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Toyota to use innovative AI technology to boost factory efficiency

Kaizen, or continuous improvement, efforts are at the core of the Toyota Production System. All over the world, Toyota team members and managers search for every small improvement they can identify to eliminate a wasteful motion or a process that might be detrimental to operations.

But Stephen Brennan, Toyota’s group vice president of vehicle production engineering and the Manufacturing Project Innovation Center, told Automotive News that, historically, identifying kaizens has been done through observation. The Invisible AI devices will now “help us increase the frequency and accuracy of process reviews as well as reduce the time needed to find inefficiencies across processes, giving us more time to focus on improvement.”

The Princeton plant, where the Toyota Highlander and Sienna are assembled, is undergoing an $803 million renovation to enable production of the new larger Toyota Grand Highlander and Lexus TX three-row crossovers beginning next year.

About 500 of the Invisible AI boxes initially will be installed in half of the plant, then installation will expand to the other half later, Eric Danziger, co-founder and CEO of Invisible AI, told Automotive News last week.

“All the methods [companies] use right now to measure productivity, to measure throughput, to find bottlenecks — those are things that someone comes on the line and just does five examples or maybe 20. But they’re not doing 6,000 because they don’t have the ability to do that level of time statistics,” Danziger explained. “They don’t have the ability to see across shifts, across operators, across all these different dimensions.”

But the Invisible AI devices can “give them weeks and weeks and weeks of data that they can analyze to find those bottlenecks and make sure that they’re making those productivity improvements,” he said. 

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