TCM Industrial Forklifts: Going Up Down Under

TCM has identified Australia as one of its key growth markets and will introduce a string of new and improved products to boost its already significant presence here. The company’s Regional Manager for Asia Pacific, Hiroshi Narukawa, touched on the

NTP News

TCM Industrial Forklifts: Going Up Down Under

Wednesday, 27th April 2005

Q: Where does Australia rank in your organisation?

A: Australia is an increasingly important market for TCM. Indeed, our association with Australia goes back 40 years, to 1965, when we became the first Japanese materials handling company to enter the country. Our initial focus was on Victoria and Queensland, with Japanese trading house, Kanematsu, responsible for selling and servicing the products.

We've since come a long way, more specifically in the last five years since teaming up with national distributor, NTP Forklifts Australia.

Q: How did that come about, why the move from a Japanese trading house?

A: We identified Australia as a key growth market in the Asia Pacific region and our review of activities here highlighted twin needs: national coverage and a local company that understands the local market and the local needs, speaks the local language, knows how to sell to locals and how to provide that vital after sales service.

We went looking for a partner that fitted the bill and, in NTP Forklifts Australia, found a national distributor with an enviable reputation and vast experience. The relationship commenced in 1999, with the single-minded goal of providing better products and services to customers, at time of sale and into the life of the equipment.

The relationship has worked for both companies, with sales rising to the point where we're now Australia’s fastest growing brand of industrial forklift, having lifted our market share from just one percent to around 10% in five years.

Q: To what do you ascribe your Australian success?

A: I think it’s threefold: our strategy, our products and the standing of our Australian partner.

When developing our strategy, we were realistic enough to concede that most of the metropolitan markets were accounted for, with limited opportunity to win business and grow market share. But Australia’s a big country, with many important – and certainly back then, under-serviced – regional centres. We agreed that our initial focus would be on these markets and it has certainly been a strategically sound decision. Even today, and despite our growing share of the metropolitan market, TCM enjoys great success in regional Australia.

Our products, too, have contributed. A major plus is that we manufacture only materials handling and earthmoving equipment. We understand the needs of the market, we offer perhaps the most expansive product range – currently standing at 118 models – in the industry and we are forever fine-tuning and improving our offerings to ensure reliability, easy maintenance and economical operation.

And in NTP Forklifts Australia, we have a professional partner with excellent people. The NTP team has consistently sold more than just an excellent products they've sold a solution and in doing so, have provided the level of customer service that translates into customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Q: Where do you go from here, as far as the Australian market is concerned?

A: We're committed to Australia and to delivering complete solutions to our Australian customers, even to the point of customising products.

Q: You mean manufacturing products specifically for this market?

A: While not manufactured specifically for a particular market, our standard products can be – and often are – modified and customised at the factory to meet Australian standards and requirements. These are agreed to in initial discussions with the customer and NTP officials on the ground in Australian. A recent example is the development of the FB-18-7 model specifically modified to handle the larger pallets found in Australia.

Q: So what sectors have you identified in order to grow your local market share?

A: An increasingly important sector with strong growth opportunities is the marine, transport and container handling industry. We're particularly successful in this 11-tonne to 43-tonne sector in Japan, where we hold a 60% market share. We'll employ what we've learnt at home – such as getting involved with the developers of, say, a shipping wharf, at the design stage, offering advice and recommendations for the layout of the new facility and then recommending the most suitable products for the customer.

Q: I believe I'm correct in saying your bread and butter is the entry level one-tonne to three-tonne market. What are your plans in this area?

A: That is correct. That is where most of the business is and where most of our products are. Interestingly, the fastest growing class of forklifts in the world – and in Australia – is the battery electric class. As a world and market leader, TCM is naturally at the forefront of this trend, evidenced by our recent release of a range of AC-controlled reach trucks and counterbalance units. Moreover, a family of new models is due for release over the next six to 12 months.

Q: Can you expand?

A: I wouldn't want to steal the marketing department’s thunder so can't say much more than that we'll be enhancing the successful one-tonne to three-tonne four-wheel counterbalanced internal combustion range while adding to the battery electric range. We'll also strengthen the FR VII Series of reach trucks and look to further improve travelling stability via a new antilock suspension control system and front wheel brakes and superior control and load handling thanks to an AC drive control system.

Q: More generally, what new products do you see driving TCM’s growth strategy in Australia over the next few years?

A: As I said earlier, the container handling and large capacity forklifts will enjoy added focus, with new designs and enhancements to the 11-tonne to 43-tonne range, including a new 42-tonne reach stacker, on the drawing boards.

All the machines will be fully equipped with high-tech features that respond to the increased demand for larger, heavier loading capacities at many of today’s modern harbours. Our largest current model, the 43-tonne forklift, can stack up to five loaded containers.

On a general note, our policy is to regularly fine-tune and enhance existing products and introduce new models every three years, as opposed to the industry standard of eight to 10 years. This places TCM technology at the forefront of forklifts and has been responsible for innovations such as the wide view mast and the four-directional four-wheel counter balanced forklift.

We'll continue to innovate and deliver reliable and robust forklifts that cost less to run and maintain.

Q: Finally, what changes do you envisage for materials handling in future years?

A: Materials handling will continue to evolve into something more than simply moving materials from one location to another. Yes, we'll still do that, but these days it’s systematic and value added integration between the manufacturing process and material flow that makes the difference between ordinary and optimum performance.

Our clear-cut 'Total Logistics Systema' corporate slogan promises integrated logistics solutions. TCM will continue to introduce versatile, value-added products and solutions that meet the challenges of the future.

For further information please call your TCM State Distributor on 1300 367 011 or visit

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