Toyota Industries Corporation improves service operations to maximize uptime for their customers

Toyota Industries Corporation (“Toyota Industries”) is Toyota group’s head company, with 90-plus years of history, and offers products that account for the world’s largest shares of the following three fields: forklifts, compressors for auto air conditioners, and air-jet looms. Toyota L&F Company, which develops, manufactures, sells, and  after-sales services forklifts, plans to improve the quality of their after-sales services by leveraging telematics and IoT for visualizing service operations. The company promotes the project and the introduction of Global Mobile Service Solutions (GMSS), together with Microsoft Enterprise Services. GMSS uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service, and with telematics linked to Microsoft Azure to improve preventive maintenance and move further towards predicting failures.

Maximize Uptime by Leveraging Forklift Data

Toyota Industries aims for further growth in the business of industrial vehicles that have grown into a business that accounts for 60% of the company’s. Mr. Michio Yonezawa, General Manager, Service Department, spoke of the significance of maximizing forklift utilization by offering after-sales services that meet the business needs of their forklift customers. “The mission of the Service Department is to improve our after-sales services and establish strong relationships with our customers, so that we can receive additional orders from them. We think that offering satisfying after-sales service ultimately contributes increase sales.”

The company wanted to offer high quality services globally, and decided to introduce Dynamics 365 for Field Service as the primary tool for managing the after-sales service skills and operations for those distributors offering services to forklift customers all over the world. They wanted to improve their operational management accuracy, shift to a paperless process, reduce man-hours, and increase efficiency. They would do this by visualizing business KPIs in digital form, and laying out a framework to help boost their strengths and compensate for any weaknesses in various regions.

Mr. Yonezawa explained the reasons for selecting Microsoft Enterprise Services as their partner in achieving their objectives, as follows. “Microsoft has many great accomplishments as a global IT company, and, above all, Microsoft Enterprise Services made an achievement to implement our systems to our European sites. In addition, Microsoft Enterprise Services not only understands the latest technologies, but they also develop systems based upon our after-sales service operations, and they provide global assistance. They will help us achieve our goal of global expansion.”

Further, Toyota Industries plans to perform maintenance prior to the occurrence of failures, which also necessitates linkage technologies between the Microsoft cloud and IoT. The company uses Azure to collect machine information of their forklifts in operation. Linking information related to after-sales service from GMSS to the machine information in the cloud is expected to assist the Service Department in performing the right maintenance at the right time, preventing forklift failures from occurring at minimal cost. “Sudden failures greatly hinder the customer’s business activities, and generate extra-budgetary expenses. Previously, we conducted regular inspections in accordance with the guidelines based on how long the machines had been operating. By leveraging the machine information collected via telematics, inspections can be carried out in response to the customer’s usage, thereby reducing their burden,” explained Mr. Yonezawa.

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Visualization of Business Operations, Improvement in Productivity, and a Shift to a Paperless Process with GMSS

Toyota Industries chose Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service – which is already in worldwide use, cooperates with the latest technologies including IoT, AI, and machine learning, and enables practical applications – to visualize and improve after-sales service operations for GMSS development. Mr. Senichiro Kondo, who directs the global expansion of GMSS as the General Manager, Overseas Service Operation, Service Department, stated the reasons for selecting a cloud-based system for improving their after-sales service operations. “Since we manage operations in countries except for Europe and North America, the cloud enables us to facilitate management in a unified manner, and lay out a framework that helps provide the same services world-wide. In addition, Toyota could differentiate itself from its competitors by being first to introduce IoT to the service operations. Our competitors have not done this yet. The Microsoft cloud meets our security guidelines and we did not hesitate at all to use the cloud.” India was selected to be the first country for the deployment of GMSS, which occurred in February, 2018. “One reason we chose to deploy GMSS to India first is that we directly manage the distributors with standard service operations and it would allow us to examine their cost-effectiveness in detail. Another reason is that, if it is proven cost-effective in India, where wages are low, we could promote the deployment of GMSS to distributors in other countries,” said Mr. Kondo.

In India, approximately 80 field service technicians had been receiving instructions on after-sales service operations in written form or manually. Technicians’ visit plans had been written on white boards, and material preparation before the visits was time-consuming. “The introduction of GMSS based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Services enabled the dispatchers to prepare and allocate instructions to give to the technicians. A mobile device app scheduled customer visits, periodical inspections and repair work for the technicians. Service reports can now be displayed on a screen, explained to the customer, signed by the customer, and submitted to the technician’s superior in a paperless stream, resulting in a significant improvement in work efficiency,” said Mr. Ryo Makino, a core member in charge of GMSS deployment in India, and Group Manager, Planning Group, Overseas Service Operation, Service Department.

Various materials, including service materials, check sheet for maintenances, and visit histories that were used to previously store in separate locations can all be accessed from mobile devices, helping reduce the time taken to prepare them before paying the customer a visit. This also made it possible to determine the exact amount of value added work time to the customer (excluding the time for making work preparations and travel, the time needed to start work after arrival, etc.), immediately perform an analysis, and make improvements to further promote the standardization of work procedures and the efficiency resulting from the GMSS deployment. Toyota Industries intends to reduce technician man-hours by 20% – 25% with this freshly deployed system in India.

“System deployment is pointless if it cannot benefit the following three parties: the manufacturer, the distributors, and the customer. This GMSS shows us a variety of statistics and enables us to be more efficient. The ideal arrangement is that the technicians that perform service operations use the GMSS, perform their jobs with greater ease, and feel happier, instead of just being obligatorily trained to reduce wasted time. This in turn improves the services we provide and makes the customers happier,” explained Mr. Yonezawa.

Promoting Expansion into Other Countries and Achieving Further Growth

GMSS will have been deployed in Vietnam by June, 2018, and then expanded into Singapore, Malaysia, South America, and Japan after that. “Nowadays, there are fewer technicians available, and more problems with an aging workforce and shortages. We want to deploy a system, and create an environment, where problems with paper are eliminated, and the work can be performed in a safe and efficient manner to attract more human resources,” said Mr. Kondo.

To conclude, Mr. Yonezawa said, “Our next goal is to achieve improved failure prediction together with Microsoft. We want to identify what makes our customers happy to tell us that choosing our service was the right idea. We also want to sample forklift data, use it to facilitate the design and development of future forklifts, and deliver better products and services to our customers.”

Toyota Industries, which has the world’s largest forklift marketshare, will continue to improve the quality of their after-sales services, and boost customer satisfaction and sales growth as it approaches the 100th anniversary of its foundation.