THE LATEST INDICATION THAT THE MATERIAL
handling industry is being radically reshaped by the explosion in e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment activity came Feb. 2 when Toyota Industries Corp. (TICO)
announced the launch of Toyota Advanced Logistics
Solutions (TALS). The new division, which is separate from
Toyota’s existing forklift business, will sell integrated automation and productivity solutions to material handling and
logistics markets in North America.
To provide the foundation for that business, TICO
acquired Indianapolis-based systems integrator Bastian
Solutions LLC, which specializes in
material handling automation, robotics, warehouse execution and management software, and industrial controls.
The company will retain its name and
will continue to be led by CEO Bill
Bastian II and President Aaron Jones.
Michael B. Romano has been named
president and CEO of TALS. Romano
will resign from his position as president and CEO of Chicago-based Associated Integrated
Supply Chain Solutions. Associated, a lift truck dealer for
The Raymond Corp. of Greene, N.Y., also provides other
types of warehouse equipment as well as facility and dis-tribution-network design, labor-management engineering,
systems integration, and aftermarket services. Romano
will sell his majority ownership in Associated to Raymond,
which is a minority stakeholder.
Toyota’s decision to create TALS was inspired in part by
Associated’s 2013 acquisition of systems integrator Peach
State Integrated Technologies, Romano said in an interview.
Because Raymond is owned by Toyota, Associated has a
longstanding relationship with the Japanese industrial giant.
“Toyota became interested in the drivers for that acqui-
sition—the current and expected growth of e-commerce
combined with labor shortfalls,” Romano said. “The dis-
tribution model needs to change to accommodate e-com-
merce, which is labor-intensive because you’re handling
eaches. But the labor force is not available for that, so many
companies are looking to automate.”
TICO’s strategy is similar to that of rival lift truck vendor
Kion Group AG of Heusenstamm, Germany, which paid
$2.1 billion in 2016 to buy Atlanta-based systems integrator
Dematic Corp. At the time, Kion said it planned to become
a “one-stop supplier for intelligent supply chain and automation solutions.” In December, Kion said it would create a
Supply Chain Solutions business unit comprising Dematic;
Belgium’s Egemin Automation, a provider of automated
guided vehicles that it acquired in 2015; and Retrotech, a
U.S.-based systems integrator, which Kion acquired in 2016.
In 2016, Honeywell International Inc. acquired
Intelligrated, considered to be Dematic’s primary competitor, for similar reasons. Mason, Ohio-based Intelligrated’s
warehouse execution system (WES)
software and order fulfillment technologies will complement Honeywell’s
mobile computers, auto identification,
and voice automation product lines,
Morris Plains, N.J.-based Honeywell
said at the time.
MORE CONSOLIDATION AHEAD?
Romano said more acquisitions will
follow Bastian’s, and that TALS “will not necessarily” compete with Associated and Peach State. One of his responsibilities, he added, is to “assess, organize, and then to align
all current competencies in this space within the Toyota
enterprise. We will take people who are doing [the kind
of services TALS will provide] today and try to assimilate
those competencies under the TALS umbrella,” he said.
Given Toyota’s objective of being the number one player
in every space it competes in, Romano added, he expects
TALS will have the resources needed to become the global
leader in comprehensive material handling solutions.
In a separate interview, Brett Wood, president and CEO
of forklift company Toyota Material Handling North
America (TMHNA), said he expects to see more consolidation in the North American material handling segment.
In addition to domestic match-ups, the rapid growth in
demand for e-commerce fulfillment and integrated material handling solutions could also attract big players from
Europe, China, and Japan, who may seek to get into those
markets by acquiring or partnering with systems integrators, he said.
Toyota enters brave new world of
integrated fulfillment solutions