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Best Factory Awards 2014
Best Factory Awards Gala Lunch Date: 25/09/2015

17 August 2015

Meet the sponsors - Toyota Material Handling UK

Tony Wallis, Commercial Director, Toyota Material Handling UK

Why is Toyota Material Handling backing the Best Factory Awards 2015?

Why do we support the BFA awards? That's simple, it is because we believe in the awards values. The awards are not just about recognising great manufacturing companies, although they do that very well. It is also about encouraging companies to talk about their challenges and share their journeys and best practice, in order to help other manufacturing companies improve their operations. In many other industries, companies can be very guarded about their operations and how they do things, but you don't see this in the BFA, there is a real feeling of support towards all UK manufacturing companies.

It is seeing these journeys and listening to these discussions where as a sponsor we get the most value. At Toyota Material Handling UK, we have a Customer First philosophy, which means putting customers at the heart of what we do. As a provider of forklifts and material handling equipment to many manufacturing companies across the UK, understanding their operation and their challenges helps us as a supplier to see how we can support them and find solutions to help them be both safe and productive.

As the headline sponsor, we have also wanted to take the opportunity to share our experiences of the Toyota Production System (TPS) discussing concepts like Jidoka to build in quality and Kaizen (continuous improvement). We have shown how we as a sales and service organisation in the UK, have applied TPS principles in different areas of the business, from our fleet management centre where we refurbish our forklifts to our administration teams who provide after-sales and service support to thousands of customer across the UK.

I have had the great opportunity to speak to a lot of companies at the awards and at the conference, I still feel every year that I keep learning more about manufacturing and processes and new developments, and I still get to meet some great people. We are delighted to be part of the Best Factory Awards programme that celebrates great people, great processes and great companies.

You have supported the Best Factory Awards for many years, how has the BFA changed?

We have supported the Best Factory awards now for more than 10 years and the great thing about the awards is that no year is ever the same. Every year there are different companies who take part, new operational challenges and fresh ideas that are shared. The whole process including the awards and the conference programme continue to evolve and improve.

In recent years, the conference has seen the greatest change with the introduction of the conference factory tours, which provide attendees with a great opportunity to see how other companies do things. In 2014, we were honoured to host the conference alongside our colleagues at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Burnaston. It was a great opportunity to be able to show attendees TPS in practice and although they were cars and not forklifts travelling down the production line, it was a great opportunity for us to share the Toyota way of manufacturing.

The thing that doesn't change in the BFA is the high quality of the awards process. The application process is tough and companies who apply have to be really dedicated and allow the Cranfield University team to see all areas of their operation. It is this quality process that makes winning a Best Factory award so prestigious.

You work with manufacturing companies, how do they use materials handling in their operations? Is this changing?

Materials handling equipment is an integral part of any operation, to bring raw materials to the production line and collect the finished goods at the end. Similar to many industries there is now more of a focus on process and trying to be as productive as possible, but still with a strong focus on safety. More recently we have seen a lot of manufacturers looking at how they can use tow tractors and automation / semi automation be more efficient with their materials handling on the production line.

Manufacturers have always been early adopters of any automation technology, because they already have the mind set and they use a lot of automation in their business, but we being asked more and more by manufacturers to look at different logistics solutions. Automation in materials handling is a good fit with manufacturing, because there is a good crossover between the automatic product lines that produce the products and the logistics at the end of the line.

But it is not just about the type of trucks, we have seen an increase in manufacturers of all sizes requesting our truck management system to help them to manage their trucks. Our Toyota I_Site system allows instant access to truck and driver information, shock reporting, controlled driver access and automated pre-operational checks, whether a customer has one truck or a fleet of trucks across multiple sites. These features allow manufacturers to monitor their fleet and reduce damage and cost, identify areas of improvement and increase safety on their site. We are seeing an extension of the principles of continuous improvement being applied in all areas of the business.

What should manufacturers know about Toyota Material Handling UK?

Toyota Material Handling is the number one forklift manufacturer in the world and we are proud of this. I mentioned before that at Toyota we have a customer first approach, and it is this philosophy that has made us number one. We have innovative and reliable products, high levels of customer satisfaction that is driven through the efficiency of our processes and 1000 team members who are trained to focus on delivering excellence which is strengthened by the Toyota Way, a set of core values which guide our operations.

If any of you have attended one of my presentations at the BFA you will know that at Toyota we believe success is achieved through the three "P's" people, product and process, and it is these three intrinsically linked ingredients that make the difference in those that are excellent from those that are average. The product simply has to deliver what the customer expects, what it 'says on the tin'.

The process is the way the product will be delivered with a consistent approach and all of the above is achieved through your people, their leadership and making sure everyone is working towards one common goal. People hold everything together on a journey that never finishes.

What advice would you give UK manufacturers?

Henry Ford once said "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got", and I truly believe this. I think my best advice to any company would be to challenge everything you do and always look for ways to continually improve, in all areas of the business.

The Best Factory Awards give manufacturers a great opportunity to learn from the best but also see how other companies work. From the process of entering the BFA awards to attending the conference, you can get ideas from how do you motivate people to how you could change the logistics flow in your operation.


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