496: Talking Innovation with Brett Wood of Toyota Material Handling

Live from Modex 2024, The New Warehouse Podcast welcomes back Brett Wood, President and CEO of Toyota Material Handling North America. This insightful discussion dives into the transformative trends within the material handling industry, showcasing Toyota’s leading role. The conversation highlights key innovations, technological advancements, and industry shifts, mainly focusing on automation and electrification.

Accelerating Automation in Material Handling

Automation stands out as a pivotal trend, as Wood notes, “Automation comes to mind as one of the key topics… technology is getting so much better at automating vehicles, forklifts, AMRs no matter what the size is.” This surge in automation is primarily driven by a workforce shortage, prompting a shift towards automated solutions. Wood explains the increasing integration of technology in everyday operations, illustrating its potential to reshape the industry landscape by enhancing efficiency and reducing reliance on human operators.

The Material Handling Shift to Electrification

While the automotive sector lags, electrification is rapidly transforming the material handling sector, as noted by Wood, with a significant uptick in electric forklifts. “66% of what was sold last year was electric,” he states, highlighting a distinct move away from traditional combustion engines. This transition is not only a response to environmental concerns but also influenced by regulatory changes, such as those in California, pushing the industry towards cleaner, sustainable technologies. Wood’s commentary underscores the broader implications of electrification, from operational changes to new regulatory landscapes.

Emphasizing Sustainability and Safety in Material Handling

Sustainability and safety are integral to Toyota’s strategy, reflecting broader concerns across the industry. Wood shares insights on the company’s initiatives, like installing solar panels and emphasizing safety in every aspect of operations. “Safety needs to be part of a corporate culture… We start every meeting at Toyota no matter the topic, safety first,” Wood emphasizes. 

Wood also shares Toyota’s new collision avoidance system, SEnS+ Smart Environment Sensor Plus™. Toyota’s comprehensive approach improves compliance and enhances operational efficiency. It also serves as a recruitment and retention tool, appealing to a new generation prioritizing corporate responsibility.

Key Takeaways:

  • The push towards automation and advanced technologies is reshaping material handling.
  • The electrification of forklifts is gaining momentum and is driven by market trends and regulatory measures.
  • Toyota’s commitment to sustainability and safety sets industry standards that influence current operations and future directions.

Listen to the episode and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Guest Information

For more information on Toyota Material Handling, click here.

To connect with Brett Wood on LinkedIn, click here.

Check out the content below for more information about the material handling industry. 

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491: Embracing Human-Centric Supply Chains with Alcott Global

490: Addressing Warehousing Labor Challenges with Inviscid Consulting

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© The New Warehouse.
All rights reserved.