

Finally, the Tundra is built upside down! The wiring, suspension, and many other frame connected components are assembled while the truck frame is upside down. When it’s time to attach the body, the truck is flipped over.

See 2007 Toyota Tundra: BIG for more information about the just-in-time system used for Tundra assembly and to learn more about the San Antonio campus.

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