The completion of the Hino 700-Series project was celebrated with a line-off ceremony at Hino South Africa’s production facility in Prospecton Durban, on June 2. This marked the return of Hino to the extra-heavy segment of the South African truck market after a break two years, so it was an important event for a company that has been selling Hino trucks locally for more than 50 years.
Hino production moved into the current plant in 2013 after having shared a facility with Toyota Hi-Ace minibus production between 1972 and 2012. The new plant has a maximum production capacity of 5 000 trucks a year, with planned output for 2023 set at 3 500 trucks. The plant works a single shift and has a staff complement of 114 people.
The plant now assembles four Hino models and 35 derivatives on a semi-knocked down basis. There is one 200-Series, which is in the light commercial vehicle segment (under 3 500 kg GVM), 13 300-Series medium trucks, including crew cab models, five 500-Series, 12 Wide Body Hino 500-Series and now four 700-Series derivatives.
The new facilities and equipment installed for the 700-Series project include chassis assembly dollies, improved chassis alignment equipment, fastening equipment for the improved huck-bolt fastening system used on the 700 chassis and a set-up zone for the radar and cameras required for the pre-collision and lane departure warning equipment, which is standard fitment on this model.
“The Hino 700 project had some major challenges for us, with a major one being that we did not have hands-on assistance from Hino Motors in Japan due to COVID travel restrictions,” explained Bernett Mlambo, Vice President – Toyota Components Manufacturing (TCM), speaking at the Hino Prospecton plant line-off function.
“We did have the benefit of two of our team members spending time working in the Hino 700 plant in Japan, so they brought back valuable experience. However, the successful implementation of this project, with all quality targets being met, is a tribute to the efforts of all our staff and the support teams.”
The two team members from the Hino plant in Prospecton who went to Japan were the production team leader and master trainer, and a production engineer. Others involved with the 700 project who accompanied them were two quality control engineers, a project engineer, and a facility engineer.
“We, at Hino Motors in Japan, are most impressed with the way the Prospecton team tackled this project and the successful outcome. Now the challenge is to lift sales of the 700-Series in South Africa from an initial rate of 100 units to 1 000 trucks,” said Nozomu Harada, Hino’s Chief Officer in Charge of Total Support.