Fri, 14/09/2018 - 05:50
Powering Industry Part by Part
Driven by its people, plants and products, Toyoda Gosei Czech continues to take the automotive manufacturing market by storm
Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Thomas Arnold
With production levels up and investment on the rise, the European automotive industry is set to maintain an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future.
A continental climate of increasing urbanisation and industrialisation, combined with a growing emphasis on improving fuel efficiency and developing autonomous technologies, has led analysts to believe that the automotive plastics market will exceed $50 billion by 2024, up from the $22 billion recorded in 2016.
As a result, whilst major automotive brands are set to reap the rewards of this prosperity, so too will major suppliers and component manufacturers such as Toyoda Gosei Czech (TGCZ), a key European subsidiary within the Toyoda Gosei Group.
Standing as one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of plastic, polyurethane and rubber car components, TGCZ has worked with a significant number of the world’s most substantial brands.
Having only been established in 2001, TGCZ’s swift rise to the top in the European market can largely be attributed to its sound recognition of the importance of continual investment.
Such an attitude is reflected in the firm’s gradual facilities expansion, something that has remained consistent in the 17 years since its inception.
“Our early success as a safety system supplier in the Czech Republic led to our first plant expansion just one year later in 2002. Thereafter, we began to manufacture a wider range of functional components,” explains Jan Richter, the Company’s Vice President and General Manager of Corporate Services and HR.
“Following this, our aggressive sales strategy and the growth of the automotive sector led us to opening our second and third plants between 2004 and 2006, dedicated to the expanded production of our infamous safety systems and the manufacture of rubber sealing for car bodies.
“Since then we have remained consistent, and our recent successes have led to us working on the launch of our fourth and newest production plant that will also be purposed for the manufacture of rubber sealing.”
Upon completion of the latest facility, Richter expects that TG’s total headcount in the Czech Republic alone will exceed 1,400 employees, whilst its national footprint will be expanded to a total 45,000 square metres of leading work space.
Whilst both new and expanded facilities have been fundamental to TGCZ’s growth strategy, so too has been leveraging the latest industry technologies, techniques and processes.
In order to maintain its competitive position within such a cutthroat industry, the TG Group readily monitors all key trends, from industry 4.0 to labour market changes, allowing the firm to continually position itself as a leading manufacturer not only within Europe, but across the globe.
“As a Group, we ensure that we track anything from key technological developments to regulatory alterations in each of the countries that we operate in, including the Czech Republic,” Richter explains.
“At TGCZ alone, we are investing three to five million euros annually on new equipment and new technologies, depending on the state of the market, to ensure that we are able to adapt and accommodate new business as it is demanded.”
“We also have laboratories in Japan working on various new technologies. In fact, we were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2014 after inventing a new energy efficient and environmentally friendly light source, the blue light-emitting diode (LED), one of our greatest successes to date.”
Further, another of the Company’s recent invention includes e-rubber – a material that utilises electric currents to change the characteristics of products.
“E-rubber has been developed and designed for use in robotics and biomechanics, but we believe there is also potential for its application in the automotive sector,” Richter says.
Alongside this emphasis on product innovation, productive efficiency has become increasingly crucial in the modern era, something that has led to the firm financing automated manufacturing processes.
“Apart from continuous kaizen activities across our production, we are working on the renewal of several production lines,” Richter reveals. “Any time such investments are discussed, we always consider how to fasten cycle times and improve ergonomics, amongst other things.”
By identifying these fundamentals, TGCZ is able to tweak its strategy in a proactive manor and maintain a competitive footing across the continent.
One team, one TG
For Richter, none of these developments would be available without TGCZ’s team of competent staff that he stresses are crucial in powering the Company’s progressive ambitions.
“Ultimately, it is the combination of our capable workforce alongside our highly competitive products that have written the major success story of TGCZ,” he states. “We fully entrust our staff, and recognise that they have been crucial in contributing to the growth of our firm over the years gone by.”
Encompassing a motto of ‘One team, one TG’, TGCZ prides itself on being part of the wider Group, a global entity that consistently maintains a high level of best practices, problem solving and teamwork throughout all aspects of its operations.
“We understand the importance of employing motivated people in creating the platform to build a strong company, and this is why we consistently ensure our staff are ready for whatever we have to face in this competitive working environment,” Richter adds.
A major part of TGCZ’s evolution to date has been the development of its human resources, training local staff where possible to be fully capable of operating the Company from head to toe. However, since 2017 the firm has more readily sought to hire foreign workers alongside its traditional approach due to a change in circumstances.
“Central and Eastern Europe is facing major changes in the labour market, where economic booms have significantly influenced employee stability,” Richter explains. “As a result, hiring experienced personnel has become even more difficult, sometimes hindering attempts to increase our workforce as we launch new programmes and products.
“In the face of these changes, we have taken it upon ourselves to begin hiring foreign workers to raise our headcount to the required level.”
To Richter, this ability to adapt in the face of critical situations is crucial in ensuring TGCZ’s continual progression moving forward.
He concludes: “Human management is facing the biggest environmental change since 1989, and those companies that are willing to keep their head up need to find their own way to cope with these adjustments.
“Our own flexibility will help in ensuring that sustainable growth is maintained in the face of this, and in five years we are hoping that TGCZ becomes the number one TG location across the whole of Europe, something we are expecting with our robust production systems continually assuring a high quality and competitive output.”