PORT ELIZABETH – Creating a more efficient footprint, Isuzu Motors South Africa today officially launched its consolidated truck and bakkie manufacturing plant.
The R27-million project of relocating the Isuzu truck production facilities from Kempston Road in Port Elizabeth to Isuzu Motors South Africa’s headquarters in Struandale, Port Elizabeth, ensures all bakkie and truck manufacturing now takes place under one roof. The relocation follows the official merging of Isuzu’s truck and bakkie business in February last year with the establishment of one company, Isuzu Motors South Africa.
Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Michael Sacke, said having both Isuzu production facilities under one roof has many advantages – including driving a common team culture and the optimisation of shared resources.
After 21 years of truck production at Kempston Road, it was the end of an era when the last truck rolled off the production line on 30 November 2018.
“We started with regular production of our market-leading trucks at their new home in Struandale in January 2019. These changes have resulted in greater efficiencies in terms of our manufacturing support resources and an opportunity to improve the application of our lean manufacturing system,” said Sacke.
It took many months to study, plan and execute the truck plant move and offered the ideal opportunity to correct historical layout inefficiencies, said the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Executive, Johan Vermeulen.
“Materials are now stored closer to the truck line which reduces travel distances substantially. 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. We also came up with some innovative solutions with regards to material storage,” said Vermeulen.
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.
Managed by Isuzu Motors South Africa’s internal team using local contractors, site preparation took around eight months (Phase 1) followed by the relocation, commissioning and start-up of the truck facility in just seven weeks (Phase 2). Phase 2 took place during the shutdown period, which also included in-depth training for the truck manufacturing team.
By positively promoting a single company culture, the new modern site will allow for shared production learning. “By uniting the two manufacturing facilities, the end result will be even better, that is, quality products and services to both our truck and bakkie customers,” Vermeulen concluded.