Isuzu Motors South Africa has consolidated its truck and bakkie manufacturing plants – relocating its truck production facilities from Kempston Road, in Port Elizabeth, to its new headquarters in Struandale, Port Elizabeth, where all truck and bakkie manufacturing will now take place.
The consolidation was completed in December, with commissioning and the first pilot truck put down on the line on December 12, 2018.
The plant reached normalised production as of January 22.
However, the company officially commemorated the consolidation at a launch and ribbon cutting ceremony at the plant on Thursday.
The execution of the consolidation project took ten months to complete and comprised two phases. Phase 1 was the preparation of the new site and took eight months to complete.
Phase 2 was the relocation, commissioning and start-up, which took only seven weeks. This phase, which took place during the December shutdown period, also included in-depth training for the truck manufacturing team.
The consolidation project cost R27-million to complete.
Isuzu SA CEO and MD Michael Sacke enthused that the consolidation was the second largest milestone for the company, following that of February 2018, when Isuzu’s truck and bakkie business was officially merged, and Isuzu Motors South Africa was established.
Isuzu Motors South Africa is a wholly owned subsidiary of Isuzu Motors Limited of Japan.
Isuzu SA manufacturing and supply chain executive Johan Vermeulen highlighted that this consolidation engenders a number of benefits for the company.
This includes space and cost savings from a more compact footprint and the opportunity to correct historical layout inefficiencies.
Reduction in under roof space use is 50%; and reduction of overall space use is 22%.
Sacke noted that the company had to integrate two different working cultures for the consolidation.
However, Vermeulen enthused that following the consolidation, having the entire “family” under one roof would drive a one team culture within the organisation.
Moreover, the consolidation enables better support for the company’s human capital and allows it to efficiently apply its lean manufacturing system.
Lastly, manufacturing support resources can now be better applied between the truck and bakkie operations.
Sacke indicated that the past year had been marked by a number of other achievements.
He emphasised the importance to the company of its people, which manifested in the company retaining 1 000 direct jobs through its investment in the country, as well as a number of indirect jobs.
The company also successfully transitioned to new information technology systems and moved its engineering equipment from Kempston Road to the Vehicle Conversion and Distribution Centre in Markman Township in Port Elizabeth.
The truck plant, which was also based at the old Kempston Road facility, is now combined with D-MAX production at the Struandale assembly plant.
Further, Isuzu’s dealer network also went through major changes in line with its dedicated focus on providing the right solutions to light commercial vehicle (LCV), sports-utility vehicle (SUV) and commercial vehicle customers.
Moreover, the company’s dealer network underwent major changes, in keeping with the company’s focus on providing correct solutions to LCV, SUV and commercial vehicle customers.
The company expanded its product portfolio in 2018, with the addition of the new SUV competitor, the Isuzu MU-X. The 40-year-old KB bakkie’s name was changed to D-MAX, aligning to the global naming convention.
Sacke extolled that Isuzu SA had, for the first time, become the highest volume selling truck brand in the country.
The company’s commercial vehicle market share was 14.1% in 2018.
The company’s sub-Saharan Africa sales increased by 17% year-on-year.
“As our first year of Isuzu Motors South Africa, we have had a satisfying year,” said Sacke.