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INSIGHT - TMHA leading the charge in automated guided vehicles

By Cameron Paxton, Director Of Sales, Toyota Material Handling Australia

In recent years there has been a shift towards automating warehouse logistics via the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) instead of using conventional forklifts. The trend is driven by improved AGV affordability and shorter return-on-investment periods – plus large fluctuations in throughput demands, leading to labour issues.

More companies than ever require flexibility on their production lines as well as an efficient, measurable way to move parts and components. In the past, many companies invested in some sort of conveying system, but today the common solution is AGVs.

Toyota AGVs apply Autopilot (driverless) technology to achieve mobility in conveyance, towing, lifting, and be able to autonomously move product throughout the all types of facilities in addition to picking orders within the warehousing space. 

TMHA is working with Toyota Australia and Toyota Fleet Management to next year introduce a fleet of autonomous Autopilot vehicles into the Altona warehouse operations. Manufactured by Toyota Material Handling Europe – with programming and installation performed locally by TMHA engineers –  the fleet will consist of six Autopilot Tow Trucks (TAE500) and one Autopilot Reach Truck (RAE160).

All models in the range will also have the ability to be used in manual mode as conventional warehouse vehicles allowing complete flexibility in operations.

We recently publicly debuted our automated RAE160  Reach Truck, which went on sale in March, at Auspack 2019.

The autonomous 1.6-tonne capacity RAE160 reach forklift (also available in 2- and 2.5-tonne capacity models) features a 10-metre mast  and was specifically designed for large-scale warehouse logistics, pallet warehousing, production and manufacturing facilities.

As AGV manufacturers, TMHA has a thorough understanding and appreciation of the importance of automation technology and it dovetails perfectly with several tenets (principles) of the Toyota Advantage, including:

Tailored Business Solutions

TMHA offers customisable AGV systems and can assist you with decisions regarding the navigation method, path selection, traffic control and system options. If the operation or material flow is changed, software reprogramming can also be provided.

Toyota AGVs integrate with warehouse management systems to enable operation according to a customer's unique requirements – using a laser-based navigation system and a complex range of sensors to safely and accurately handle materials, automatically.  

The automated Toyota  – presently the only such offering in Australia. 


Many businesses inquire about an AGV due to a high level of forklift traffic in heavily populated areas, where pedestrian accidents and product damage are at high-risk.

Built with the reliability and serviceability of their manual predecessors, the new hybrids will also include integrated navigation and leading safety systems.  The safety systems include personnel protection scanners and obstacle detection devices which are designed to stop the vehicle and minimise collision risk, ensuring protection for people, equipment, and infrastructure.  Fleet Management, Emergency-Stop buttons, warning sounds, and lights will be standard across the AGV range together with a blue LED warning light projected in front of the vehicle, to assist in noisy environments or when Autopilot is approaching around a corner.

AGVs also automate the mundane tasks, which eliminates the opportunity for worker distraction, low productivity and turnover.

Lower total cost of ownership

In addition to decreasing costs associated with these areas, return on investment can be captured by eliminating purchases of additional forklifts and reducing operator expenses.

Autopilot will also deliver energy efficiencies via Lithium-Ion battery technology, automatic charging, high vehicle utilisation, and low maintenance costs.

This technology is a game-changer for AGV systems because the battery can accept a sustained high current without damage, enabling short charging between duties and/or production cycles. Lithium-Ion batteries charge much faster than traditional battery technology and are also up to 30 percent more energy-efficient, overall reducing the charging requirements quite dramatically. Also, being fully automated, our Toyota AGVs can dock and charge themselves without the need for human assistance or separate charging areas.

For more information on Toyota AGVs contact your local TMHA branch or call 1800 425 438.


Toyota's BT Staxio SAE160 AGV Autopilot Stacker