Obsession builds perfection at Lexus

That "Relentless Pursuit of Perfection" thing isn't just a slogan at Lexus apparently. According to this Automotive News piece, Lexus really means it. Nowhere is it more evident than at the plant where Toyota builds its flagship Lexus LS600h L. Seeing themselves in an arms race of perfection, Lexus has taken perfection to an obsession. The workers are trained and retrained and re-retrained to focus on perfection. And we're not talking about the way a Formula 1 team might rehearse pitstops. We are talking about stuff like building finger strength with special plastic webbing trainers, arranging lip-gloss containers "to develop an eye for tints and color," developing a feel for five instead of six bolts in the hand, learning the sound of a properly torqued bolt. Amazing.

Workers have to go through extensive training, including lectures and computer simulations, in addition to the physical dexterity training. And that training gets tougher and tougher to identify different skill levels. Only 300 current workers at the plant have the highest Level 1 certification. But that doesn't guarantee anything. Every four months the workers have to go through the skills tests all over again. And no matter how good the worker's skills are, there's still that old saying about cleanliness being next to godliness to contend with. Follow the jump to hear more about the whole perfection equation at Lexus.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req.]

Signs are posted to remind workers how to dress. Hairnets might make sense in the paintshop, but Lexus even requires them in the engine-assembly plant. Air showers are even used at the engine plant, just like in a semiconductor facility. Although they don't require booties, they do want clean shoes too. Suppliers are even given guidelines that limit dirt and debris from their deliveries. That might seem like overkill in some ways, but the attention pays off apparently.

Besides the focus on workers' cleanliness and training, the finished product is also scrutinized like no other. Lexus tests every single car. When they determined that the previous generation LS deviated up to 50 cm over a 100 m path, they went to work and identified areas of unnecessary variables and streamlined the design. The new one cut that variance in half, and every single LS600 hL that leaves the line is given a white glove road test at 56 mph to see that it meets the new standard. The test driver also checks the other mechanicals and build integrity during a full shakedown run.

Lexus also employs twice as money inspectors as the typical Toyota plant, which is already among the industry leaders. The combination of the best trained workers working in a clean environment, the end product being inspected by skilled human inspectors using the latest in computerized analysis guarantees that these top-of-the-line Lexi are truly world-class. At $100,000, we expect owners of the LS will appreciate this kind of attention to perfection, even if they don't know what is happening behind the scenes along the assembly line.

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