"We have invested heavily in new technologies in recent years, within our own teams, in our products and through collaboration with other companies" explains Ralph Cox, Senior Vice President Market Operations, Toyota Material Handling Europe. "We recognise that around 250,000 people visit Hannover to learn about future technologies, so it is a natural choice for us to move to a location within the event that makes us very easy to find – so we can share our thinking."
Toyota Village in Hall 4
Hall 4 will house exhibitors working with automation within the logistics sector and Toyota will be presenting a range of solutions in a so-called 'Toyota Village'. There are a number of key areas of focus. Ralph Cox continues: "Toyota has a well-established reputation for being the source of lean-thinking – and for us that means zero muda (zero waste). It is the foundation for everything we do, and this will be demonstrated through the stories that we share on our booth."
From a hardware perspective Toyota will be differentiating between manual, automated and autonomous machines. Autonomous concepts will be physically demonstrated, showing how machines will in future be task-driven, determining their own optimised methodology and using cameras for vision. Toyota's automated trucks will also be physically demonstrated with the focus on simplicity and ease of integration within existing logistics operations. "We believe that human resource should be used in the most valuable way – both for the company and also for the people themselves," explains Cox, "and automation is increasingly the most logical and commercially beneficial way of achieving this."
There is also a focus on how to streamline and empower manual operations through so-called 'team logistics', based on a rationalised approach that ensures the principles of 'right-truck-right-task' – in short: arranging processes in a way that uses the optimum type of machine for each stage of the process, thereby eliminating waste.
Toyota has been the first company in the industry to integrate telematics technology as standard equipment on electric warehouse trucks, announced at CeMAT in 2018. By April this year, there will be 130,000 connected vehicles. At HMI 2020 there will be a zone dedicated to connectivity demonstrating service benefits in terms of predictive servicing and augmented reality support for technicians, and how telematics data can be used to eliminate damage and increase truck utilisation efficiency - two of the major areas of waste in the logistics industry.
Environmental issues are also part of the Toyota story at HMI 2020. The company has in recent years been assembling their own lithium-ion battery cells with a unique modular design. This allows a revolution in space and weight-saving truck design, and also provides for multi-life planning, with battery cells projected to serve multiple truck lives, then being deployed to store power generated from sources such as solar panels, before being recycled. This complete energy cycle is being presented in Toyota's energy zone.
Collaboration for the Future
Another progressive element of Toyota's presence at HMI 2020 is the collaboration zone where the company will be demonstrating the way they are working with other industry leaders. These include Eneo, who are Toyota's partner for solar power, EcoVadis, Vanderlande and Bosch for consignment tracking.
Toyota Material Handling Europe hosted an event called the Logiconomi Forum in November 2019, attended by over 500 leaders from the industry, and featuring educational sessions on new collaboratively-developed technologies. The Logiconomi stage will be another feature of the company's booth in April, with a series of short briefings from Toyota and its partners.
The foundation remains as lean-thinking, with 'Lean 4.0' headlining Toyota's booth at the event. "Lean is at the heart of how we think and what we do" explains Ralph Cox. "As our customers start to embrace the benefits of digital technology within their logistics operations, we see a clear need for a lean strategy to support future planning. That's what we call Lean 4.0."