Features

How Toyota is revolutionising the potato industry

Man driving Toyota forklift

Leading potato supplier Beta Spuds has made the move to invest in reliability by purchasing nine new Toyota forklifts. MHD talks with Matthew Cocciolone, CEO at Beta Spuds, to discuss why they decided to transition away from a rental model.

One of Western Australia’s largest “paddock-to-plate” potato suppliers, Beta Spuds, has made a large investment in improving its production reliability by outright-purchasing nine new Toyota forklifts.

Located in the Perth suburb of Mandogalup, Beta Spuds – one of Western Australia’s largest potato suppliers – purchased seven 32-8FG20 and two 32-8FG30 Toyota forklifts in December 2020. The purchase was the company’s first move away from a rental model after 27 years, in a bid to improve its production reliability.

Reliability is particularly important for Beta Spuds, given that it prides itself on a rapid production and delivery turnaround to ensure only the freshest potatoes are for sale – delivering spuds from its farms to store in less than 12 hours.

Matthew Cocciolone, CEO at Beta Spuds, says that when considering new forklifts, reliability was top-of-mind. 

“That hadn’t been the case, previously,” he says. “When we were reviewing the different forklift vendors, our guiding principle was that we absolutely needed reliable equipment. So, we decided it was time to invest in equipment we could rely on performing consistently, with no downtime.”

In the process of considering different forklift brands, Beta Spuds uncovered a truth – that price doesn’t necessarily equate to value.

Danny Carbery, area sales manager at Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA), says Beta Spuds was initially just looking at costs. 

“To begin with, Beta Spuds were very price-orientated,” he says. “Given this was the first time they had purchased forklifts outright, they realised that the reliability and longevity of our forklifts was going to be a big factor in their return-on-investment. There were a lot of forklifts in the purchase so it was a big investment and they needed to make sure they were going to get the best value out of them over their life cycle.

“Also, they wanted to know that if they were going to hang on to them for, say, 10 years then they would still be able to recoup some of their investment in the form of resale value.

“Because they were so keen on making sure the equipment wouldn’t break down, they also wanted a fairly strict servicing regime put in place to ensure we were on top of things before anything could go wrong.”

Danny says Toyota’s proven reputation for manufacturing forklifts that last the test of time is one of the key tenets of the Toyota Advantage. 

“We call it ‘QDR’, which is short for quality, durability and reliability,” he says. “Toyota has a highly refined production control system that stops production immediately when a problem occurs, thus preventing defects and producing high-quality machines. When you buy one of our forklifts you know it’s not going to let you down.”

Beta Spuds’ Matthew says during his due diligence process, servicing was heavily factored into the equation. 

“We ran the numbers and realised that it was not only the forklifts’ purchase price and lifecycle that we were interested in, but also the servicing frequency and cost,” he says. “We compared that to the cost of our previous forklift downtime and that became a big part of our purchasing decision. A strict servicing schedule combined with quality equipment was our insurance against suffering any further down time. Also, ideally we wanted the servicing with a single vendor in order to secure the most efficient visitation cycle.

“And, yes, residual resale value was a consideration. At the moment our plan is to put the Toyota forklifts to work and work them as seamlessly and for as long as practical in order for us to recover our investment in them. But resale is definitely a contingency and knowing Toyota forklifts have a high resale value was certainly another factor in our purchasing decision.”

Danny says TMHA’s Nationwide Parts & Service is another feature of the Toyota Advantage. Its factory-trained technicians are equipped with the latest diagnostic equipment. This ensures fast, accurate diagnosis and they carry an extensive range of genuine Toyota spare parts to maximise equipment up-time.

Matthew notes that an investment in nine Toyota forklifts was a large one for the business.

“We had never gone in the outright-purchase direction before, so for us to buy such a large number of machines at once was a big step,” he says. “When you’re paying for a piece of equipment up-front there is an element of risk associated with it so we did everything we could to mitigate that risk through our due diligence process. We wanted to be sure to have confidence in the ability of the forklifts to last a long time, and there’s no doubt Toyota’s reputation for longevity played into the purchasing decision.”

TMHA’s Danny says another contributing reason for the forklift’s purchase was the Federal Government’s generous Instant Asset Write-Off scheme which allows for eligible businesses to claim an immediate deduction for the business portion of the cost of an asset such as a Toyota forklift.

Matthew says Beta Spuds has a long history of innovating with technology designed to streamline the process of delivering fresh potatoes as quickly and efficiently as possible. Beta introduced the first-ever wash-packer with vibrating screen-sizer to Western Australia in 1996. The following year, the company was the first in WA in the potato industry to be quality-assured SQF2000. In 2010, it became WA’s first, and then only, four-stage washing process with a hydro-cooler.

It’s unsurprising, then, that the business capitalised on the opportunity to provide all its new forklifts with Toyota’s I_Site telematics system, which helps fleet and logistic managers to understand vehicle status, driver performance and overall productivity in their material handling operations.

Matthew says the I_Site system dovetailed perfectly with Beta Spuds’ technological ideology. “It made sense because we wanted to be able to have better visibility of our operations and the I_Site system captures highly useful data in that regard,” he says.

“Our approach is to design-in or engineer our success so the I_Site system was a logical extension of that ideology. We knew the data and the visibility of what the forklifts and operators are doing would be beneficial for the business.

“The I_Site system was implemented to specifically suit our production process and in combination with other factors it is a contributor to reducing our operating costs.” 

For more information on Toyota freecall 1800 425 438 or visit www.toyotamaterialhandling.com.au

For more on Beta Spuds, click here.

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