Kaizen Chiefs

10 March 2014

With exciting new products to come and a relentless focus on warehouse safety and minimising whole life costs, Toyota Material Handling UK sales and marketing director Tony Wallis tells HSS editor Simon Duddy how Toyota is preparing for CeMAT and beyond.

Toyota is the world’s bestselling forklift brand and those looking for a broad range of trucks and an expansive approach to forklift fleet management will not be disappointed at the company’s CeMAT stand.

Tony Wallis, the sales and marketing director of Toyota Material Handling UK is looking forward to seeing the company’s latest products and emphasising the Toyota approach to business at May’s CeMAT event, the largest logistics exhibition in Europe.

Tony explains: "You can expect to see an extremely large presence from Toyota at the show. We’ll have a 1,400 sq m indoor space inside Pavillion 32 and an outside covered area of 1800 sq m. It is a huge presence and will be a major showcase in terms of the launch of new products showing the breadth of our range. It is the largest we’ve ever had and we will be one of the largest exhibitors at the show.”

Many of the product launches planned are still under wraps, but the recently released high tonnage range will be on display at CeMAT, as will the heralded and recently introduced hydrostatic transmission forklifts.

The new Toyota Tonero hydrostatic is a European-engineered truck strengthened by a Toyota industrial engine made in Japan and completed by a hydrostatic transmission produced in Germany.

Toyota Tonero diesel forklift trucks are available either with a traditional torque convertor or with the new hydrostatic transmission system. The move has been made in response to customers’ demands and to cover all driver preferences. The first available trucks are in the Tonero 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes diesel counterbalanced truck range.

"The hydrostatic transmission offers end users an option,” says Tony. "It tends to come into its own on short runs requiring high frequency directional change. The Torque convertor model is still the largest section of the market, adding the hydrostatic option allows us to fully meet the market demands."

"It will open opportunities with new customers, certain customers like this type of transmission, and this gives us the opportunity to win that business.”

"CeMAT is a huge investment for Toyota Material Handling Europe, in terms of the large stand space and in product terms. Indeed, it will be the launch pad for the next few years in terms of our products.”

In addition to forklifts new and established, Toyota has designed its stand so customers and prospective customers have plentiful, comfortable places where they can sit and talk with Toyota experts.

"That’s a huge part of what the fair is all about - the ability to network. We’ve seen a 3D presentation of the stand, in virtual reality. It’s very interesting to ‘visit’ the stand before the show, our colleagues in Europe are really excited and looking forward to presenting Toyota in its full glory in one place.

"CeMAT is a huge investment for Toyota Material Handling Europe, in terms of the large stand space and in product terms. Indeed, it will be the launch pad for the next few years in terms of our products.”

A key theme for Toyota at the show is fleet management and telematics, with a focus on how this technology can build on safety performance based on truck design.

On the hardware side, Toyota has taken the step of fitting shocks as standard on reach trucks in the UK, so if they are involved in an impact, it will put the truck into creep mode. Only a supervisor can unlock it, so they then can look at what happened, why it happened, and explore how to stop it in the future.

"If you look at the package on safety,” explains Tony. "In-forklift technology is established. This includes our SAS (System of Active Stability), a world-renowned truck safety system.

"Now we’re taking it further, asking how can we help our customers to manage their fleet in a way to maximise both safety and efficiency during the operating life of the trucks.

"The I_Site telematics fleet management system we have launched includes an electronic pre-operational check, which is a major step forward in terms of site safety and security for operators and their companies. With the electronic pre-operational check, if there is an issue the driver cannot carry on and operate the forklift as normal. It’s not like the old tick box exercise, an email is sent to a supervisor and the onus is on the team to solve the problem there and then before using the truck.”

Toyota is running a number of safety programmes and is the only official material handling partner of EU-OSHA.

"We have the Pride in Performance programme, which touches on safety. The programme is designed to show how we can help a business look at the way they operate, enhance driver skills and ability, help to motivate people to be careful in the workplace.

"Good companies don’t under-estimate the value of good operators. They are efficient and they reduce damage. Forklifts are missiles - operators have to be skilled. That’s why we partner with the RTITB Operator of the Year competition, it aligns with our own training operation. Training and workplace safety is a critical part of the package with Toyota. We have also partnered with major customers who have organised their own operator competitions to promote safety.”

Toyota also maintains that safety can drive down costs. Pride in Performance is not just about safety, as increased driver care helps fleet managers reduce costs.

"During the sales process, service is always a key discussion. Do you have coverage, can you respond quickly, can you cover the country? With more than 600 technicians we can do that. Our first time fix rate is running at 96%.”

"We have developed a formula,” says Tony. "For every £1 in damage a customer incurs to the forklift he will incur £10 in damage to products and facility. There has certainly been a shift in the forklift buying process and how telematics fits in.”

As awareness of these factors increases, whole life costs play a growing part in supplier/customer negotiations. It’s not just about buying the truck, it’s about what the supplier can offer across the whole life of the equipment, in terms of efficiently moving loads and helping customers manage better and reduce accidents.

"A lot of business is contract hire, customers like to understand exactly what the costs are. Outside of those contracts, you’ve also get damage, a lot of companies are now saying can you help us to manage and reduce these costs?”

Another key theme for discussion at CeMAT will be Toyota’s environmental credentials. Toyota Material Handling Europe has launched its first Sustainability report which has been awarded Gold Level for its performance by environmental consultancy EcoVadis.

The Toyota Material Handling Europe sustainability report focuses on Toyota’s factories and the performance of four European countries which includes Toyota Material Handling UK.

At the show Toyota will also emphasise its commitment to service. Toyota’s service  engineers in the UK are equipped with iPads. This is not a gimmick, says Tony.

"Now we have manual and workshop information on a server engineers can access via iPads. As well as being more convenient, it takes the weighty manuals out of the van, leaving more space for equipment and parts. Fitted with 3G we can also communicate direct at the touch of a button to the whole team. It’s a fantastic communication and efficient process tool.

"In our SLAs we stipulate a four hour response time and currently we’re running just above three hours. All of our technicians have overnight parts delivery, they all have Masternaut IT tracking in their van and it all adds up to delivering world class service.

"During the sales process, service is always a key discussion. Do you have coverage, can you respond quickly, can you cover the country? With more than 600 technicians we can do that. Our first time fix rate is running at 96%.”

In terms of the UK market, Tony sees a pronounced upturn, with an air of vibrance returning to manufacturing and other industries.

"Confidence is returning, giving opportunities for employment and development, and in turn a need for MHE. We are looking forward to 2014/15 and the recovery continuing and bringing with it increased demand for efficient and cost effective products.”

Perhaps it’s a sign of this confidence that Toyota Material Handling UK has launched a Logistics Solutions team who will be responsible for providing support to companies who can benefit from its growing range of automated products.

Tony concludes: "In the UK we now see it is appropriate to take automation to next stage. We have been developing the products for some years, many customers are looking to maximise warehouse space and automation can play a major part in that. As an organisation Toyota has some of the best automated and robotic technologies in the world. Over next few years, you’ll see more developments in this area.”

Watch this space.