All Images By: Al Nicoll Photography
When we were invited to tour with Brand South Africa, I knew we would be taken care of. What I didn’t know was that the first day of our 4 day tour was going to start off in a place I have wanted to visit for years.
A motor vehicle manufacturing plant, and not just any plant but Toyota_South Africa. Toyota is a household name among most South Africans. We have memories and stories with this brand from our early childhoods. At least one person in your family has a story about their trusty Toyota or an adventure that they set off in one and the friends they made along the way.
Andrew Kirby the President & CEO of Toyota SA Motors,welcomed us to the plant alongside Brand South Africa and the Department of Trade and Investment. Andrew explained with passion and love of his craft what Toyota does, how they do it and why they do it.
Toyota are known for being one of the most trustworthy and well built vehicles of all time,lasting through several generations and still running smoothly years later. Basically if you haven’t had a Toyota at some point, you’re not a real driver yet, lol.
We were lucky enough to visit the plant in Prospection, Durban, South Africa. This plant has been operating in Kwa Zulu Natal since 1968 and by 1980 Toyota has claimed the title of Number One Selling Auto Brand in Southern Africa. A position it still holds to this date.
Some of the more well known models that are produced locally at this plant and in South Africa, are the Corolla, Hilux and local HiAce Taxi’s. The HiAce Taxi’s are now used as the main vehicle for public transport over the African continent. Unlike many brands, Toyota parts are easier sought here than abroad, with 128 local part suppliers in South Africa, 57 which are in Durban.
Toyota is a brand which believe in empowering their staff, who believe in seeing people grow. They have several dedicated learner-ship programs that staff can benefit from including but not limited too, Disabled Learners, Apprenticeships, Graduate Trainees and In-Service Trainees.
Toyota have social out reach programs at Issy Geshen Old Age Home, The Highway Hospice and Pillsbury Child Care Center. The Brand is looking into and will continue striving to protect the environment in the production of their product. Leading by example as they currently look into a project to produce a car that release’s Zero CO emissions which is no small feat.
The brand are very active with the Aids Awareness Campaign and provide ample education and support to their staff in this regard. Employees can be enrolled in the HIV Wellness Program if they test positive. This means they have access too, check ups, treatment plans and counselling.
After hearing about the amazing work that is done by Toyota not only at the plant but on an International basis, we were then kitted out and taken on a guided tour. I love dressing for the job, but they were quite serious about just how dressed we were. This was good to see, safety should always be taken seriously.
The factory tour itself was very interesting, learning about what parts are made manually and what parts are left to machine alone. Watching the workers follow instruction codes that look like a made up language, really showed the level of responsibility held by each factory worker. One mistake along the production line and an entire order may have to be scrapped.
Watching the robots work, was a little more creepy. The way they moved with such ease and speed, silent in their perfection I thought as I stood there. It actually gave me pause for thought and made me wonder, just how far we want to take automatic construction.
The exciting part is watching a car come together, as the tour moved down the line and we started seeing pieces of metal become frame, and nuts and bolts become hinges, the excitement built.
I have had a passion for cars for as long as I can recall and as long as anyone in my family could tell you. There is something that speaks to me when I look at something designed the way cars are.
Be it their bodies, engines, frames, or souls. At the end of our tour we stopped near the factory workers who were adding handles and doors to the body frames. I found this part the most fascinating. I had this idea that this would be done by robot or machine solely, but nope. It’s 50/50 effort by factory worker and machine.
The two have to work as one to complete the task at hand and I find a little comfort in that.
As our tour came to an end, we stopped for a brief chat about the rest of the production process and how hundreds of vehicles are built everyday. And not just built but made to exact specifications, which is why one mistake could cost you everything
So thank you to Brand_South Africa, Trade and Investment_Durban and Toyota_SouthAfrica for hosting us!
It was an insightful and exciting day. Now, let’s see about getting Cee into a car? *Giggle*
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