TMUK’s 25 Objects – 10: Roll of Steel

Many of your Toyota’s structural and body panels begin as a flat sheet of steel. The metal varies in thickness, width, strength and weight, according to how and where it will be used.

The steel is delivered to TMUK’s Burnaston factory in Derbyshire in huge rolled coils which weigh up to 20 tonnes. Before it can be used, the steel is subjected to an intense, 16-point inspection process. This takes place in the raw materials laboratory and is used to confirm the metal’s quality. It’s particularly important to verify the steel’s strength, flexibility and mechanical properties.

From here, the metal moves to the press shop where it is cut into sections and fed into one of 40 different machines used to stamp, shape and mould it into one of the parts required for each vehicle.

 

The numbers are staggering. Last year Toyota used 7,109900.9 metres of steel to build 180,425 vehicles (and a number of service / heritage parts).

That’s 48,000 panels per day, formed into 195 different parts from 113 dies.

Burnaston’s presses, named ATR1, 2 and 3, are the largest machines in the factory, each as big as a house. They work by pressing the steel between forming tools to an incredible 3,500-tonne pressure, equivalent to loading the weight of 500 London double-decker buses on to an area no larger than a postage stamp. Under this intense pressure, even the smallest dust particles can impact on the quality of the final panels, so each panel produced is checked over and signed off.

Burnaston’s steel, and therefore its presses, aren’t just used to make new Auris and Avensis models. TMUK maintains the dies for all of the models it has made in the past so that it can produce new body panels for owners of older Toyotas.

In a single shift, Burnaston can use up to 4600 metres of steel, transforming it into as many as 750 Toyotas – that’s one every 66 seconds. In the course of a year TMUK Burnaston uses enough metal to circumnavigate the Earth.

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To discover more about TMUK at 25, see 25 Objects: Celebrating Toyota Manufacturing UK’s 25th anniversary

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