The Kodak person would not have talked about threading length or coating speeds among other things so he need not lie or even dissemble to your friend. He may just have omitted information that was not relevant to the tour.
If a hypothentical machine coats 1 kilometer of film, and if the threading length is 1 Km and the coating speed is 100 m/min, then the machine coats 1 Km in 10 minutes, right? You must have 1 km of leader in the machine to thread it and 1 km of leader on a roll to rethread the machine after you make your run. So you use 3 Km of film for this 10 minute run. Two Km are reusable as leader, but must be considered in your inventory as used.
In another room are dozens of people who have prepped the melts and monitor them during coating. There are about 20 or so for a color product. Behind them are the dozens who made the melts and emulsions and delivered them to the coating room.
Once done, what do they do? Go home or go to the next product. Kodak was once on a 24/7/365 work schedule, but then reduced to 24/5/365 and then to 8/5/200 etc...... You see the decline? I doubt if ANY of this was discussed in that tour or if it was, I doubt if anyone really understood the significance.
My brother in law was in QC at agfa/ansco/gaf for decades, they had small output compared to Kodak..nobody understands the immense ouptput capabilities...