"The process of integration started with the export of Corollas to Australia in 2003," says Gerry Motley, Toyota South Africa?s Senior Vice President Manufacturing and Assembly.
"By that time Toyota's IMV (Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle) project was already a reality for us as South Africa had been named as one of just four major source plants for the global production of this exciting vehicle.
This vehicle is part of TMC's latest global marketing strategy.
"As a source plant for the IMV, of which the Hilux is the volume product, we have had to quickly gear up for production volumes on one platform that will, within 12 months, equate to 90% of our 2004 total vehicle production.
"Initial production targets were set at 60 000 units per annum with half of those for export. This however changed with the first release of the Hilux in Thailand in August 2004 with demand far outstripping supply.
"That situation resulted in an increase in South African volume capabilities to 120 000 units a year within 18 months of the start up of production as we were putting our new production facilities for the lower volume in place.
"TMC has recognised Toyota South Africa as a dependable supplier of quality vehicles and we have to strive to continue the process of continuous improvement that is a production philosophy within TMC.
"With the IMV we have a target of zero defect for vehicles flowing into the market place from Job1. We have always taken pride in our high quality standards but now we can truly say that we are achieving global quality standards.
"The investment in bringing the IMV project to South Africa is R2.4 billion. Within this total investment sum is a substantial amount spent on training and people development.
"Today we fully follow the TMC philosophy of 'Built by people the Toyota way'. Key to the success of this philosophy is respect for people within the company and the development of people skills and resources at shop floor level.
"Fundamental to our continued quality advancement is a follow through in training from team members through team leaders to group leaders in our shop floor activities.
"Every team member needs to be equipped with the necessary skills and understanding of the importance of his role in the manufacturing process.
"This is particularly important at this time as we will be moving to a full two shift operation as of the start up of production of the new Hilux. For this we have added more than 800 new employees to the work force.
"Initial training for these new employees has taken place over a four week period. Our minimum educational requirement for this new staff intake was a matric certificate although where we encountered skilled applicants with a grade 10 qualification in English and maths we have given them an opportunity.
"We expect that this will put some R4 million extra a month directly into the local economy without taking any multiplier or supplier benefits into account.
"To achieve the higher shop floor skill levels we have established a number of what we call 'Dojo' centres. The 'Dojo' concept is a direct import from Toyota Japan and translated means a centre for training with feeling and passion for the job.
"Every team member has to pass through these centres before he or she takes up his or her position on the production line. In the Dojo centre there is a full evaluation of individual skill levels.
"The understanding of quality requirements is stressed, as is the impact of the correct assembly sequence on quality. At the end of a four day course in a Dojo centre all team members have a conscious mind as to what is required to build quality into our vehicles.
"We believe that only if every team member, team leader, group leader and manager has a full understanding of the quality process then we will achieve our quality goal of zero defect.
"In order to demonstrate to our people at shop floor level just what is required to become a successful global supplier we have sent over 100 team members, team leaders, group leaders and managers across to Thailand to gain experience in the main source plant for the IMV project.
"In Thailand this group was exposed to the reality of production with a 1.1 minute tack time compared to our current 2.7 minute cycle. We have every expectation that as our experience with the new Hilux grows we will move ever closer to this world class manufacturing benchmark cycle time.
"We have virtually identical facilities with much the same level of automation so this is a real expectation.
"Another quality initiative has been to improve the inspection skills of quality inspectors. Our entire quality assurance network within the company has been enhanced.
"The policy of standardised work routines with every worker confirming quality on the completion of each process is an important element of our quality assurance.
"We have implemented additional quality gates in the manufacturing process from the receiving of materials through to the despatch of the final product.
"From press line through to final sign off there are 35 quality gates. In addition all export vehicles go through a further inspection process, mainly to confirm specification for the respective markets.
"Out of interest the global nature of the IMV programme will see us produce over 170 distinct specification levels for this vehicle. We have a final quality net in place to ensure that customer irritants or IQS (Initial Quality Survey) items are not fed into the market place.
"While our investment in training and quality assurance is substantial, the greater portion of the R2.4-billion investment in new tooling and facilities for this project, which by the way, we believe is the largest investment in a single model in the history of the South African motor industry, has gone into upgrading our facilities to global production standards and higher capacity.
"The biggest element is the introduction of a new GBL or Global Body Line built to Toyota?s global production specifications. This is a flexible facility that can be easily adapted to future model changes with very little further investment. All welding facilities for this product are new as well.
"The assembly line has also been the subject of a major upgrade, mainly to facilitate it for the higher production volumes required.
"The resin plant for the production of bumpers and other plastic components has been relocated and expanded and is complemented by an all new bumper painting facility with this painting process brought in house for the first time.
"Machining facilities have been expanded to include steering knuckles as well as hubs and brake discs.
"Engine assembly capacity has been increased. For the first time the full assembly of diesel engines will be undertaken by Toyota South Africa.
"Axle assembly has also been added to the manufacturing processes. Also new is a short test track in the despatch area. All vehicles will now undergo a dynamic test before shipping.
"South Africa is one of four global production hubs for the IMV project. Of these Thailand is the major one charged with about 50% of world production and was the first to go live with this vehicle in August 2004. Indonesia followed in September 2004 and was joined by Argentina at the end of February 2005.
"Production started in South Africa in April with a launch to the domestic market in May. Exports start around mid-year with the African continent and Europe as the designated export markets for South African production.
"The important aspect of this programme for us is the fact that South Africa is the production base for Europe. With that goes a huge quality responsibility as the expectations in that market are particularly high.
"We have benchmarked our quality requirement against this expectation. To validate our performance and standards we invited a number of European distributors to examine our product together with representatives from the Thailand plant.
"Both expressed their satisfaction with our product. Our IMV product with the Hilux as the main model fully meets global expectations and qualifies for the global 'Built by Toyota' label."Hilux is all-new from the ground up
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