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Big build for Toyota

Toyota has just completed a massive extension to it's national parts warehouse and now begins strengthening the rest of the building. But it means introducing an urgent and non urgent delivery system for customers.

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The new two-speed delivery system is a necessary, but temporary step, as the company begins a seismic upgrade at its national warehouse in Palmerston North. It’s the second stage of a massive project – the first was to build the 11,000 sq metre extension, which has just been completed.

Manager of Parts Logistics and Operations, Dave Rhodes-Robinson (above) says once the project is completed, deliveries will come and go with greater efficiency. "However, there will be significant disruption over the next 18-24 months with the seismic work underway alongside normal normal operations. To ensure Toyota can continue to deliver urgent parts to dealers and customers overnight, as it does at the moment, Toyota moved to two day delivery for non-urgent orders from mid-November."

Until now, Toyota has made a point of providing overnight delivery for 95 percent of all orders. But Dave says the $30m project has reached the stage where the warehouse’s entire stock of 1.4 million individual parts have to be moved which necessitates some changes to make room for the expected disruption.

“All urgent orders will be continue to be delivered to dealers overnight as they do currently. But non-urgent orders will move to two day delivery, and we are asking dealers to ask trade customers if deliveries are urgent, or if they can wait another day. We are also asking dealers to consider matching their routine bulk orders to the two day cycle.”

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It's a logistical challenge

The warehouse now has a total of 35,000 sq metres but during the upgrade crews will have to dismantle and move kilometres of racking, and all the parts they hold. "Some of it is being moved into the new extension, but most of it will have to be moved within the rest of the building, more than once in many cases, to clear areas while new beams and sprinklers are put in,” explained Dave.

The changes will bring in much more efficiency to the layout as well as improve safety for those working there. The new racking will be closer together and traffic will be one-way – with staff and the small electric vehicles used to collect the parts moving in one direction to avoid ‘head on’ movements.

“It’s all about further separating people and machines, as well as machines and machines, to increase safety”

The new extension will also house the entrance for inbound and outbound goods, and again the new design allows for much more traffic in a much safer and more efficient way.

The project is a huge undertaking but necessary, as Toyota has more than doubled its sales and throughput since it first expanded its original warehouse in the early 2000s.