Using intelligent automation and waste elimination to drive efficiency in material handling

In the modern world businesses face numerous challenges, including increasing customer demand and greater competition. It is therefore more important than ever for businesses to have an approach to drive efficiency in their operations and ensure customer satisfaction. One such approach is Toyota Lean Logistics Management (TLLM).

Developed when Toyota established the concept of lean manufacturing with the Toyota Production System, the TLLM approach focuses on continuous improvement in a business. TLLM incorporates two key concepts: Jidoka, a form of intelligent automation, and Just-in-Time, which focuses on eliminating waste in manufacturing processes and encouraging efficiency.

Although a product of lean manufacturing, TLLM extends beyond the realm of manufacturing and is applicable to businesses in various sectors. TLLM’s primary goal is to ensure that waste is minimised in all business operations. But implementing TLLM also drives the profitability of a business, by looking at ways to provide the highest quality products at the lowest cost and in the shortest time possible. Adopting the concept of TLLM helps businesses to think differently about their operations.

“Imagine TLLM as a house, with its roof symbolising business goals. You need to have the walls, pillars and a solid foundation to make sure that the house is in order. TLLM provides the components to build a strong house for your business to be sustainable and effective in the long term,” says Vuyokazi Bangazi, National Sales Manager for Toyota Material Handling, a division of CFAO Equipment SA that sells forklifts and value added solutions.

“Toyota Material Handling can assist our customers to implement the concept of TLLM in their business. Combined with the premium brand equipment that we provide, this collaboration will empower our customers to outshine their competition,” says Bangazi.

One of the important components in TLLM is the implementation of 5S, which includes the pillars or principles of sorting, setting order, standardisation, sustaining and shining. This system ensures that the workspace is clear, organised, and efficient, contributing to the overall effectiveness of a business.

TLLM also recognises and addresses seven types of waste, known as Mudas, that can hinder business efficiency. These include overproduction; waiting or time on hand, including machine downtime and waiting for materials to arrive; excess inventory or information, for example paper archiving; and unnecessary transportation or bad timing in the movement of goods. Further Mudas include motion inefficiencies, processing errors, and making defects.

Implementing TLLM requires a strategic approach, starting with the foundational step of 5S implementation. Once this foundation is laid, businesses can move on to addressing the seven Mudas, identifying and addressing these wasteful elements to streamline their operations and maximise profitability.

In the pursuit of customer satisfaction, TLLM plays a crucial role. By eliminating waste and inefficiencies, TLLM contributes to quicker response times, improved customer experiences, and maximum uptime. The symbiotic relationship between efficiency and customer satisfaction creates a positive feedback loop, fostering sustained success.

“Toyota Material Handling takes the standard TLLM concept and personalises the approach for each customer’s area, expertise and production. We tailor make a solution based on our customer’s specific needs, no matter the type of business or in which industry they operate,” says Bangazi.

One of the remarkable aspects of TLLM is its universal applicability. While it originated in the manufacturing sector, its principles can be seamlessly applied to diverse industries, including retail, logistics, and warehouses. The simplicity and effectiveness of TLLM make it a versatile tool for companies seeking to optimise their operations regardless of their sector. By aligning with global TLLM standards, companies can benchmark themselves against industry leaders and continuously strive for improvement.

Toyota Material Handling has embraced TLLM for years, and we have a specific strategy in place to elevate its implementation in our company by 2025. By measuring our performance against global standards and benchmarking ourselves against our peers, Toyota Material Handling continuously strives for improvement,” says Bangazi. “Also, part of our strategy for the year ahead is to exceed our customers’ expectations, and TLLM will play a crucial role in solidifying our relationships with our customers.”

TLLM is not merely a business strategy; it is a phenomenon shaping the way organisations operate and strive for excellence. TLLM plays a pivotal role in refining business operations by fostering a culture of continuous improvement. By identifying and addressing inefficiencies and waste, it allows organisations to enhance productivity and reduce costs. As the journey continues, the TLLM phenomenon promises to redefine the landscape of business operations, creating a more streamlined, effective, and customer-centric future.