Hard Yakka

The manufacturer of Japan’s first forklift truck and wheel loader, TCM Corporation sees itself as a company that always looks to the future.

“Materials handling is more than simply moving of goods from one place to another,” says NTP Forklift marketing manager Tom Naffine, whose company represents TCM in Australia.

“Nowadays, systematic and value-added integration between the manufacturing process and material flow is regarded as extremely important in order to achieve optimum performance.”

According to Naffine, TCM is highly focused on the real life implications of the industry, which results in a very well engineered, reliable forklift.

“TCM develops and updates forklift models at a greater rate than other brands,” he asserts.

“For example TCM has had three model changes over a ten year period in which most other Japanese forklift brands have only upgraded once.”

“TCM’s ability to develop products quickly comes down to the company’s capability to quickly observe and understand customers’ specific circumstances and worksites,” Naffine says.

Apart from the engine, TCM designs and builds its own forklifts, including masts and transmission.

TCM’s lineup of logistics equipment has won seven industry Good Design Awards.

“The company is dedicated to achieving its corporate mission of developing advanced logistics solutions based on its R&D activities,” says Tom Naffine.

“TCM works to accurately assess user needs and gather information by combining concepts from the fields of mechatronics, electronics, and ergonomics.”

Now owned by Hitachi Construction, products designed for the Australian market are robust. “Within the truck industry there’s a wide disparity of conditions,” Naffine explains.

“You might be operating in Alice Springs in dust and dirt, or in a warehouse in the city with a floor clean enough to eat off.”

“Outdoors in a transport yard, or even inside, the TCM product is a strong, reliable truck that’s engineered to a very high standard,” Naffine says.

“Large customers like Visy Board, in the tough game of recycling won’t have anything else in their seven tonne range, because everything else has failed.

TCM forklifts are also used by the Department of Defence.

Most recently, TCM has been developing and redesigning its core products such as forklift trucks and wheel loaders to meet ever changing customer needs and requirements.

Having launched the iNOMA forklift in Japan, the company has been rolling out the redesigned and upgraded 1.5 to 3.5 tonne IC iNOMA series to global markets.

Notable features include a 45 per cent increase in floor space, a substantial reduction in vibrations with the adoption of dual-floating systems for the engine and hood, and a 50 per cent improvement to visibility.

“Lowering the dashboard by 70mm and the tie bar by 190mm, provides a remarkable improvement to forward views as well as quicker recognition of the fork position,” Naffine says.

“Additionally, the rounded shape of the rear top end of the counterweight substantially increases safety when reversing.” TCM has also developed a three stage mast with a four cylinder mechanism.

By locating the cylinders symmetrically to the sides of the mast TCM has provided a three stage mast without the usual centre cylinder that often hinders an operator’s vision.

So this concept provides significant safety and operational improvements for operators.

“TCM’s traditional robust mast has been further upgraded, to minimise distortion by better positioning the mast supports and tilt cylinders.”

“The iNOMA also has a more economical cooling system with the temperature of coolant reduced by 10 degrees C compared to conventional models.”

“A one-piece floorboard allows for convenient inspection and easy maintenance, as the unit is easily detachable without any special tools.”

“The new diesel engines, while powerful are compliant with worldwide 2nd stage emission controls,” Naffine says.

With Hitachi’s acquisition of the company in 2005, TCM has increased its focus on the export-orientated nature of the forklift industry.

In Australia, Tom Naffine says NTP Forklifts has increased TCM’s market share from one to ten per cent since the 1990s.

Asked what gives NTP its leading edge, Naffine says, “Product range and depth.”

“We do rough terrain as well as the full range of forklifts up to container handlers,” he says. “So we like to think of ourselves as a one-stop shop.”

Originally Adelaide-based, NTP’s two directors grew the product from scratch and both continue to be involved in the daily activities of the company.

“As a privately owned company, we’re more flexible,” Naffine says.

“We can often get decisions through more quickly, where other companies might have to wait for a board meeting or a long approval process.”

“We’ve always prided ourselves on service,” he adds.

“We just get on to help our customers with the best solution. NTP’s service ethos and reputation continues to fly through the company.”

Naffine is coy about when the next TCM forklift model might be released, but given the company’s approach to continual development, he’s willing to say it’s not too far off.

“I’ll be very excited to see the next model,” he says, “because it’ll be the first one developed with Hitachi at the helm. It’s sure to have more improvements.”

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