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Toyota Material handling Group is the largest forklift manufacture on Earth. It knows that the next step in forklift innovations are digital and it is working with Microsoft to ensure that these innovations are coming more sooner than later.
The forklift manufacturing division of Toyota is focusing on creating digital logistics solutions. And these digital improvements will be including artificial intelligence, mixed reality and the Internet of Things (IoT).
At the recent Hannover Messe Show in Germany, Toyota introduced a series of concepts including pre-trained, intelligent forklifts. A Toyota-made forklift that has these features will quickly learn navigation in a virtual model of a customer’s warehouse.
The ability to simulate and visualize a physical environment will help solve one of the biggest challenges in the trade: the long deployment time for customized IoT solutions. Installation of this new navigation system would commonly take six months to a year. However, using the digital solutions inspired by Microsoft, the time to develop the machine learning and digital twins (or virtual model) concepts will take significantly less time.
Once deployed, the intelligent forklifts and other automated guided vehicles (AGV) can adapt to live conditions, continually improve performance and will allow communication between forklifts in a “swarm” that will send the right truck to the right task at the right time.
In addition, Toyota Material Handling North America is working with Microsoft to build artificial intelligence algorithms with sound to evaluate and verify welding quality in the construction of lifts.
Earlier this year, the Toyota Material Handling team along with a Microsoft team worked together with welders in Toyota’s Indiana factory and recorded sound from the factory floor. Then they created a machine-learning platform to drive product quality, customer satisfaction and better training opportunities for new employees.
Toshibide Itoh, associate director and CIO of Toyota Material Handling Group, concluded, “We use machine learning and AI to do things that people cannot do by themselves, like analyze big data quickly. AI analysis can lead to new solutions and give open time for people to utilize their brain. That’s very important. So they share some work with AI and it makes everyone and everything more productive.”