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Hino Australia

Hino Australia offers a complete range of next-generation light, medium and heavy-duty transport solutions for Australian customers. As you would expect from a Toyota-affiliated company, Hino continues to set the standards for safety, performance, efficiency and comfort. With over 80 years of design experience globally, and over 55 years in the Australian market, Hino is proud of its longevity.

The Challenge

Our old intranet was built from scratch by my previous manager. It was a limited site that only covered reporting because of the difficulty in developing all the CMS functions in-house. Most processes including document management were still very manual and paper based.

I needed a proven CMS platform with viable off-the-shelf functionality I could build a new intranet on. I had to spend my time supporting existing systems, but I could have my developer work on the implementation and would hire a contract programmer to do any customisations. The CMS had to be open for developer customisation. As an IT person, you are dealing with a lot of systems that will need to integrate with the intranet, plus custom functions specific to the business that must be built.

Once the intranet was put up, I planned to target the most troublesome manual processes across different departments and automating these on the intranet. This would make the intranet integral to staff’s day-to-day-work. I also wanted to use the CMS to build other solutions including an extranet, portal, and web application interface.

The cost and time savings are huge for Hino. With the Elcom platform, my team and I can keep adding new solutions and applications to automate manual and time-consuming processes at no additional cost. We managed to set a record and put up a new portal site for fleet customers in days – and for free! Jack Liu, Department Manager – Information Technology
Hino Australia

The Solution

I chose the Elcom platform because of the cost and customisation offered. It had a lot of off-the-shelf features I could use, a developer API and good technical support, at an affordable cost. Configuring the Elcom system was straightforward because the installation package sets up everything for you. 80% of our stage 1 intranet used CMS functions the platform provided. We then started to build up the development environment and added custom features. We also built a coding resource control and the web API, making it integration friendly with other third-party systems including our ERP system.

Every department has their own IT budget, and vendors and consultants compete for their budget. If my colleagues wanted to automate small manual functions, I lobbied them to let my team build it on the Elcom platform instead. They were impressed we could put up solutions so fast and at no cost to them. We then progressed to automating bigger end-to-end processes. Now the company has decided that all system requests should firstly go through my team for a solution before looking for external systems and vendors. We currently have a list of 50 customisation projects planned, big and small.

We built a centralised platform for hosting IT solutions across the entire business, named Hino Central. It includes an intranet for staff, extranet for dealers, and portals for our other business partners such as fleet customers and body builders. We manage access to each solution using Elcom’s security permissions. Each department has 1 or 2 publishers who can make updates or add content and publish it themselves. This saves a lot of time for our IT department.

We finally have a platform with off-the-shelf tools and features we can build on. As long as you know programming, you can customise the Elcom platform to whatever you need. We extensively use Elcom's existing permission management framework, workflows and look up tables. We do not need to reinvent those interfaces, which makes the development of custom functionality, like the ability to provide online tracking for vehicle recalls, so much easier. Then we just need to create a new page and insert the customised control onto the page, publish and that’s it.

We use Elcom as our web application platform to host all our operation’s process automations. We are constantly adding new applications to help departments automate manual processes, like the Extended Warranty System. Recently we added an Accounts Payable automation to manage the entire end-to-end supplier invoice approval process. We have an Optical Character Recognition solution to extract information from supplier invoices and insert it into the database table that is used to populate invoice records in Elcom. Then we use the Elcom workflow function to request approval from different staff members based on the amount and department being invoiced. Once approved it goes to our ERP system for payment. We also use Elcom folders to manage the invoice attachments and have set up security group permissions to the folder to manage access.

The Elcom platform lets us integrate multiple systems for the first time including our ERP system, the IBM AS/400 platform. This is one of the most difficult systems to integrate with because the drivers it uses are so different to Microsoft-based products, and the support resources are so limited.

The Benefits

Hino Central has become the central portal not just for staff members to access the intranet, but for everyone who does business with Hino Australia.  

Time and cost savings

  • The cost and time savings are huge. Buying a new system or application for each process a department wants to automate, paying to customise it to what the business needs and then paying subscription fees can make it expensive. Now I can build it as a custom function on Hino Central.
  • For the body builder portal, we took a copy of the intranet, updated the navigation and content, and set up security group permissions to manage user access. This had resulted in building a portal without spending a cent.
  • More recently, the Finance team was approached by an Accounts Payable automation vendor to automate the invoice approval process. If we used their solution to process tens of thousands of invoices per year, the subscription cost would be huge. Instead, my team built an Accounts Payable automation which is fully integrated with our existing systems. Given the third-party solution wasn’t even an integrated solution, our solution not only brought about significant cost savings, but also provided a better solution.

Easy and seamless integration

  • The biggest benefit to me is that the Elcom system is an integration friendly system with comprehensive API functions provided to developers. With the Elcom API functions, we are able to provide a high degree of integration and automation and the solution development lead time is reduced significantly. For example, we are using Elcom’s Look Up module for managing system parameters for governing program flows. Elcom’s User Operation API functions has enabled us to implement membership auto enrolling for portals. We are also using Elcom’s document and folder API function for managing data batch upload templates.
  • All the systems sitting within our business operational boundary are integrated. For example, with the accounts payable automation, supplier invoice details are pulled from another application into the intranet for approval. Once it’s approved, the invoice is pushed to our ERP for payment. Once the invoice is paid on the ERP, the status is updated back into the intranet. There is a complete and seamless integration between systems and the user only needs to complete the order operations on the intranet, without needing to log out and log into another system to complete the process.
  • Currently the IT department has 5 staff members. 4 of us are capable in coding and we still need to spend time supporting existing systems. That means if you work with the Elcom platform, you do not have to have a big team to do any customisations you need.

Huge productivity gains

  • Automating all these end-to-end processes saves our staff a lot of time. Hino Central has made everyone’s life easier and there are 1100 active users using our solutions. All staff members use the intranet and do a lot of their day-to-day tasks there. We are consistently adding new applications to the intranet to help different departments automate troublesome manual and time-consuming processes. These range from small ones such as an Excel spreadsheet automation to big ones like the Extended Warranty System.
  • The dealers are all using our portal to get information from headquarters. We have also automated processes for dealers. For example, if a dealer wants to claim a rebate, they submit a request in the portal. Once approved, the portal will talk to our ERP system to raise the credit and then it will go straight into their account. Within the claims interface, I provide WeChat functionality because it is how they like to communicate with us.

Ease of use and customisations

  • It was easy and straight forward to set up a solution using the Elcom system because the installation package sets up everything for you. Putting up an entire site is easy and deploying a web page takes a few minutes for us.
  • It even makes the deployment of customisations a lot easier. The beauty of the Elcom platform is that those core functions that people use the most are already available. We can focus on the custom functions like the ability to provide online tracking for vehicle recalls.

Integral to the business and my department

  • Previously, other departments were using their IT budgets to buy new systems and pay external consultants. Senior management also used the IT budget for an ambitious project using another system. But what they found was that customising it to business needs was a long journey and the cost was beyond what was budgeted.
  • The hard work that we have put in building Hino Central and consistently adding new applications to help departments has successfully shown staff the potential of this system in solving real business problems. Because we can build custom functions on the existing Elcom platform, everything we put up is very cost effective and can be done within a short lead time. It helped to build up the reputation of our IT department and gain confidence from management and I credit it with saving my department.
  • Since 2020, the company has decided to have IT to do everything, rather than have departments buy new systems and applications. We currently have a list of 50 customisation projects, big and small, that I'm planning to finish implementing within two years.

Want a PDF version of the Hino Australia success story? Click to download.

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