Automation is the solution
Toyota Material Handling's website features a video of mountaineers ordering snacks over the internet and getting them delivered directly to a mountain top by drone.
"Consumers are the driving force behind the digital revolution. No one wants to wait, no one wants to pay," says Hans Larsson, Director Logistics Solutions at Toyota Material Handling.
Shipping and returns should be free, nothing should break and everything should be fast and preferably environmentally friendly. That's where automation and information come into the picture for achieving efficiency, he says.
"Each time someone clicks and purchases online, it drives development a little more."
Hans is responsible for the section of Toyota's forklift division that is now a separate focus area: the development of automated and connected logistics solutions. And it's located in Gothenburg. One of the reasons is human resource planning. The Internet of Things and new technology demand entirely different skill sets to those traditionally held by Toyota Material Handling.
"Those skills are found in Gothenburg. The city is without a doubt one of the world's most innovative and, moreover, has the advantage of extensive automotive industry expertise," he says.
He also feels that there is an innovation climate with comprehensive infrastructure for industrialising ideas. This helps ensure that innovations quickly reach a global market.
Innovations in a traditional industry
Logistics Solutions has launched a number of world-leading solutions for the forklift market. Whereas driverless cars must be able to take into account a variety of scenarios – such as other motorists and unpredictable traffic situations – forklifts are most often found in more controlled warehouse environments. But there are other challenges. Such as that the goods must be lifted up high, which must be done with great precision. The slightest error or production stop means delays for the customer.
Customers are often large and global companies and want solutions that work everywhere. Logistics Solutions works closely with its customers, often in pilot projects where two or three facilities are selected and get to test whether the automated forklifts work. If they do, the solutions are implemented on a larger scale. The company is also working hard to expand its role.