Isuzu now under one roof
Creating a more efficient footprint, Isuzu Motors SA launched a consolidated truck and bakkie manufacturing plant on Thursday with the two operations now under one roof.
The R27m project of relocating the Isuzu truck production facilities from Kempston Road to Isuzu Motors SA’s headquarters in Struandale, ensures all bakkie and truck manufacturing now takes place under one roof in Port Elizabeth.
The relocation follows the merging of Isuzu’s truck and bakkie business in February 2018 with the establishment of one company, Isuzu Motors SA.
The truck facility alone covers 10,000m² while the combined truck and bakkie plant covers 70,000m² and is expected to have a production capacity of about 5,000 trucks and 70,000 bakkies a year.
Isuzu Motors SA CEO and managing director Michael Sacke said the company was keen to play its part in the economic development, growth and transformation of SA along with its customers, dealer network and partners.
“As a company we experienced a wave of positive change throughout the organisation both operationally, strategically and in the market place,” he said.
“Isuzu secured the commercial vehicle market share of 14.1% in 2018, while Isuzu D-MAX sales volumes were up over 8.7% compared to the previous year – achieving a market share of 14.4%.
“Overall, we are very pleased with these sales figures in the first year of operations.”
Manufacturing and supply chain executive Johan Vermeulen said the move would enable Isuzu to correct prior layout inefficiencies, support and drive a unified organisational culture and allow for better support for human capital.
“Another benefit to the relocation is that we will ensure a more compact footprint.
“Manufacturing support resources can also now be better applied between the two operations,” Vermeulen said.
Following approval, Vermeulen said the move took 10 months to complete – site preparation alone took around eight months.
“Materials are now stored closer to the truck line, which reduces travel distances substantially,” he said.
“This improves efficiency and eliminates waste and unnecessary cost.
“We also used the opportunity to work together with our source plant to change the way that material is packed, providing us with easier access to the correct material at the correct time.”
Compared to the Kempston Road location, a 50% improvement in space utilisation under one roof was achieved, and a 22% improvement in the overall amount of space required.
After 21 years of production at the Kempston Road site, the last truck was built at the site on November 30 2018.
Isuzu’s investment in SA secured 1,000 direct jobs and preserved around 4,000 jobs through its network of 80 dealers around the country, and 35 dealers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
A walk through the new plant shows co-ordinated collaboration between manual labour and robotics on the various assembly lines.
Specialised welding technology and labour expertise have seen the facility reach its quality and efficiency target of 98% of the manufactured vehicles being loaded and dispatched.
Sacke said: “Continuing to provide outstanding after sales and customer support, we are planning another robust year in 2019.
“The year started with the consolidation of Isuzu Motors SA’s truck and bakkie plant.
“This is a key milestone for the company in Struandale.”