Toyota: New Trucks, New Plans

Aug. 1, 2001
MHM reports on a new name and a new game for this major lift truck manufacturer.

Toyota Adds to 7-Series, Maps Company’s Future

With the addition of a new line of cushion tire electric lift trucks to its 7-Series, Toyota Material Handling USA is sending a message: “The market will continue to shrink, and we’ll be one of the survivors.” The new trucks handle 6,500, 8,000, 10,000 and 12,000 pounds, and feature Toyota’s AC drive system and the System of Active Stability (SAS), which helps the lift truck operator avoid tipovers while moving and lifting loads. Toyota feels this combination of features will raise the bar for competitors looking to provide as broad a lift truck offering as possible.

At a recent press event introducing the new line, Dr. Shankar Basu, president and CEO of Toyota Material Handling USA, predicted that market consolidation will continue over the next three to five years and that environmental concerns will give electric lift trucks the lion’s share of sales compared to internal combustion engine models. Electrics now constitute 57 percent of the overall market, he said.

Brett Wood, national product planning manager, said users continue to demand smaller models that can tackle bigger loads. He noted that Toyota’s 3,500-pound-capacity electrics now have the wheelbase of its 3,000-pound-capacity models. And with DC now being converted to 3-phase AC power on the 7-Series, drive motors are now brushless, with no commutators. This means they’re smaller and require no maintenance. At the same time, Wood said, the user gets up to 40 percent more power with up to 12,000-pound gradability. With regenerative power sent back to the battery through braking, plugging and coasting, users can keep power in their lift trucks longer, adding to shift life.

Finally, with newly designed LCD digital displays, managers can program lift truck performance to the skill level of the operators. Three levels of performance can be set, depending on situational requirements: S = Savings, for longer battery life and average performance; P = Performance, for a good balance of battery life and performance, and H = High performance, for average battery life and high performance. Further, a preventive maintenance indicator will tell the operator when it’s time to service the vehicle.

Dr. Basu told MHM that with the new name, Toyota Material Handling USA, his company will start to evolve from being strictly a lift truck company to one that provides a broader range of solutions. In the future that could mean allied products such as racks, shelving and automated storage and retrieval systems.

“It’s happening in Japan, but we need to determine what customization will have to be done for the U.S. market,” he said. That evolution is starting with the addition of electric tow tractors to Toyota’s offerings. This will happen within the next two years and initially be targeted at the airline industry.

Packaging Industry News

The Institute of Packaging Professionals has named Edwin O. Landon executive director. Landon has been a part of the packaging industry’s business press for more than 20 years. In 1993 he founded Independent Publishing Company, and acquired Food & Drug Packaging magazine. IPC grew to include BrandPackaging magazine, Flexible Packaging magazine and the Journal for Packaging Professionals. Landon, Patrick M. Farrey and Robert L. DePauw will manage the daily business needs of IoPP, through the association management firm of Landon, Farrey & Associates.

The Packaging Education Forum has selected Nestlé USA Inc. as its Packaging Leader of the Year. The award recognizes Nestlé USA’s commitment to developing and commercializing innovative packaging forms with features that reflect the needs and preferences of today’s consumers.

Pack Expo Las Vegas is slated for September 10-12 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. This semiannual event, sponsored by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, will draw more than 17,000 visitors from more than 60 countries. More than 700 exhibitors have already booked 375,000 square feet in the exhibition hall. The show will co-locate with the International Exposition for Food Processors, adding another 300 exhibitors and 95,000 square feet to the event.

In addition, the Packaging Solutions Conference will feature interactive programs that encourage networking and information sharing.

For more information, including registration, visit PMMI’s special Web site,

Special Supply Chain Seminar

Logistics Execution Systems Association (LESA) will sponsor two one-day seminars this fall, the first in Cincinnati, September 12, and the second in Dallas, September 14. Focus of these events is how logistics execution systems can be a competitive weapon instead of a cost center. LESA is a product section of Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA). Keynote speakers include John Hill of eSYNCH and Art St. Onge, St. Onge Company. For more information, phone 800 643-3018 or visit

People Making News

Intermec Technologies Corp. has named Scott Medford national sales manager for its retail solutions operations. In his new role, Medford is responsible for retail solutions marketing and direct sales, retail partner business development and U.S. retail alliance initiatives.

Catalyst International Inc., supplier of supply chain execution solutions (SCE), announced the appointment of James B. Treleaven as chief executive officer and president. He assumes responsibility for the strategic direction and operation of the company. Treleaven has more than 30 years of senior management, sales, marketing and engineering experience in the applications software industry.

Creative Techniques has promoted Jeffrey Sebuck to sales manager, Southeast region, expanding its service in this growing region of the country.

The New York Academy of Sciences announced that Dr. Jerome Swartz, chairman, chief scientist and co-founder of Symbol Technologies, along with Dr. Joshua Lederberg, Nobel laureate and past president of Rockefeller University and Pfizer Inc., have been selected to receive the Eureka Awards for “groundbreaking achievements and service to society.” Swartz is credited with more than 150 U.S. patents, including those for the handheld bar code laser scanner and the laser scanner/wireless LAN-integrated mobile computer.

Companies Making News

Bengt Ljung, president and C.E.O. of Komatsu Forklift U.S.A. Inc., and Mitch Milovich, president, Linde Lift Truck Corp., headquartered in Summerville, South Carolina, have finalized an OEM supply agreement. Through this agreement, Komatsu plans to manufacture 3,000- to 10,000-pound-capacity lift trucks for Linde, which will be distributed throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

This agreement is only a portion of a larger understanding between Komatsu Forklift Limited, Japan, and Linde AG, Germany. Under this larger arrangement, Komatsu Forklift Limited intends to distribute Linde’s HST model through its dealer network in Japan. Additionally, in an effort for Komatsu to obtain more market share in the European market, Linde agrees to produce Komatsu trucks to be sold under the Komatsu name in its plant located in Bari, Italy. This global cooperation will also further benefit both companies in the areas of research and development as well as the purchasing of components.

Swisslog Holding AG, a provider of supply chain solutions, announced it has increased its holding in Wassermann AG from 20 percent to more than 50 percent. Swisslog AG is expected to fully acquire Wassermann by September 1, 2001.

Siemens Energy & Automation Inc. announced that it has entered a joint marketing agreement with bar code scanning technology company Datalogic of Bologna, Italy, through its subsidiary Datalogic Inc., Hebron, Kentucky. Under the agreement, Datalogic will become an authorized Product Partner of Siemens Energy and Automation.

Ryder System Inc., a global supply chain and transportation management company, announced that it has acquired the fulfillment operations of Inc., a Los Angeles-based provider of software for supply chain event management. Terms of the acquisition were not released.

Street Crane Co., Britain’s largest-volume crane and components manufacturer, has opened a sales office in Houston, appointing Chris Crow as sales director for the U.S. and Mexico.

Roadway Express Named Best

Roadway Express Inc. was awarded the honor of “VICS Collaborative Commerce Award for Best in Logistics 2001.” The Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Standards (VICS) association honors outstanding examples of strategic thinking and leadership, as well as utilization of Uniform Code Council and VICS standards that have resulted in continuous improvements in the supply chain.

Lost and Found

In celebration of more than 50 years of manufacturing intermediate bulk containers (IBC), Hoover Materials Handling Group has launched a contest to find the longest “living” Liquitote container still in use. The Liquitote was introduced in 1949 and, structurally, has undergone few changes. Winner of the contest will be announced in October at the 2001 Chem Show in New York. If it’s you (or your container), the prize is a weekend for two following the show, air fare and special dinner and Broadway show. Not a bad deal for turning 50. Since each Liquitote has been marked with its manufacturing date, finding the winner should be easy. Check the rules at the company’s Web site,

Robotics Industry Feels Pinch

New orders for North American robotics companies fell 36 percent in the first quarter, versus the same period last year. The slowdown in capital spending is taking its toll.

Orders declined for all major application areas, except for material handling robots used to move less than 10 pounds and those used for inspection.

It’s not all bad news. The robotics industry has a strong backlog of unfilled orders and is well positioned to ride out the economic storm.