Toyota Material Handling UK is the official sponsor of SHD Logistics Award categories ‘Operations Large’ and ‘Operations SME’. We speak to sales and marketing director, Tony Wallis, about the industry, and why these categories are so important to the Fork Lift manufacturer.
SHD: What are the biggest threats to supply chain and logistics operations (large and SME) in 2015? How can businesses address them?
Tony: There are critical factors involved in maintaining a long term successful business irrespective of size. Successful businesses are dependent on being able to respond rapidly to changes in the market place and being totally flexible in supply chain solutions to make this possible. Optimising inventory and handling costs in response to changes in product demand is also critical as exposure to new products and new companies drive changes in customer behavior.
SHD: Why is it important that logistics and supply chain professionals are innovative when implementing products and processes into their supply chain?
Tony: The key driver in the economic recovery since 2009 has been the demand for less cost, less waste and added value in the supply chain. Increased pressure on margins, demands innovation focused on products, process and people. Failure to recognise that poor processes lead to increased costs and more resources will result in lost business to the more innovative companies who recognise that quality and cost are a direct result of strong processes.
SHD: Entry criteria for SHD Awards categories ‘Operations Large’ and ‘Operations SME’, asks companies to detail their finely tuned supply chain. But what does a finely tuned supply chain look like?
Tony: A finely tuned supply chain incorporates the 3P’s of product, process and people working in the same direction to satisfy customer demands. They are all intrinsically linked. Failure on any of the three elements leads to process breakdown and increased costs.
SHD: How has e-commerce & e-tail changed the demands of your customers?
Tony: It has changed the whole world – we are now one community with instant access to global information. We can see anything at any time 24/7. We order products and services and expect instant confirmation of availability and delivery and it all ends up with additional demands on supply chain and logistics. E-commerce / e-retailing has a great impact on how warehouse and distribution centres are managed. Often these types of operations can be more complex, they may require less stock and faster delivery times. This presents alot of new challenges to our customers and therefore to us. This type of operation needs partnerships between the customers and material handling partner to be strong, so they can work together to find the right solution – this may be a change of equipment type or options relating to automation.
SHD: Which new technologies can Toyota bring to the warehouse to help its customers deliver operational excellence in 2015?
Tony: At Toyota we are driven by continuous improvement (Kaizen). New technology is evident in all products designed to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity irrespective of the size of the business. From the simple hand pallet truck to the latest in automation, we are focused on improving warehouse efficiency. Toyota I_Site, the new Fleet management system is a great example of delivering operational excellence with GPS technology ensuring that productivity is maximised for every piece of material handling equipment in the business. The system continues to develop and Toyota I_Site has recently benefited from three new features to further increase safety and maintain optimal remote fleet control: pre-operational checks, the mobile App and SmartAccess. Compatible with today’s iPhone technologies, the Toyota I_Site mobile app is simple to download and use. It gives you instant access to any truck’s history and activity while you are on the move. The App also helps you to reactivate a truck that is automatically shut down due to a failed pre operational check or high impact. The Toyota I_Site SmartAccess control system for forklift trucks is an advanced means of driver and personnel safety check. It gives access to premises and truck to authorised people only via a single ID card and a card reader on the vehicle which covers major RFID technologies.
SHD: Which conventional tasks within operations may we see disappearing?
Tony: Automation will be a key driver in changing conventional tasks in many larger distribution centres. As it grows and develops it is clear that productivity and process will change the way of thinking inside a cube in the coming years.
SHD: What examples of excellence have you seen from your customers over the past twelve months?
Tony: We have seen many examples of excellence from customers who have identified a lean approach and walk the talk in terms of cost control and process efficiency. The challenge to help improve efficiency and productivity has gained momentum and we are experiencing an unprecedented demand to support businesses where they are focused on keeping ahead of the competition.
SHD: What are Toyota’s aspirations for 2015?
Tony: We have a clear aspiration to ensure we remain the world’s number one supplier of material handling equipment through innovation and quality which our customers recognise and demand. Whole life costs are critical to material handling equipment ownership and we are focused on a customer-first attitude to ensure productivity and reliability is unrivalled through delivering national coverage at a local level. We have had continuous growth in the UK for the last seven years and our focus is to continue that growth and deliver to our customers.
SHD: How do the categories ‘Operations Large/SME’ best match Toyota’s promotional objectives?
Tony: Our business is a holistic business catering for every type of material handling operator from one truck to infinity. Every customer however small or large deserves the same level of service and customer experience, which is why both large and small operations are critical to our success. By supporting both categories we send a clear message that we are interested in every business and nothing is too large or small for our portfolio of products and support.