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INSIGHT - New IT System A Big Win For Our Customers

By Steve Takacs, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Toyota Material Handling Australia

 

Ongoing controversy about the service efficiency of Australia's NBN highlights both the opportunities and risks that exist in the roll-out of new IT systems.

Even the best intentioned and most needed IT improvements are going to have some installation challenges and attract a degree of comment from detractors. That's to be expected. 

Here's something I've learned from the automotive industry. The first new model off the production line should be as good as the last of the old model. 

It seems counter-intuitive: surely the new model should be better. 

But please think about it. The new model might have a lot of new features, but in manufacturing terms it's a big ask to be able to build it to the same quality standards as the previous model that fits the production line like a glove.

So to be able to introduce the new model without any loss of quality is a big achievement. 

That's what TMHA has just done with the roll-out of its hugely improved Infor M3 IT system.

We pressed the start button on April 6 - 18 months and maybe 5,000 work hours after our in- house IT team began the process of building a company-wide IT system purpose-designed for our unique Australian market.

 And outside our company, amongst our customers, nobody noticed. 

That's what we wanted - a completely seamless introduction that will deliver major but largely invisible customer benefits. 

They'll get their forklifts serviced even more efficiently, they'll find their financial dealings with us are faster and even more precise. We'll know more about their requirements and we'll be even better equipped to meet them. 

The major upgrade came in two forms. Firstly, we introduced tablet technology to our field staff. More than 300 computer tablets have been issued to service and sales personnel so they can better help their customers.

The tablets give field service staff immediate access to service history, service manuals and to each other so they can compare notes and experiences. They log all work and make management of customer communications so much more efficient.

Secondly, we took a perfectly good global IT system, regarded as the best in our industry, and made it even better for Australia.

Since TMHA began direct sales and service distribution eight years ago, we've been using a system designed specifically for Toyota Material Handling in Europe. We've been working around certain Euro-centricities like cross-border currency and legal requirements.

Australia should be simpler than that so our new Infor M3 addresses the exact requirements of the Australian market, taking into account our unique mix of multiple brands, models and service offerings, including Business Class Trucks.

It's taken a bit of learning internally. There are new systems and changed protocols, but it's settling down nicely without external concern. My thanks go to our general manager IT David Lloyd, his team and everyone at TMHA for that.

The best part of the new system is that it can now be regularly upgraded without being tied to Europe.

The Japanese call this process 'Kaizen', the art of continual improvement. M3 stands for Make, Move and Maintain. It's a perfect description of what we do in our business. 

TMHA's new IT system represents a big win our customers