Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) has begun work at its parts distribution warehouse in the East Rand to expand the facility from its current 40 000 square meters to 80 000 square metres. The company is investing R365-million in the project. When completed in 2021, this facility will be the largest automotive parts warehouse in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The company says the investment is a true reflection of its commitment to both the South African economy as well as the local automotive sector.
“This investment will also strengthen our position as a Toyota regional manufacturing hub with an ability to fully support any locally manufactured vehicle, regardless of its destination. This will further create an environment in which Toyota and the automotive industy can further expand operations, in turn benefiting our local suppliers and the local automotive sector,” says President and CEO of TSAM Andrew Kirby.
The expanded facility facility will allow the company to further improve the availability of service and replacement parts on all of its vehicles – including brands like Toyota, Hino and Lexus. It will also support over 250 dealerships in the SADC region, as well as 70 international destinations where proudly South African- built Toyota vehicles are found. The present warehouse building was officially opened in 2012 and was designed to be environmentally sensitive. It boasts a water collection and irrigation system aimed at reducing the total water consumption at the facility. There is also an underground retention tank with the capacity to hold up to 175 000 liters of rain water collected from the warehouse roof, and then drained through a bio-filter before it is used to irrigate the landscape areas. The new phase, currently under construction, will feature a 2-milion-litre tank for the harvesting of rain water.
Already a state-of-the-art Meg’s distribution centre, the warehouse will be turned into an ultra-facility, absorbing all the operations from the company’s first warehouse of 22 000 square metres located in Sandton. According to TSAM’s Senior of Sales and Marketing, Leon Theron. “The sheer size and scale of the warehouse we are building is a clear indication that we are committed to the South African automotive sector, as well as playing a regional hub to the rest of the continent. We would like to remain Africa’s most popular vehicle brand and a reliable supply of parts flowing through from our parts’ warehouse is integral to our strategy,” says Theron.
The outbreak of COVID-19 had slightly hampered progress in April and May, both TSAM and developer Investec – who built the original structure – are confident the facility will be officially opened next year. “The project has been delayed and will now also be affected by the December holiday period. The original plan was to compete construction by end of November, but we then lost two months due to lockdown. However, we are pleased that everyone involved in the project is working hard to minimize the impact of the delay,” says Anand Pather, Vice President of Customer Service at TSAM.
He added that, from the outset of the project, both TSAM and Investec have been working closely in carefully managing every element of the brief. In fact, when the government introduced COVID-19 compliance measures prior to relaxation lockdown regulations in May, the construction site was set up to allow for screening (temperature checks), hand sanitization as well as to encourage workers to practise social distancing.
The design and layout of the phase 2 facility has already been updated to promote physical separation and social distancing, accommodate space for temperature screening and ensure adequate ventilation. While the introduction of a second canteen was fortuitous, it will certainly assist with the efforts to encourage social distancing and ensure that no more than 50 people in either of the canteens at any point in time.