Isuzu trucks and D-Max ranges are now built alongside each other at the company’s new manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth. Picture: SUPPLIED
Isuzu trucks and D-Max ranges are now built alongside each other at the company’s new manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth. Picture: SUPPLIED

The new Isuzu Motors SA (IMSA), established in the wake of the 2017 exit of General Motors, recently celebrated its first year of operating independently in this country.

Among the many aspects of repurposing systems to align with Isuzu’s international standards and protocols was the mammoth task of relocating its truck production facilities to the company’s new HQ in Struandale, Port Elizabeth, resulting in the merging of manufacture of the Isuzu D-Max bakkie and Isuzu’s three truck series under one roof.

“Having both Isuzu production facilities under one roof has many advantages, including driving a common team culture and the optimisation of shared resources,” said Michael Sacke, CEO and MD.

“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,” he said.

Compared to the old Kempston Road location, which had been operating for 21 years, a 50% improvement in space utilisation under one roof was achieved, and a 22% improvement in the overall amount of space required, said the company.

IMSA CEO Michael Sacke poses with some of the company’s longest serving members as they cut the symbolic ribbon. Picture: SUPPLIED
IMSA CEO Michael Sacke poses with some of the company’s longest serving members as they cut the symbolic ribbon. Picture: SUPPLIED

“It took many months to study, plan and execute the truck plant move and offered the ideal opportunity to correct historical layout inefficiencies,” said 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.

“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,” he said.

Isuzu is the market-leading truck seller in SA’s medium and heavy truck segments, with its N-Series and F-Series, respectively.

Strategic partnerships, among them being the purchase of truck body building specialists Kanu  about three years ago, has contributed to the business. As an official subsidiary of IMSA, Kanu builds all sorts of truck bodies for Isuzu customers, from the basic to the bespoke.