After 54 years of continuous operation and the production of more than 3.4 million cars, last year Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) shut down its Australian manufacturing plant in Altona. Since then the site has undergone a huge facelift transforming the manufacturing facility into a new Centre of Excellence. This new centre will provide business management consulting incorporating a testing facility complete with track, skid-pans, Belgian blocks and more. Civilex (now Symal) is excited to have been contracted by Toyota Motor Company Australia to deliver the new testing track facility.
From opening its doors in 1963 Toyota produced 3,451,115 vehicles in Australia (specifically in Victoria), and more than 1.3 million of these were exported to the Middle East — a figure significantly greater than both Ford and Holden. Toyota’s production plant was initially located in Port Melbourne until December 1994 when it migrated to the Altona site.
In an industry article published last year by Which Car, former Toyota Australia President Dave Buttner said, “The Centre of Excellence will include a world-class training facility and other commercial initiatives that will enhance the company’s business and the community.” The facility will not be a half-cooked attempt but will offer banked tracks, ripple tracks, Belgian blocks, and skid pans with the longest stretch being one kilometer. He went on to say, “It’s not a race track, it’s not a driver training track. It’s really an evaluation track. We want to make sure that the Centre of Excellence is the foremost training facility for our employees.”
Civilex (now Symal) Creates Toyota’s Test Track
The project involved the civil works associated with the construction of Toyota’s Product Knowledge Centre Driving Course, located in Altona.
Now with the finish line clearly in sight, we can see this is certainly not a “half-cooked attempt”. The unique contract requirements include a porcelain tile road (120mx16m) with a 1mm level tolerance per tile. Additional specifications include construction of a wet area road made of a standard flexible pavement (requiring all rocks properly placed with no lateral joins in the pavements); a hydraulic watering system installed below; and construction of two dry creek beds.
However, one of the most unique aspects of this project is the construction of pavements with an 18-degree incline to allow testing of 4WD vehicles at steep grades.
We look forward to sharing the finished product with you here soon. But in the interim and as a way to celebrate and reward the Project Team’s ongoing work, the BBQ Truck made a visit to the Toyota Test Track site recently delivering sausages in bread, hamburgers and salad, and marinated chicken drumsticks. And although it was a gloomy, grey day the BBQ was enjoyed by all followed by a special toolbox session led by Civilex (now Symal) HSEQ Manager Michael Spiteri. Afterward an iconic “Oh what a feeling Toyota” style team jump in the air!
As a side note to the civil works taking place out at Toyota Altona, the BBQ Truck is the perfect vehicle bringing people and food together socially. The 2017 purchased and custom-built Chevrolet truck is designed to deliver BBQ lunches at Civilex project sites and provides an opportunity for our team to come together to enjoy on-site lunches together. Civilex employee TJ says, “The former red Chevy body was stripped down and works began with a new heart and driveline, new shoes and a custom body.” It’s a complete winner and eye-stopper when up close.