Hino South Africa (SA) has restarted truck assembly at its plant in the Toyota Prospecton manufacturing complex, in Durban, following extensive flooding in April.
The remainder of the Toyota plant remains in recovery mode.
“This was a wonderful reward for a Herculean effort by a dedicated team that included three specialists from Hino Motors in Japan who had prior experience in cleaning up and putting into operation factories damaged by tsunamis in Japan,” says Hino SA VP Ernie Trautmann.
A total of 78 built-up trucks and completely knocked-down kits of components were damaged in the floods and will be scrapped and destroyed so that none of the compromised vehicles or parts reach the market, he adds.
The most significant damage to the plant was caused by a wall of water and silt that came down the river next to the plant when the sluices at the overfull Shongweni dam were opened.
The existing canals and drains had been able to handle the initial downfall of rain in April, and they also proved effective when the second bout of flooding hit KwaZulu-Natal on May 21.
Cleaning the mud and fine silt from the many pieces of electronic and mechanical equipment in the various production plants has proved time-consuming and the Toyota passenger car and light commercial vehicle (LCV) production lines are still not operational.
None of the suppliers to the Hino plant were affected by the flooding, whereas many supporting the car and LCV plants suffered extensive damage to their factories and equipment.
Hino SA lost about 550 vehicles out of its scheduled production, but is confident that it will be able to clear this shortfall by year-end.
About 100 assembly line workers went home for the first week after the floods and then returned to the plant in batches during the following weeks to assist in the flood recovery programme.
“Keeping customers fully aware of when they could expect delivery of trucks already ordered, or when production was expected to restart, was a priority for our sales and marketing team,” says Trautmann.