“Collaboration is essential,” continued Fischer “and we recognise the need to gain valuable input and feedback from our customers as early as possible in the development process. This was already the case for the Europallet, which we developed in cooperation with the Swedish Railways back in the 1940s. It was a fitting example of early collaboration to eliminate wasted space in railway and road containers. But of course today’s technical revolution requires us to embrace many more opportunities and challenges.”
The convention included keynotes from guest speakers including Dr Patrick Dixon, a leading futurist who set the scene by reflecting on the speed of change in human expectations. Randall van Poelvoorde gave an insight into the fast changing world of robotics and artificial intelligence, and President of Volvo Venture Capital, Per Adamsson, explained how collaboration and technical partnerships have helped to develop Volvo’s use of telematics in road vehicles.
The event provided delegates with the opportunity to look at some of the latest developments from Toyota Material Handling Europe in the areas of automation, including robotics concepts from Toyota’s sister company Vanderlande; future handling scenarios based on artificial intelligence – known as ‘A.I. Team Logistics’, as well as a focus on energy, including the latest lithium-ion battery technologies. Telematics was another key area, based on Toyota’s leading market position, now with well over 50,000 smart trucks in operation, and with next-generation technologies enabling pre-planned flash-servicing.
Another unique aspect of the convention was the opportunity to see how automation is now being progressively introduced into Toyota’s own factories, to further improve the efficiencies of the Toyota Production System – which forms the foundation for the company’s ‘Lean Logistics’ programme. “We have a strong reputation for lean-thinking,” continues Fischer, “and we want to continuously improve our approach, focusing on the elimination of waste, preventing injuries and boosting productivity. This event has helped us to share our ideas, gain valuable feedback, and share our lean-thinking with customers.”