Philippine Daily Inquirer
For TMP, ‘planting CARS’ is very fun
TOYOTA’S PH PLANT IS GREEN, HIGH-TECH, AND FURTHER BOOSTS LOCAL AUTO INDUSTRY
EIGHT years ago, local motoring scribes were toured around the 82hectare Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) plant in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna. We thought then that we already left the plant grounds when we entered a forested area, only to be told that the ground we stood on--all 11.4 hectares of it--was an ecoforest developed and maintained by TMP. Within that ecoforest was a world-class wastewater treatment plant with a capacity to treat 35 cubic meters of industrial and sanitary wastewater per hour.
The size and scale of this eco-forest was unprecedented. There was even a bonus--this Toyota plant was the first from an auto company operating in the Philippines to harness solar power in its operations. TMP’S solar panels supplied electricity to the activity center’s lights.
It was also about eight years ago when TMP acquired Soc-free vehicles (Soc-free meaning “free from substance of environmental concerns”). The vehicles considered Soc-free were free from lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, and cadmium. At the time, the plant was also in the middle of efforts to reduce VOCS (volatile organic compounds) from its vehicles. Paints and thinners are the primary sources of VOCS. Towards this end, robots had been used in the painting process to minimize VOC emissions.
Eight years later, TMP’S robots from 2011 have been retired, replaced by new ones that, shall we say, “are more skillful and precise” at what they were programmed to do, and then some. The new robots are doing more. Aside from reducing VOCS from paints on the main vehicle bodies, these robots also reduce VOCS from bumper paints.
Meanwhile, the auto manufacturing plant itself still uses the thinner recycling machine, and the so-called “bulb eater” to dispose of the busted fluorescent lamps of its dealers. The TMP plant itself uses mainly energy-saving LED lamps.
The wastewater treatment facility has been upgraded in capacity to 55 cubic meters/hour, and then new technology has been applied, one of which is called the “membrane bio reactor” or MBR. According to Toyota environment engineer Mark Marcelo in an interview on Oct. 22, the upgraded facility results in better quality of discharge and less space needed. The plant itself has also further reduced its Socs from just 4 to 10 reductions.
Last Oct. 14, TMP presented to local media its high-tech facilities completed under the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence
Strategy (CARS) Program. The company’s P5.38-billion investment in the CARS project enhanced not only the company’s local production capabilities, but ultimately added value to revitalize vehicle and parts manufacturing in the country.
The goal of the auto giant towards what it calls a “smart” and “green” manufacturing facility has come closer to full realization. For TMP alone, CARS investments include the local parts production of the Toyota Vios at the Resin Injection Molding Facility for bumpers and instrument panels, Roller-hemming Robots at the welding line, and the newly inaugurated A0 Press Line for stamping of side member panels.
Robots for repetitive tasks, manpower for new skills
Through these investments, TMP has gone along much further in its journey to “smart manufacturing,” integrating high-tech equipment in the Toyota production system. Such facilities use robots to automate repetitive tasks, making
production processes more efficient. To handle new production technologies, TMP also made substantial investments in manpower training for the acquisition of new skills.
Aside from acquiring new production technologies, TMP continuously supports its local suppliers in developing technical know-how, upgrading their manpower skills, and in addressing technical gaps through Technical Assistance Agreements (TAA) with Toyota’s network of suppliers in the Asia Pacific region. Among the Carsenrolled
suppliers engaged in TAAS include Valerie Products Manufacturing (with Ogihara Thailand Co. Ltd.) and Manly Plastics (with Toyoda Gosei Thailand Co. Ltd).
Through strong collaboration, TMP and its suppliers have been able to produce the Toyota Vios with more local content, specifically for big body shell and large plastic parts that have a complex nature of production. Currently, the local content ratio is at 58 percent.
TMP president Satoru Suzuki, during his Oct. 14 welcome message, said, “We at Toyota have always believed that the auto manufacturing industry’s growth is a catalyst for national development. As such, we have continued the local production of our best-selling models over the years, thereby providing employment and sustaining many small- and medium-scale enterprises that are the backbone of our economy.”
In preparing for a more sustainable future, Toyota has started equipping its manufacturing operations with greener technologies. TMP’S investment in the 1-MW solar array enables the supply of about 4 percent of the manufacturing plant’s annual energy requirements, reducing 790 tons in CO2 emissions. Likewise, several karakuri (mechanized) projects in the production line have been started to further reduce electricity consumption, such as the use of mechanical equipment which optimize a gravity-balance system. These initiatives are well
aligned with the objectives of the Toyota Environmental Challenge (TEC) 2050 – to lessen carbon footprint in every stage of business operations and add more value to society.
The demand for locally produced vehicles has enabled Toyota to expand its production operations in the country, hence contributing more to the Philippine economy in terms of investments, taxes, employment, and technology transfer.
“We take it as an honor and privilege that Toyota’s business activities in the country have given us the opportunity to contribute, not only to our team members, but also to the development of our supply chain and our dealer network. These activities have also given us the means to implement the many corporate social responsibility projects that we have pursued directly and through the TMP Foundation,” Suzuki remarked.
In its over 30-year history, TMP has grown to be the largest auto manufacturer and distributor in the country with the widest product line-up of 21 models and 71 dealer outlets nationwide to date. Employment in TMP’S value chain has reached over 55,000 employees, encompassing white- and bluecollar jobs.
Having a high multiplier effect, the auto industry’s growth in the country has paved the way in expanding auto parts manufacturing, bringing in more investments and new technological skills and knowhow. Currently, the industry employs direct and indirect manpower of over 500,000.