Toyota wants everything to keep going better
Investment by the Japanese source company has given Toyota SA a boost, writes DON ROBERTSON
BERT WESSELS, chief executive of Toyota SA, can rightly stand by his company's slogan that "everything keeps going right", but he concedes there is still a lot to do to achieve world-class quality.
Last October's R446-million investment in Toyota SA by the Japanese source company, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), and the appointment of three senior executives to the Toyota SA board this month now make this possible.
Makoto Seki was appointed co-ordinating director with sales and marketing as his main endeavour, Takesuke Mori will oversee quality and purchasing and Sadoa Nomura will handle manufacturing operations and product engineering. In addition, Akiharu Hoshi has been appointed chief co-ordinating executive for production control and logistics.
Toyota SA has announced a significant increase in its capital investment programme. It will be lifted to R1.7-billion to the year 2000 compared with the R1.4-billion initially estimated. "Our investment programme for the period shows an amount of R575-million for new models and R700-million for facility and logistic improvements. A significant R416-million is targeted at our drive to achieve world-class quality standards in all aspects of our business," says Wessels.
Seki says Toyota SA has been a good performer for the past 30 years and all TMC hopes to do is improve the relationship between TMC and the local company.
"We understand that big business needs big money," says Seki. "We will support the company by sending experts in various fields to the group over the next few years in an effort to improve quality."
He insists, however, that TMC will not become involved in industrial relations between the company and its workforce. While quality is acceptable by international standards, efforts will be made to introduce lean production methods, improve distribution and the efficiency of labour and keep a tighter control of the inventory, says Seki.
The closer links with TMC will allow the sourcing of components from Toyota plants around the world and, with some improvements locally, could involve the additional export of components from South Africa, says Seki.
The transport of vehicles to the body shop will be improved to better match high labour operations with those requiring less. Body handling and storage facilities will be upgraded with the vehicle being presented to the worker in the most accessible way to reduce fatigue and eliminate body damage.
"By 2000 quality at Toyota SA will be comparable with the best outside Japan," says Wessels. He admits that Toyota SA is totally self-sufficient almost to its detriment. The price: earnings ratio is not that exciting and little has been done to promote the shares.
While the Wessels family's controlling shareholding will not change, efforts will be made to strengthen the company financially so that it can consolidate its market leadership. Wessels believes the total vehicle market will grow from the 395 000 units last year to 450 000 by 2002 and that Toyota's market share will rise from its current 25% to 30%.
This will require an increase in annual production to 140 000 units from the current 110 000 units.
TMC has allowed Toyota SA to add six African countries to its export area this year to supplement the existing six right-hand drive and three left-hand drive export markets in Africa. "Ironically, the production of left-hand drive vehicles causes fewer problems than right-hand drives as the workers seem to take a special pride in each unit, knowing it is to be exported," says Wessels.