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Improved safety and reduced cost at DHL by building ‘Pride in Performance’

Material handling operations come with the risk of damage to goods and infrastructure and with significant safety risks for staff. With our support, DHL created a safety culture at its Eindhoven site resulting in lower damage costs.

We identified high maintenance costs for our equipment at the DHL Eindhoven site in the period March-September 2012. We proposed working together on a pilot project to reduce damage costs and human injuries.

The project focused on damage costs, processes and operator culture, working with both operators and local management. Together, we agreed the project’s goal would be to reduce damage costs by 15% within a year.

Damage cost was defined in terms of man-hours lost and investments made in the repair and maintenance of forklift trucks. In interviews, operators provided their input on the underlying causes of the elevated costs.

Integrating DHL tools such as ‘Gemba Walks’ and a ‘Pride Wall’ into our own ‘Pride in Performance’ toolkit, we were able to empower drivers to contribute and implement their own suggestions, leading to sustained reductions in damages and injuries.

Due in large part to a more proactive mentality among drivers, damage costs were reduced by 7% after the first six months. After a year, damage costs were down by 16%, exceeding the original target.

Next steps

To pursue damage cost reduction at DHL, Step 7 of the Pride in Performance programme – Future Plans – has now been set in motion. An action plan with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for forklift drivers has been drawn up and a steering group has been established to ensure project recommendations are followed.


More about the Toolkit

‘Gemba Walk’ in DHL is the term used to describe personal observation of work – where the work is happening. The original Japanese term comes from genbutsu. In the Toyota Way, this is referred to as “Genchi Genbutsu” or “Going to the Source” to gain a complete understanding of a problem and assessing it for yourself.

‘Pride Wall’ is a physical wall where operators and local management can post pictures of challenges and good practice they have picked up during their ‘Gemba Walks’. When an issue has been resolved they can post another picture with some comments, and proudly share “before” and “after” with the rest of the staff.

‘Huddle’: a short daily meeting in front of the Pride Wall, focused on closing out as many issues as possible and keeping the focus of both operators and local management on continuous improvement.

‘Pride in Performance’ is a tool developed by Toyota Material Handling Europe to help customers maximise safety, performance and efficiency of their material handling operations. In our experience, involvement of operators and local management is key in any change management programme. When we work with a customer we introduce the notion of a circular seven step process based on the Kaizen principle.

‘Kaizen’: Japanese for ‘continuous improvement’, suggesting that every product or process can always be improved and therefore every step has to be regularly revisited.

“Toyota Material Handling’s ‘Pride in Performance’ aligned seamlessly with DHL’s ‘First Choice’ quality programme. Together, we created a safety culture at DHL Eindhoven where everyone is more aware of their own safety and that of their colleagues.”
Marcel Nooteboom
Project Manager, DHL Eindhoven, the Netherlands

  • Reduced damage costs by 7% in 6 months
  • Reduced damage costs by 16% in 1 year
  • Created safety culture through staff involvement
  • Sustained results
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