Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) has partnered with National air-conditioning manufacturer, ActronAir, to help plan the material handling requirements and provide equipment for its new Marsden Park, New South Wales, warehouse.
A pair of Toyota BT Vector VCE150A turret trucks are at the heart of a new 21-strong all-electric fleet of Toyota Material Handling equipment chosen by ActronAir for the new expanded warehouse and distribution facility.
Renowned for its energy-efficient products, ActronAir started as a family business in a garage in Winston Hills 34 years ago and has grown to have branches throughout Australia. It remains 100 percent Australian-owned.
ActronAir national warehouse and logistics manager, Mark Horan, said the need for a new headquarters and accompanying equipment rose from the business' constant growth.
"Our old site was opened at Bella Vista 15 years ago. "With double-digit growth in manufacturing over six of the past eight years, we have grown quickly and remain focused on being a superior heating and cooling solutions brand.
"Our new warehouse at Marsden Park is 2.5 times the size of our old one, but even with the new 25,000 square-metre facility we still needed to use the space as efficiently and productively as possible.
"We knew of course that to squeeze out every bit of usable warehousing space we needed very narrow aisles and to rack as highly - as safely - possible. However, our business is quite unique in that a lot of our air-conditioning equipment is custom-made and requires non-standard pallet sizes and storage racks."
Accordingly, ActronAir sought a material handling partner with reputation and credentials to advise on the specialised equipment required to meet its goals. "One of our key values is ease-of doing business, it's in our mission statement and one of the things we hang our hat on," he said.
"We found with Toyota there was a meeting of minds. Nothing was a problem, they are easy to deal with and we had good, clear communication both ways. It was important to have a like-minded partner with similar values."
Unusually, the Toyota BT turret trucks and other Toyota Material Handling equipment was specified and optioned before any ground was broken to build the warehouse.
"Unlike other places where you design and build your storage system and then put in your material handling equipment, we went the other way around," said Mr Horan. "The detailed design for the warehouse was set around the capabilities of the equipment. So the Toyota turret trucks did help optimise the warehouse design."
With tight and accurate turning between aisles, the Toyota BT Vector VCE150A turret trucks bring full very narrow aisle (VNA) functionality in an extremely compact footprint, and have a choice of chassis and cab widths.
Toyota Material Handling Australia major account manager, Michael Marks, said that the collaborative process with ActronAir is an excellent example of a key pillar of the Toyota Advantage - Tailored Business Solutions - being put into practice. "We pride ourselves on the flexibility we can provide our customers and in the case of ActronAir many things were highly specific to its business," said Mr Marks. "The individual approach we take to providing tailored business solutions equates to substantial reductions in operating costs through greater efficiencies. We're actually very proud of being able increase productivity for our customers."
Putting the Tailored Business Solutions Toyota Advantage into effect in this instance required a considerable amount of data capture, analysis and technical programming. "Ensuring the most appropriate and efficient specifications for ActronAir's warehousing needs required a lot of data collection," Mr Marks said. We had multiple technicians on site on many occasions - and our programmers working behind the scenes to ensure the dimensions were down to the millimetre."
Another example of TMHA's Tailored Business Solutions in practice included arrangements for ActronAir to experience its turret trucks operating first-hand at another Toyota BT turret truck customer's site.
Oz Design Furniture, granted ActronAir a visit to its nearby Rouse Hill site. "That was especially useful because given the varied nature of their products they also used non-standardised sizes," said Mr Horan.
"Their operation was quite similar to what we had in mind in terms of a VNA distribution centre. Experiencing that first-hand and seeing how it could practically benefit our business was pretty cool and very generous of Oz Design. It was a big plus for us."
In another display of putting the Toyota Advantage of Tailored Business Solutions to work, Michael Marks said TMHA also departed with convention to assist ActronAir in meeting the warehouse's go-live date. "The Toyota turret trucks were already on order but the roll-out was tight, so rather than take delivery of them at our Moorebank headquarters, as usual, we assembled and configured them on site at ActronAir to get them operational as quickly as possible," said Mr Marks.
Now that the Toyota turret trucks are running, Mr Horan said his operators enjoy driving them. "Our guys love them. They appreciate their ease-of-use and efficiency, they think they're really stylish and sophisticated.
"They also know that every time they need one it's going to be ready for work. The value of reliability can't be underestimated in our business."
Other Toyota Material handling equipment specified by ActronAir includes: 12 x Toyota BT Reflex RRE160H high reach forklift trucks; five x OSE120CB low-level ride-on pallet-runner/order-picker; one x 8FBJ35 and one x 8FBN30 counterbalance 4-wheel forklifts.
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