Ware­house won­der­land

Isuzu Aus­tralia’s new state- of-the- art fa­cil­ity is de­signed to tackle a new world of trans­port and lo­gis­tics

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS RICKY FRENCH

Isuzu Aus­tralia’s new fa­cil­ity is ready for a new world of trans­port and lo­gis­tics

When ATN first vis­ited Isuzu Aus­tralia Ltd’s (IAL’s) new Mel­bourne head of­fice and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre back in July 2017, it was plain that this was no or­di­nary con­struc­tion site.

The shell of the 24,000-square-me­tre build­ing reared out of the flat, Tru­gan­ina land­scape like a mono­lith. Perched on the corner of Do­her­tys and Foun­da­tion Road, its sleek, glass-fronted show­room gleamed un­der the low win­ter sun. Cars slowed their rev­o­lu­tions on the round­about to get a bet­ter look at the new kid in town. Progress on build­ing the am­bi­tious fa­cil­ity has been swift, with Isuzu due to move in at the end of Fe­bru­ary. The fa­cil­ity is de­signed to con­sol­i­date op­er­a­tions and bring nearly all of Isuzu Aus­tralia’s op­er­a­tions un­der one (very large) roof. It will house the parts ware­house, a train­ing fa­cil­ity, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment cen­tre, an in­dus­trial en­gine area, the board­room and seven meet­ing rooms. The parts ware­house alone will take up 15,000 square me­tres.

Con­struc­tion com­pany Qanstruct was cho­sen to build the fa­cil­ity. Dexus is the de­vel­oper, with the fa­cil­ity lo­cated within the Dexus In­dus­trial Es­tate, whose ten­ants in­clude Coles, Visy and Carlton United Brew­ery. The lo­ca­tion in Mel­bourne’s west has be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar with trans­port and lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies, be­ing

close to the port, air­port and ma­jor free­ways. De­vel­op­ment is rife through­out the area, but few build­ings make the im­pres­sion that this one does.

MODERN BUILD­ING

Up­stairs in the two-storey build­ing, the of­fice and train­ing area was al­ready begin­ning to take shape in July, but some­thing was no­tice­ably miss­ing in this ul­tra-modern con­struc­tion site.

There were no sparkies clam­ber­ing in the ceil­ing run­ning wires ev­ery­where. With the pan­els due to go on, surely they’d need to make a start to have in­ter­net hooked up to the work sta­tions? Had ATN just un­cov­ered an em­bar­rass­ing over­sight? The an­swer was no. This of­fice is com­pletely wire­less.

Isuzu Aus­tralia di­rec­tor and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Phil Tay­lor sweeps an arm across the first floor and ex­plains the ra­tio­nale: “It’s all wi-fi con­nec­tiv­ity – there’s no wiring.”

But the party tricks don’t end there. The ware­house light­ing is day­light har­vest­ing, mean­ing when the sun is bright enough, the lights will re­duce in power, or even turn off en­tirely, to save power. All the light­ing will be LED.

The build­ing wears a coat of so­lar pan­els and wa­ter tanks har­vest rain. Re­cy­cled wa­ter sys­tems are in­stalled. It’s a sen­si­ble com­mit­ment not just to the en­vi­ron­ment but to the bottom line. Em­brac­ing in­dus­try-lead­ing eco-prac­tices is set to bring both en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic ben­e­fits.

Back up­stairs, the of­fices are laid out into col­lab­o­ra­tive ar­eas. The days of each worker be­ing glued to their desk is over. Peo­ple will be free to move around and take their com­put­ers with them (an­other ad­van­tage of wi-fi). High lift desks will rule the roost. Such is the com­mit­ment to cre­at­ing the ul­ti­mate workspace of today you could be for­given for think­ing you’ve stum­bled upon the Google of­fices, not a truck­ing com­pany.

CON­SOL­I­DAT­ING SUC­CESS

It’s no ac­ci­dent that Isuzu has been Aus­tralia’s num­ber-one truck sup­plier for nearly 30 years. As Steve Brooks noted in ATN’s Jan­uary is­sue, a big fac­tor in Isuzu Aus­tralia’s suc­cess has been its au­ton­omy. Isuzu’s part­ing from Gen­eral Mo­tors led to the for­ma­tion of the Aus­tralian arm, which has con­tin­ued to demon­strate its agility and for­ward think­ing with this ma­jor in­vest­ment.

Tay­lor says con­sol­i­da­tion has been a big pri­or­ity with this new move. Pre­vi­ously, the var­i­ous de­part­ments had been scat­tered all

around Mel­bourne. The parts dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment cen­tre was in Brook­lyn. Head of­fice was in Lorimer Street in Port Mel­bourne.

“Bring­ing all our op­er­a­tions un­der one roof in­creases our ef­fi­cien­cies, par­tic­u­larly with parts,” Tay­lor says. “There’s a huge fo­cus on after­sales in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. This [move] en­ables us to have our parts peo­ple here right on hand.”

TRAIN­ING FO­CUS

Tay­lor says Isuzu will con­tinue to fo­cus in­tensely on tech­ni­cal train­ing, given how quickly truck tech­nol­ogy is evolv­ing. Tech­ni­cians who don’t keep up with the play can find them­selves rapidly left be­hind.

The new fa­cil­ity boasts a com­pre­hen­sive train­ing cen­tre to get ev­ery­one up to speed with new de­vel­op­ments as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We’ll be train­ing all our deal­ers’ sales, ser­vice and parts peo­ple here, as well as train­ing all of our own peo­ple. We’ll even train our fleet cus­tomers – we’ll teach them ba­sic ser­vice tech­niques as this new tech­nol­ogy gets to a much higher level.”

The mas­sive shift to­wards on-board com­put­ers has meant au­to­mo­tive me­chan­ics need thor­ough pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment. The na­ture of the game is much less hands-on and man­ual.

Today, me­chan­ics are likely to throw the cab for­ward and hook up wires from their com­puter into the ECU of the truck rather than go look­ing for the fault them­selves.

“We need more out of the younger techs,” Tay­lor says. “Their train­ing is in­creas­ing all the time, and they must be qual­i­fied to do that in the field.”

By pro­vid­ing a state-of-the-art train­ing fa­cil­ity, Isuzu will be hop­ing to at­tract the best of the young tal­ent in au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing. Ap­pren­tice­ship train­ing will be­gin, along­side sales train­ing and parts in­ter­pre­ta­tion. High-tech com­mu­ni­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties will give ac­cess to video con­fer­enc­ing, pro­vid­ing in­ter­na­tional hook-ups to en­sure in­for­ma­tion is shared im­me­di­ately and ac­cu­rately.

“When we in­tro­duce things like a new emis­sions level, things change. Same with brake sys­tems, drive lines and en­gine tech­nol­ogy. So we’ve got to make sure our tech­ni­cians are right up to speed with that.”

DIS­TRI­BU­TION MOD­ELS

The move is ge­o­graph­i­cally strate­gic from the point of view of how freight is now be­ing de­liv­ered to cus­tomers. Tay­lor says there’s been a big change in dis­tri­bu­tion meth­ods in the truck­ing in­dus­try as we shift from B2B (busi­ness to busi­ness) to B2C (busi­ness to con­sumer).

It’s now com­mon­place for peo­ple to buy gro­ceries and small prod­ucts on­line, rather than from stores, which has con­trib­uted to the shift to­wards sales of light-duty trucks.

“The light-duty mar­ket im­proved around 15 per cent,” Tay­lor says. “The medium-duty mar­ket didn’t en­joy the same growth and the heavy-duty mar­ket is go­ing down. That’s be­cause a lot of it [freight] is flown from over­seas straight to the ports. The way freight is be­ing de­liv­ered now re­quires more en­gage­ment with light-duty trucks.”

That change has put an em­pha­sis on choos­ing a good lo­ca­tion for your op­er­a­tions.

“This is one of the main truck­ing cor­ri­dors of Mel­bourne. A lot of busi­nesses are mov­ing to this side of town. As well as be­ing close to the air­port and Port of Mel­bourne, we have a dealer out here.

“This move will put us in the best pos­si­ble po­si­tion to en­gage with the cross sec­tion of peo­ple driv­ing Isuzu trucks.”

HIND­SIGHT AND FORE­SIGHT

Mak­ing the com­mit­ment to in­vest in a build­ing this size, with all that it en­com­passes, is no small un­der­tak­ing, even for a busi­ness as strong as IAL. But it makes sense once you un­der­stand the build­ing is not just new in the phys­i­cal sense, but a new way of think­ing and of mov­ing for­ward.

None of the tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions that this new head of­fice brings would have been pos­si­ble un­der the old model. The shared, col­lab­o­ra­tive workspaces, the state-of-the-art com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels, the seam­less in­ter­ac­tion be­tween de­part­ments, and the abil­ity to trans­fer knowl­edge and ideas as quick as pos­si­ble are all the hall­marks of modern busi­ness.

With it could come chal­lenges in adapt­ing the cul­ture and work habits to the new en­vi­ron­ment, but the tran­si­tion phase won’t last long. It can’t af­ford to in this com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place.

Tay­lor talks about bring­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion to “the next level”, but it’s also about be­ing will­ing to look at where you’re at and re­flect.

“We of­ten talk about what we sell, but some cor­po­ra­tions don’t spend enough time look­ing in the mir­ror. You might say to your­self, ‘We’re sell­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy but are we op­er­at­ing in the best way we can?’

“That’s why we get the mir­ror out, dust it off and make sure we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. And we’re pretty good at do­ing that.”

NEW WORLD

One thing any head of a ma­jor com­pany must be adept at do­ing is look­ing into the fu­ture. Com­pe­ti­tion is fierce in Aus­tralia’s truck­ing mar­ket and those who suc­ceed all have the abil­ity to see trends and advances in tech­nol­ogy and be there wait­ing for when they ar­rive. Hav­ing a modern, in­ter­con­nected fa­cil­ity that al­lows all ar­eas of an or­gan­i­sa­tion to com­mu­ni­cate seam­lessly un­der the same roof can only be a good thing.

Isuzu has done more than that, though. It has used this op­por­tu­nity to give each depart­ment a thor­ough over­haul, mod­ernise com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­cesses and en­sure it is in the best pos­si­ble po­si­tion to launch new tech­nol­ogy and serve their cus­tomers’ ex­pec­ta­tions. The Isuzu Care Pro­gram is more than just an af­ter sales ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to Tay­lor, it’s a mantra.

“We will place it at the heart of ev­ery­thing we do. It’s a dis­ci­pline within the or­gan­i­sa­tion; how we in­ter­act, how we per­form. It’s all about be­ing cus­tomer-cen­tric.”

It all starts now, at the mas­sive, brand-new fa­cil­ity; from lit­tle more than a shell six months ago to the fi­nal lick of paint go­ing on now.

“You’ve no idea how happy I am to see this com­ing to­gether,” Tay­lor says. “When you look at a set of plans you can’t re­ally com­pre­hend what it’s go­ing to look like. We’ve been wait­ing for this fa­cil­ity for so long.”

“We’ve been wait­ing for this fa­cil­ity for so long”

Above: The modern, sun­light-har­vest­ing de­sign of the vast premises

Be­low: Con­struc­tion com­pany Qanstruct built the $15 mil­lion Trug­in­ina fa­cil­ity Op­po­site: The sod-turn­ing cer­e­mony in April 2017; The shell of the 24,000-square-me­tre fa­cil­ity dur­ing con­struc­tion

Op­po­site: A view of the new fa­cil­ity due to be oc­cu­pied by the end of Fe­bru­ary

Above: Isuzu Aus­tralia di­rec­tor and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Phil Tay­lor

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