Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia Inc. is one of West Virginia’s great success stories, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) is proud to have played a part in its growth.
The international company started construction on its Buffalo, Putnam County, operations in 1996. Opening in 1998 with 300 employees, Toyota has expanded its West Virginia operations several times since and is in the midst of yet another growth phase.
Recently Toyota announced an increase of its annual production capacity of 6-speed automatic transmissions from approximately 400,000 to 520,000 at the Buffalo plant. The expansion is scheduled to be completed by July 2013.
During this phase Toyota will invest approximately $45 million and create about 80 new jobs in West Virginia. The expansion raises total employment to approximately 1,200 and the total plant investment to $1.3 billion.
The plant initially opened to make 4-cylinder engines, and now produces 6-speed transmissions for the Avalon, Camry, Lexus RX350, Sienna and Venza models. It also builds and assembles machine components for the automaker’s 4-cylinder and V-6 engines.
As Toyota’s Putnam County operation has grown and taken on an even more significant role in West Virginia, RCBI has assisted at several points along that path.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia is using several of RCBI’s advanced manufacturing services in its operations. Among them, Toyota has used reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, Additive Manufacturing with 3D printing and waterjet cutting operations. The company has also taken advantage of RCBI Workforce Development services, including prospective employee skills-assessments and courses in Blueprint Reading, Industrial Electricity, Industrial Hydraulics, Basic AutoCAD, Intermediate AutoCAD and Advanced AutoCAD.
According to David Slater, production engineer for Toyota, most of the individuals in the Engineering Group have used RCBI to Rapid Prototype test parts for machines and fixtures.
“RCBI has been extremely responsive and helpful in 3D development of fixtures for automation projects on several occasions,” Slater said. Toyota’s Buffalo plant is located between RCBI’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centers in Huntington and Charleston, providing quick and easy access to state-of-the-art equipment and processes.
“We are able to quickly test machine and fixture designs by using 3D printing,” he said. “RCBI is always quick to help Toyota. RCBI’s Chris Figgatt has been instrumental to us. He worked in our maintenance group as a college co-op, so he understands our challenges.”
A successful operation such as Toyota not only knows its business and performs outstanding work on its own, its management team knows where to find great partners – including the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, Inc.
1 Sugar Maple Lane
P.O. Box 600
Buffalo, WV 25033