In 2014 Toyota Material Handling took a high-profile position in pavilion 32 at CeMAT in Hannover. We asked Matthias Fischer, President and CEO of the company; what have been the main achievements of Toyota in Europe since the last exhibition?
“We have continued with our plan, which is to reflect the market-leading position that Toyota Material Handling Group holds worldwide here in Europe too. Our market share has continued to grow, and we believe that we are now on a similar level with the other two major companies in the European market. We are particularly pleased that we have achieved this growth whilst maintaining strong profitability – which means that we can continue to invest in products and services specifically to meet the needs of European customers.”
A key factor is the way the market is developing. Fischer has a clear view on this: “We have seen a strong market recovery since the financial crisis, and the signs are that the market will continue to grow. At the same time we are seeing that our customers are looking for continuous improvements in their handling operations – to improve safety and cost efficiency – higher reliability and utilisation levels, optimised use of energy, higher productivity and so on. This is where we have been focusing a lot of attention.”
So what of Toyota’s plans for 2016? We asked what visitors can expect from this year’s presentations at CeMAT and what will be the highlight. Matthias Fischer explained: “We are occupying the same pavilion position that we had in 2014, and it is not possible for me to identify a single highlight for this year’s show. The scope of what we offer today is very wide, and we have to address many different customer expectations. Perhaps the highlight is the diversity of thinking that we have on offer.”
“New thinking is reflected in our T-motion presentation, where we look at improved ways of moving things without forks. Automation is a key story, with a focus on simplicity - and we also have a look at the future with a tour through a number of new truck concepts. At the last CeMAT we presented our smart truck concept, and this year we have a major feature called Smart Dynamics, showing the many things you can improve based on this technology.”
So what does that mean for visitors wanting to see the latest forklift trucks? “We are of course showing our latest trucks – both warehouse and counterbalanced models – and one key story here is that we are now able to offer lithium-ion batteries across our electric range – which makes us the market leader with this technology.” Fischer continued on the energy theme: “We have a feature on new energy, with fuel cell technology – again available now.”
Toyota Material Handling has been using the word ‘Logiconomi’ in pre-CeMAT presentations. We asked Fischer to explain: “It’s simply our way of thinking – our philosophy, if you like. Toyota has a great reputation for developing new approaches to business, the most notable being the Toyota Production System – which we will be presenting with a small feature at CeMAT. It was the basis for so-called lean manufacturing and we are now translating that thinking to deliver lean logistics. We know that our customers want the most efficient (or lean) logistics solutions and they also want to bring down total cost of operation. Logiconomi describes it very well, and we have processes working with customers, suppliers and industry experts to continuously look for improvements that we can develop and deliver to the market.”
look for improvements that we can develop and deliver to the market.” CeMAT has for many years been recognised as the leading event in the European market. We asked Matthias Fischer how important Europe is to the Toyota Group as a whole. “It is arguably the most important market, for two reasons. Firstly because in terms of units sold, it is the largest continental market in the world, and also because the approach to logistics in Europe sets the standard for the rest of the world to follow – in terms of safety, productivity and efficiency.
That is why we have been developing products and services specifically for our European customers. It is also part of the reason why we continue to invest in research, development and manufacturing resources here in Europe. The fact that we build over 95% of our European sales here in Europe is a clear indication of our commitment to the market.”