Frank Hasleden – logistics solutions manager at Toyota Material Handling UK – explains how the firm is supporting manufacturers as they begin to automate their processes.
Making the move to implement automation in materials handling is a challenge for many companies that operate forklift trucks and warehouse equipment.
Although automation offers many advantages in terms of cost savings and efficiency, many companies are still unsure about how automation could work in their operation and the support available to them from traditional materials handling suppliers.
Toyota Material Handling UK has an experienced Logistics Solutions team that will provide support for companies that can benefit from its growing range of automated products.
The logistics solutions team is responsible for managing automation products and projects.
This includes established solutions like the BT Radioshuttle high density storage plus new developments in semiautomatic VNA trucks and BT Autopilot automated warehouse trucks.
The team combines members with a long experience in materials handling, racking solutions and engineering, and is able to help companies understand the benefits automation can bring to their business and provide them with support from initial concept through to full installation.
Frank Hasleden, Logistics Solutions manager comments, “We notice now that more and more distribution businesses are looking at automation right through the whole retail supply chain, but a lot of the activity is still focused further up the supply chain – manufacturing, primary distribution and food manufacturing because these operations have more experience in this area.
“Retail distribution is also a very amenable environment for automatic trucks – the technology has progressed to the stage where you have ‘mix-and-match’ automatic trucks in a manual warehouse with manual trucks as well.”
The Toyota Logistics team is focused on providing support for three different automation products: the BT Radioshuttle high density storage system that combines specialised racking and the fifth generation shuttles; the latest VNA trucks with Zoning and Positioning (ZAP) technology, which uses RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) to accurately position trucks in an aisle; and the BT Autopilot automated warehouse that can help to increase efficiency in replenishment and picking.
Hasleden adds, “Automated warehouse trucks have been around for many years, and the perception of them is that they are highly bespoke specialist machines that are complex and difficult to support because they use specialised support remote from the customer.
“Our philosophy at Toyota is totally the opposite. Our BT Autopilot system is a standard fork lift truck that drives itself – it just takes the operator away. Most of our Autopilot solutions look like and drive like conventional fork lift trucks and can also be driven manually like a fork lift truck”.
The Logistics Solutions team is working with a number of companies, from across a number of different industries, including manufacturing to drive forward automation in materials, to help them to improve productivity and efficiency using the latest technology.