JOHANNESBURG - Isuzu Motors South Africa (IMSAf) has created a more efficient manufacturing footprint in South Africa through the consolidation of its truck and bakkie manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth at a cost of R27million.

The consolidated plant was officially opened yesterday and involved the relocation of Isuzu’s truck production facilities from Kempston Road in Port Elizabeth to IMSAf’s headquarters in Struandale, also in Port Elizabeth.

Michael Sacke, the chief executive and managing director of IMSAf, said they started with regular production of their market leading trucks at their new home in Struandale on January 19, with the last truck rolling off the Kempston Road production line on November 30 following 21 years of truck production from that facility.

Sacke said there were many advantages to having both Isuzu production facilities under one roof, including a common team culture and the optimisation of shares resources.

“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,” he said.

Sacke said IMSAf’s only remaining facilities left at Kempston Road were an electrocoat plant and chassis welding facility.

The site was sold several years ago and IMSAf rents space in the facility.

Sacke said he would love to have all IMSAf’s facilities under one roof, but it would be too costly to move these remaining facilities from Kempston Road.

Johan Vermeulen, the manu- facturing and supply chain executive, said the relocation, commissioning and start-up of the truck facility after it was relocated took only seven weeks.

Vermeulen said materials at Struandale were now stored closer to the truck line, which reduced travel distances substantially, improving efficiency and eliminating 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,” he said.

Vermeulen said they also came up with some innovative solutions for material storage.

He added that there was a 50percent improvement in space utilisation with the truck and bakkie plant now under one roof at Struandale and a 22percent improvement in the overall space required.

Vermeulen said the Struandale facility had a total annual capacity of 70000 vehicles a year on three shifts, but it currently only operated on a single shift.

Sacke said Isuzu last year became the highest volume selling truck brand in South Africa, including all three segments of the commercial vehicle market.

He added that Isuzu has occupied the top position in the medium and heavy duty commercial vehicle segment of the South African market for six consecutive years.

Sacke said Isuzu achieved total sales of 24000 units last year, which comprised 20000 bakkies and 4000 trucks, to achieve a commercial vehicle market share of 14.1percent.

- BUSINESS REPORT