Brent Light, National Brand Manager at Toyota Material Handling’s Toyota Counterbalance division and a CFAO Equipment SA business unit
Brent Light, National Brand Manager at Toyota Material Handling’s Toyota Counterbalance division and a CFAO Equipment SA business unit

The past few years have been characterised by numerous challenges that have negatively impacted the materials handling and warehousing industries. From riots and flooding in Durban, to ongoing energy challenges that have seen countless businesses struggling to keep the lights on, the outlook for the growth of the sector has, until recently, been somewhat dismal.

Fortunately, the strong resilience and agility of local industries to overcome challenges has resulted in an influx of new developments and expansions that have spurred a greater need for material handling and industrial equipment.

Reflecting on 2022, Brent Light, National Brand Manager at Toyota Material Handling’s Toyota Counterbalance division and a CFAO Equipment SA business unit, says the company has witnessed great success this year, particularly in the battery-operated counterbalance market, selling as many as 570 units.

“We have noticed a significant increase in demand for powered pallet trucks, order pickers and reach trucks. Offering our customers only the best in equipment and technology solutions has seen us achieve a 50% market share in this segment - an accomplishment we are exceptionally proud of,” adds Light.

Toyota Material Handling’s reputation as an operation that places reliability and safety first is no accident, with the company committed to reducing instances of downtime, increasing efficiency, and bolstering the overall performance of its customers’ operations. This has led to the development of several innovative technologies which feature across the company’s comprehensive and diverse range of equipment solutions.

“These include the I_Site fleet management system with pre-operation check functionality, as well as the patented System of Active Stability (SAS) that ensures optimal forklift stability and overall job site safety,” explains Louis Fourie, National Product Specialist at Toyota Material Handling. 

“At Toyota Material Handling, we continuously aim to provide our customers with tailored equipment solutions that meet their specific needs and add value. All our equipment solutions are manufactured to Toyota Production System standards and are backed with the necessary support to reduce instances of downtime,” he adds.

As businesses become more mindful of their carbon footprints, Fourie says while there is increased interest in automated guided vehicles for narrow aisle and high-density storage applications, 2023 will see a strong migration towards more environmentally friendly material handling equipment solutions, with the likes of battery-operated equipment solutions leading this move.

Vuyokazi Bangazi, National Sales Manager at Toyota Material Handling, reiterates Fourie’s sentiments, adding that battery-operated equipment solutions driven by lithium-ion batteries are not just a greener alternative to the conventional fossil fuel-driven forklifts, but offer an array of benefits that will provide customers with greater levels of efficiency than ever before.

“The use of lithium-ion batteries comes with a host of benefits, including fast charging and opportunity charging, no battery deterioration when the equipment is not in use, longer battery lifespan, real-time monitoring, enabling operators to run multiple shifts on a single battery, and no maintenance gassing or ventilation - nullifying the need for a separate battery bay,” she says.

The switch to battery-operated material handling equipment with lithium-ion batteries is undoubtedly the future of the material handling and industrial equipment industry. It ensures that customers can enjoy longer operational times and productivity while minimising downtime and eliminating the need for battery changes - all the attributes that contribute to a successful operation now and in the future.