Dana's lean assembly produces extended Tundra frame

Dana Corporation's Owensboro, Ky., facility has implemented a lean assembly process to manufacture an extended frame for the all-new Toyota Tundra Double Cab pickup. Toyota selected Dana to supply a frame that is more than a foot longer than standard frames for the longest and widest version of the Toyota Tundra.The pickup truck, available this fall, is more than 230 inches long from front-to-back. The extra length of the frame was achieved by designing the regular tooling to accept the additional length of the new side rails. The assembly process incorporated automatic changeovers to continue the lot-size-of-one capability. The design also incorporates additional reinforcements for strength and performance. Dana people worked on one part of the frame at a time beginning with the rear stub, where the frame required the most significant changes. "In a little over a year's time and without disrupting current production, we were able to reconfigure our manufacturing process to accommodate a frame that is more than 5 percent longer than the current version," said Bill Carroll, president of Dana's Automotive Systems Group. "This is truly a great success story for our customer and Dana alike, and showcases our manufacturing flexibility." When faced with the challenge of producing the extended truck frame efficiently and within a tight deadline, Dana integrated improved manufacturing processes within current production space. Working closely with Toyota, Dana engineers implemented 14 new assembly cells piece by piece, resulting in a seamless transition at the start of production.In addition, the Tundra program team incorporated new automated processes that accomplish more tasks in less space. One example is a new automated welding cell that simultaneously welds three frames in the space previously required to weld just one. It takes just over one minute for the team members at Dana to produce a complete frame. Continuing the Owensboro plant's drive for flexibility, production rates can be reduced or increased to continue just-in-time sequential delivery under varying market demands. Dana's Owensboro plant manufactures frames for all Tundra pickups and Sequoia sport-utility vehicles and employs approximately 330 people. Dana has been producing frames for Toyota for more than 10 years.

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