Among the growing number of automakers repurposing their operations to support care and recovery efforts from the Covid-19 coronavirus is Toyota, which has outlined in a statement a number of its initiatives that it will be putting into place through its operations.

This is in line with president Akio Toyoda’s policy for the company to be “mindful of the feelings of those in the midst of this pandemic, reach conclusions more swiftly, make prompt decisions, and take immediate action faster than ever focusing on safety and security as the highest priorities,” the automaker said in a statement.

The Japanese giant is considering support measures from various angles, which include utilising its global supply chain and expertise in manufacturing and logistics for the fight against the virus, it said. Among these are the production of medical face shields, which Toyota will produce at its Teiho plant in Japan from injection-molding and 3D printing methods, at an anticipated initial rate of 500 to 600 units a week.

Toyota plant in Teiho, Japan

Toyota is also evaluating the possibility of other companies joining in the production efforts for the protective equipment. Additionally and in response to a request from the Japanese government to Japanese automakers through the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) which called for an increase in production of medical equipment, including ventilators, Toyota is also working with medical equipment makers for the application of the Toyota Production System (TPS) where possible to help improve productivity.

To that end, Toyota is creating a TPS support team which centres around the Toyota Motor Corporation, and will immediately dispatch the team to companies struggling to sufficiently increase production of required medical equipment. The Japanese automaker is already coordinating with relevant parties, including equipment manufacturers for specific measures, said Toyota.

Procurement efforts are being set in motion, where Toyota is leveraging the reach of its supply chain for essential items such as face masks, personal protective equipment, thermometers and other required items.

Automotive supplier Denso will also be producing face masks beginning this month.

Denso will produce its own face masks at its production sites for its own employees’ consumption, with production scheduled to commence this month at a rate of 100,000 masks a day. Meanwhile, the Kariya plant of Toyota Boshoku has also been scheduled to start producing face masks this month at a rate of 1,500 units a day, with measures in place to gradually increase production.

Plans are also afoot to gradually move production to the Sanage plant from May, where production will eventually reach 12,000 face masks a day, said Toyota. Additionally, Aisin Seiki, Daihatsu and Hino are also considering production of face masks at the respective brands’ production sites.

The manufacture of further equipment that can be utilised by medical institutions such as makeshift beds, disinfectant containers and simple partition walls is being considered by Aisin Seiki, while Denso is already taking part in a project to research drug development and infection control; this project is run by Canadian company D-Wave, where access to a quantum computer is provided free of charge.

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