Business is booming. Like previous years, 2007 has also been a year of profitable growth for the materials handling industry.
No doubt about it: the manufacturers of forklifts and warehouse vehicles have every reason to be pleased. The growth in sales of the previous years remains unabated.
Most suppliers of materials handling vehicles also expect positive market development in 2008.
Toyota still ranks as No. 1 in the list with a turnover of 5,254 billion euros (190,000 produced units).
No other manufacturer produces and sells more materials handling vehicles than the branch leader from Japan. The company aims to significantly increase its share of the German market.
In second position is Kion with the materials handling brands Linde, Still and OM. No change here either.
The third and fourth positions are held by Nacco (Yale, Hyster) from the USA and Jungheinrich from Germany, respectively.
The fifth and sixth positions have seen a change: Crown is now ahead of MCF. The acquisition of Atlet by the MHV business segment of the Nissan Group has also caused a stir.
Toyota looks set to remain uncontested at the No. 1 position in the list of the most successful forklift truck manufacturers for some time to come.
Not even the mighty Kion Group, who apart from owning Linde, Still and OM also has shares in Komatsu, seems able to change this.
For the Japanese giant (36,000 employees) is confident of the following: learning from Toyota means learning to be a winner.
Toyota’s unwavering self-confidence is based on their unshakeable belief in their own potential.
While other manufacturers try to discourage visitors from visiting their factories and would even like to go as far as making taking photos a punishable offence, Toyota has no problem in showing delegations from the competition around their production plants.
“We always have to keep one step ahead of the competition anyway,” as one high-ranking manager at Toyota explains.
The Japanese secured themselves a clear edge over the competition with the introduction of the Toyota Production System (TPS).
TP5 is designed to make production more efficient by eliminating problems and continually implementing improvements.
This ensures the perfect production process. After universities started teaching their students about TPS efficiency, the production system created by Toyota was copied throughout the business world.
One of the key terms in the TPS is waste.
Eliminating waste — be it in terms of time, material or human resources — is a key objective.
An objective which has recently been pursued more actively at Linde, a competitor of Toyota. Even Jungheinrich (No. 4 in the world ranking list) uses a parallel system to the Toyota Production System.
The Hamburg-based MHV specialists are organizing their production according to the JPS (Jungheinrich Production System).
However this does not change the fact that Toyota sells more motorized materials handling vehicles than any other manufacturer.
When it comes to explaining this success, Matthias Fischer, German Head of MHV at Toyota, points out the helpful acquisition of BT by Toyota in 2000, but also lists concepts like “Quality”, “Reliability”, “Safety”, “Innovation” and “Environmental Compatibility”.
He makes no secret of the fact that units with these characteristics deserve a greater market share in Germany.
In the long term (significantly more than five years), the managing director of Toyota Material Handling Deutschland is aiming for a market share of 20 per cent.
Not that this means that Fischer is unhappy with the current development.
In view of the past fiscal year (2006), the former Board Member of Jungheinrich (a competitor of Toyota) says incoming orders and profit have improved significantly compared with the previous year.
As regards the current fiscal year: “Better than expected,” he says.
“We expect that the market volume will continue to grow.”