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Hino SA Truck production restarts after KZN flood damage

Hino South Africa’s truck plant at Prospecton, outside Durban, is already ramping up to its required output rate after restarting production on 23 May following an enforced shutdown of 40 days resulting from extensive damage caused by the floods that hit KwaZulu-Natal on 11 April.

 “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,” commented Ernie Trautmann, Vice President of Hino SA.

A total of 78 built-up trucks or completely knocked down kits of components were unsalvageable, and will be scrapped, and destroyed so that none of these compromised vehicles get into the market.

The major damage 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 manage the initial downfall of rain and they also proved effective when the second bout of heavy flooding hit KZN 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 extremely time-consuming and the Toyota passenger car and light commercial vehicle production lines are still not operational.

None of the suppliers to the Hino plant were affected whereas many supporting the car and LCV plant also suffered extensive damage to their plants and equipment.

Hino lost approximately 550 vehicles out of scheduled production, but the management team is confident they will be able to catch up 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 our customers fully aware of developments in terms 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. We have found our customers to be most understanding of our plight in these challenging times and are expediting the process to ensure delivery as soon as possible,” concluded Trautmann.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa