Toyota Racing Development Puts Inefficient Storage in Rear View Thanks to Lista International

Toyota Racing Development Puts Inefficient Storage in Rear View Thanks to Lista International

A finely tuned engine is what the people at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) strive for. It's also how they'd like their entire operation to run - smoothly and efficiently with maximum performance and no wasted energy or time. Today, TRD is operating on all cylinders, but this was not always the case - particularly in regards to their workspace and storage equipment.

A finely tuned engine is what the people at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) strive for. It’s also how they’d like their entire operation to run – smoothly and efficiently with maximum performance and no wasted energy or time. Today, TRD is operating on all cylinders, but this was not always the case – particularly in regards to their workspace and storage equipment.

A subsidiary of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U. S. A., Inc., TRD designs and builds Toyota racing engines, in addition to building and marketing performance aftermarket parts for many Toyota vehicles. Since 1995, the company has grown from fewer than 50 associates to the more than 250 who work there today. TRD’s Indy Racing League (IRL) engine division and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is housed in a 47,000-square-foot Costa Mesa, CA, facility, with four engine dynamometers, an engine assembly workshop, an engine design studio, and several specialized workshops including one devoted to electronics and electrical wire harness assembly. Within this facility, highly skilled TRD engineers and technicians design, assemble and develop Toyota’s and NASCAR Craftsman Truck engines.

Because of their continued growth, TRD reached a point in 1999 where they were running out of room in most of their departments, as well as running out of patience with disorganized storage.

“It was a mess,” said David Pyle, senior manager of TRD’s Engine Build Group. “Each guy had his own toolbox from home, so there was no uniformity – sizes varied from small desktop boxes to boxes the size of a small truck. Also, we used small bolted-together workbenches that were not that sturdy. Overall, when you look at throughput, space management, and aesthetics, we were lacking.”

Steve Wickham, TRD’s Senior Manager Electronics and Product Engineering agrees. “We had a mix of storage components from various catalogues. Nothing was particularly integrated. We just had open benches…storage was wherever it fell. It was both a visual issue and an efficiency issue. Fortunately, thanks to our decision to go with a range of Lista products, things have changed dramatically.”

Toyota-powered engines. Lista-powered storage.
Wickham and Pyle looked at a number of suppliers of industrial storage and workspace equipment for each of their departments, and Lista International stood out in terms of both quality and racing industry experience. Lista International Corporation of Holliston, MA, is a leading manufacturer of modular workstations and storage solutions.

Lista International has been a primary supplier to the racing industry for decades, and Pyle and Wickham were both very familiar with the company’s reputation for quality. In fact, Wickham had actually worked with Lista products in Europe in Formula One racing. And Pyle toured a number of his associate’s facilities and saw first-hand how they were using their Lista equipment.

“I liked what I saw, and also what I heard in terms of Lista’s service,” Pyle recalled.

The one application that really sold Pyle was one with which he had direct involvement. “I used to work for a motor bike race team,” he said. “We had a 40-foot trailer that was completely outfitted with Lista equipment. We’d travel upwards of 100,000 miles a year, over the road to dirt bike racing sites. There was a lot of vibration and a lot of heavy-duty use, but the Lista equipment more than held its own.”

TRD outfitted its entire facility with a wide array of product from Lista – stationary, mobile, stacked – some set up as storage, some as permanent workstations, others used as tool transporter carts and all holding a tremendous range of engine parts, and tools and equipment. In Pyle’s engine assembly workshop, 45 engine technicians each use a workstation that features two Lista cabinets with different drawer combinations, and butcher block worksurfaces.

“Typically, each technician will have tools in one cabinet, and spare parts in the other,” explained Pyle. “We also have mobile tool transporters in this department for rolling out precision measurement tools like air gages directly to the application. Plus we have stationary cabinets that hold some of the equipment we use less frequently, like pressure testing equipment and the large dummy heads we use to replicate cylinder heads.”

No matter what is being stored in the cabinets, TRD is seeing a dramatic improvement in space efficiency. All of TRD’s Lista cabinets have the ability to hold an amazing volume of tools and parts. Lista’s cabinets maximize organization, and their customizable drawers contribute to fast item retrieval. These cabinet drawers, which feature 440-lb. load capacity, are available in seven different sidewall heights for full cubic storage capacity. Also, each drawer can be subdivided with a wide variety of drawer accessories to create organized, customized compartments.

“We really weigh down the drawers with a lot of heavy tooling and hand tools,” said Pyle. “We appreciate the quality of the cabinets, because some of our technicians tend to abuse them and bring them to full capacity. Also, the drawer helps us in terms of space management. We have a relatively small shop. We’re able to keep our tooling easily accessible in tight quarters because of the strength of the drawers.”

Harnesses the efficiency.
In Steve Wickham’s electronics department, technicians assemble wire harnesses and electronic circuit board assemblies. This department also reaps many space management benefits from Lista’s cabinets and workbenches.

“We have five double-sided workstations with a workspace for a technician on either side and boards for pinning drawings in the middle,” Wickham explained. “We’ve customized the cabinets below the worksurface with appropriately sized Lista drawers and, inside the drawers, we’ve created custom compartments using dividers and foam inserts. We not only have enough space for all of our small parts and hand tools, but everything is stored in the most logical, time-saving manner.”

An essential roll.
Lista mobility plays an essential role in keeping work flowing and moving at TRD. Take TRD’s “dyno” cells as a prime example. After engines are reassembled in TRD’s engine assembly workshop, they are brought over to one of the facility’s dynamometer or “dyno” test cells where engine performance is given a thorough examination. Each dyno cell is home to a mobile dyno cart, an eight-foot long cart with a stainless steel top that features a Lista cabinet on each side and a separate mobile cabinet underneath a central butcher-block worksurface.

“Mobility is important for a number of reasons in the dyno cells,” said Pyle. “Primarily, if there’s a failure during development and testing and oil spills on the floor, we can quickly move the mobile units out and mop up. Also, we use Lista’s mobile transport carts here somewhat like a crash cart in a hospital. You want to be able to have the tools close at hand if you’re working on the dyno after it’s running, just like a doctor want his tools close to the patient.”

A perfect dancing partner.
The same benefits hold true in TRD’s test rooms and teardown facility where mobile cabinets provide essential flexibility. The teardown facility, where engines are disassembled, is an area that has undergone a good deal of reorganization as workloads have increased and work force has been added. Changes in the facility layout would be a lot more challenging without mobile storage and workspace solutions.

“To maximize efficiency,” Pyle explains, “we create what we call a dance chart, meaning we lay out exactly how an engine is going to be disassembled and rebuilt. It’s a step by step process, and the mobility allows us to move workstations around and save steps.”

Uniformly excellent.
Working primarily with Lista systems has stabilized things at TRD, in more ways than one. First off, there’s the stability that comes with working with top-quality, rugged steel equipment.

Pyle raved about the sturdiness, saying, “These things are so stable, it’s amazing.”

Wickham agreed: “The Lista product is a robust product that has a solid feel to it, especially if you’re using it every day. It’s extremely well engineered.”

Then there’s the stability that comes from uniformity from product to product and department to department.

“Right now we have a uniformity that gives us the ability to lay out the shop in a meaningful fashion,” Pyle said. “So we have a lot better space management, everything looks more organized, and our entire process makes logical sense.”

Looks that thrill.
In the auto racing industry, aesthetics are extremely important, and not just in the sleek lines of the vehicles. At the TRD facility, the uniformly handsome, shining black Lista storage and workspace systems help to create a showcase for Toyota that boosts employee morale and corporate image.

Said Pyle, “We bring potential car owners and/or teams through our facilities to show them what we do, and we’re confident that everything always looks professional, clean and tidy. Our whole shop is black and gray, so the black Lista systems fit right in. Today, some of the Lista products are four years old and still look great! Our visitors are always impressed.”

A lasting impression
Everyone at TRD was not only impressed by the quality of the Lista products, but also by the quality of the Lista service.

“Lista’s sales team spent a considerable amount of time helping to lay out our shop,” recalled Pyle. “They not only gave us a great deal of design input, they actually physically helped us lay out the equipment. Their suggestions definitely helped us save money, because they said, ‘Look, if we utilize this piece of equipment, you can get more volume of tools in the drawer.’ Their design assistance, which was free of charge, was invaluable.”

Overall, it’s clear that the Lista storage solution has had a tremendously positive impact at TRD.

“We understand that it’s a premium product,” said Wickham. “We’re in the premium product business ourselves, so it’s a natural match.”

“We’ve pretty much have everything we need right now in terms of workspace and storage equipment,” concluded Pyle. “But, should we ever need to purchase additional equipment, we’re sticking with Lista.”

For additional information on products offered by Lista International, visit

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