Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino
SAFETY has always been every company’s priority in its respective workplaces—much more for those involved —manufacturing in order to prevent unwanted accidents resulting to injuries.
For Hino Motors Philippines (HMP), being innovative and safe at the same time in carrying out manufacturing technologies and practices not only ensure employee safety and satisfaction, but also encourage commitment to quality production, which then lead to quality products and services and customer satisfaction.
As a major commercial vehicle manufacturer in the country, it consistently relies on a safety program code called the “5S Principle,” which the company has been implementing for years, emphasizing work organization, standards and discipline to all employees. This campaign calls upon employees to seiri, or sort tools and items; seiton, or straighten and arrange items for easier access and use; seiso, or shine to ensure regular cleaning of work areas and equipment; seiketsu, or standardize work and processes; and shitsuke, or sustain to continue improving clean and safe practices every day. These safety values go hand-in-hand with ensuring all plant personnel are equipped with safety gears, such as shoes, goggles, gloves, arm covers, hard helmet and even ear muffs while strictly following machine and equipment operation protocols.
But that’s not all. In our recent media plant tour, we also witnessed that in every production area entry, visual reminders are already present. In fact, one of the interesting approaches we noticed was the family wall/corner where photos of the family members of the personnel are posted to remind them of whom they’re ultimately practicing safety for. This is just one of the effective steps that HMP VP and Director Hirokazu Kono introduced to instill the importance of safety as every personnel’s priority.
Close encounter with Hino’s Euro 4-compliant fleet
AFTER the plant tour, we proceeded to the driving facility not only to view HMP’s lineup of Euro 4-compliant trucks and buses, but also to test drive and experience the vehicles. But prior to the plant visit, we already took the first dibs as passengers when a brand-new Grandeza II bus shuttled us to the various sites. The 50-seater bus offers an unmistakably modern and premium-looking interior. Seats are not only draped with fine leather materials, but also ergonomically shaped for a more comfortable posture. Aside from reclining, you can also adjust it laterally to create space between occupants, not to mention, the arctic cold air-conditioning that added to the first-rate ride experience. This modern designed bus is powered by a turbocharged 7.6-liter, inline six-cylinder, diesel engine generating 247 horsepower and 739 N-m of maximum torque paired to a six-speed synchromesh with overdrive manual gearbox.
Lined up at the facility were various Hino trucks and buses—700 series tractor head, 500 series wing van, 300 series crane, Cerito and Grandeza buses, plus two prototype versions of modern jeepney. Each of us was given the option to test two different models. Fascinated and curious about how the future of mass transport would be like inside and out, testing the Class II four-wheeler version (without air-condition) was one of the choices. The exterior frame carries an absolute minibus-inspired design. But inside is where you’ll find the existing jeepney seating configuration, only more spacious with taller headroom and can easily accommodate more than 20 passengers. In fact, the floor space between seats is wide enough that there are still enough room for standing passengers. Ingress and egress access are on the right side for safer loading and unloading of commuters.
Behind the wheel, there’s more legroom for the driver with extensive driving vantage point. While the helm position leaned more forward, it wasn’t difficult at all to turn while operating the soft clutch and smooth gear shifter. Based on the 300 series platform, motivation comes from a 4.0-liter, inline four-cylinder, CRDi diesel engine generating 134 horsepower and 390 N-m of maximum torque coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox. Not only that driving this vehicle would be far more relaxed, but it’s also safer with stronger and more advanced braking system plus the mechanical park brake which current jeepneys don’t have.
Next was the massive 700 series tractor head boasting a modern front-end design. On board the air-conditioned heavy-duty truck, seating position was absolutely comfortable. The enormous helm was surprisingly easy to operate along with the soft clutch and single-sequenced seven-speed manual transmission. Powered by a 12.9-liter, inline six-cylinder with CRDi, this massive motor generates 443 horsepower and a staggering 1,912 N-m of maximum torque. Notable, meantime, was the 500 medium-duty series wing van. With an equally good-looking frontend design and ergonomic interior, it is powered by a turbocharged 8.8-liter, inline six-cylinder, CRDi diesel engine dishing out 335 horsepower and 1,275 N-m of maximum torque. It is paired to nine-speed synchromesh with overdrive manual gearbox.
Ultimately, what was compelling during the entire series of test drives is the eco-friendly benefits of running on a Euro 4-compliant diesel engines. There were absolutely no visible smokes or foul-smelling fumes commonly associated with trucks and buses. It seemed as if all we tested were brand-new diesel-powered passenger vehicles emitting clean exhaust.
Meanwhile, HMP Chairman Vicente T. Mills Jr. acknowledged this new milestone as a reflection of Hino’s continuous support for the Filipino community. “Hino is grateful for this opportunity to offer an eco-friendly yet innovative transport solution that further expands the Hino range of quality of trucks and buses. We will continue to offer quality trucks and buses that meet the different needs of Filipinos, investing in new technologies that do not harm the environment.”