The digital transformation of Toyota Material Handling factory
Posted by Jonathan Travers
Harmonization of factory processes to optimize time, costs and risks. The digital transformation of a long-established forklift factory, acquired by the Japanese giant in 2000, called for total rewriting of the ERP/MRP platform to further boost productivity and quality.
Sinfo One and Toyota Material Handling Manufacturing Italy
In the Emilia region of Italy, but inside a sort of Japanese enclave set up in the industrial district of Bologna, the Toyota group makes not cars but sophisticated forklifts, also known as “smart trucks”, sold around the world with the Toyota brand (toyotaforklifts.eu). The factory that today belongs to one of the most reputable brands in the automotive sector, was founded in 1942 as part of an industrial group established after the war by a distinguished Bolognese family. For sixty years, the old CESAB was one of the leading Italian producers of forklifts, but then eventually acquired by Toyota.
"In a short time – recounts Giorgio Polonio, CEO of Toyota Material Handling Manufacturing Italy – what was once an important Italian company, capable of producing 3,000 forklifts a year, took on the Toyota brand, joining a company that in Europe alone employs 10,600 people, a third of which work in production".
This meant a completely different context, starting with the output generated: nearly six times the result achieved by CESAB at its peak. An important part of the change process that has led to collaboration with Redfaire International partner Sinfo One is definitely the approach to technology. "It all started three years ago – recounts Paola Pomi, CEO of Sinfo One – when TMHMI ordered an in-depth assessment of their ERP environment to replace a previous patchwork of solutions that seemed less and less suitable for the kind of flexibility needed today, especially in terms of harmonization inside the Toyota Production System. The software environment used up to that time carried signs of the scars caused by the different interventions made over time. And scars reduce elasticity, just like they do on our skin."
The operational mission that today is being applied on a global scale at the corporate level, is a journey that was started a long time ago by Toyota production sites. "Greater harmonization in our information systems - specifies Malservisi, IS/IT director of Toyota Material Handling Europe Supply – allows us to do better work in the direction of service objectives. Digitization can be a good lever to introduce new concepts such as Agile and other approaches". A whole set of goals that were impossible to pursue with the legacy systems of Bologna. The transformation project was started from a short list of solutions which included two ERP platforms. The final choice was Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, whose MRP (Material Requirements Planning) module is particularly well aligned with the objectives of TMHMI. The same solution was adopted by Toyota Material Handling Manufacturing Sweden, through an independent selection process. The same software was also chosen by the American Cascade, another Toyota company that produces forklift accessories.
Equally rigorous criteria guided TMHMI in the choice of a project partner. "In Sinfo One – explains Malservisi – we saw a company with an approach to business very akin to our own. A financially sound, family-run company with the corporate culture of a public company, with a large number of employees and an excellent reputation." In order to become a partner, Sinfo One had to undergo the same certification procedure that Toyota applies to its suppliers. "In the end, we certified that all the requirements were met. Including membership in the international consortium of Oracle JD Edwards consultants (Redfaire International) which followed other TICO projects at an international level (always independently)".
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