TMHA's Martin Gross (left) with Digga's Micah Stevens

High-quality local machinery attachment manufacturer, Digga, has taken delivery of a new fleet of Toyota Material Handling forklifts – including eight Toyota 8FBE20 2-tonne 3-wheel and a Toyota BT RRE160M reach forklift (all electric) – to keep the heart of its material handling operations pumping at its Yatala, Queensland-based 12,500 square-metre facility.

Digga is Australia’s leading manufacturer of planetary-drive boring and trenching attachments and largest manufacturer of planetary gearboxes, which it supplies to earthmoving companies via its extensive domestic and international network of branches and dealers. The100 percent Australian, privately owned business employs over 200 staff throughout Australia and can manufacture up to 95 percent of its products in-house.

Toyota has been a proud business partner with Digga for an extensive period, supplying Toyota Material Handling equipment to it over 20 years and, in turn, specifying Digga buckets for Toyota Huski skid steer loaders.

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) major account manager, Martin Gross, said the relationship with Digga extends back nearly 30 years and reflects a key pillar of the Toyota Advantage – Tailored Business Solutions.

“We have been with Digga since its humble beginnings and watched it grow exponentially during that time to become a highly successful, state-of-the-art manufacturer,” said Mr Gross. “We have been proud to be part of its journey, to learn its business and accordingly supply TMHA equipment tailored to its production needs.”

The latest example of this is the delivery of eight Toyota 8FBE20 2-tonne 3-wheel forklifts that best suit the constricted operating areas created when extra storage was squeezed out from a factory rebuild.

“The 8FBE three-wheelers have a remarkably tight turning circle, with the 2-tonne 8FBE20 model being able to operate in narrow aisle widths, so are perfect for that environment,” said Mr Gross.

“After consulting with TMHA, Digga also specified that the last of their gas-powered forklifts be replaced with battery-powered equivalents.

“The battery technology has improved a lot, they’re a lot more versatile these days, so Digga could see the sense in upgrading from gas to electric, thereby also reducing emissions.”

The specified forklifts also had to stand up to some necessarily tough treatment by Digga’s operators. “They work them hard. They’re packing up hard and tough things all the time. It’s not just biscuits off a shelf.”

Digga marketing manager, Lionel Smitka, agreed that the Toyota forklifts are in constant use throughout the factory. “It’s not like they just hop on a forklift when it’s intermittently needed, we have dedicated material handlers whose job is to be on a forklift all day long so you rarely see one sitting still,” Mr Smitka said. “They are really put to work.”

Mr Smitka explained Digga’s system of work: “We use the Toyota forklifts to transport our materials, which are very heavy. About 80 percent of our products are produced from raw material, all the way through. So we get daily deliveries of steel such as flat plate steel down to tube steel – 150 to 200 tonnes-worth a month – and need to take that off the trucks, put it through our manufacturing facilities, put the finished products on shelf, ready to be picked and shipped out. All done through forklift work. We use the forklifts to load two to three semi-trailers-worth of attachments, every day.

“Our Toyota forklifts are at the heart of our production so we rely heavily on them. Even with a lot of overhead- and jib-cranes, we need to combine those with the forklifts to load our laser-cutters and plasma-cutters. The cranes alone are not enough for us because of the volume of material and product going through the factory. It’s like a highway of forklifts going around over here. It’s quite incredible to see.”

Digga supply chain manager, Micah Stevens, said Toyota’s reputation for durability and reliability – another tenant of the Toyota Advantage – and the proven performance of its forklifts in such a demanding working environment was a key reason for the business’ latest additions to its fleet.

“One of the reasons we have stuck with Toyota forklifts and continue to renew our fleet with them is their longevity. Absolutely,” said Mr Stevens. “They have proven to be very reliable machines over a long period of time. They go right through to their service intervals, even if they’re getting on a bit, so we get a good life out of them. The durability is fantastic.

“Because we don’t have much downtime with them, that translates to cost efficiencies for the business overall. Very few of them break down and if they do Toyota’s reps fix them up right away or provide a short-term rental in the interim.

“If something goes wrong, they sort it out. They don’t walk away, they’re shoulder-to-shoulder with you.”

Mr Stevens said the operators also appreciate the Toyota Forklifts, with the newest additions being highly sought-after. “The operators like using them because they’re practical to use. The ergonomics and drivability are fantastic. With our latest machines we literally had guys claiming them straight away and putting all their gear on them. They really look after them and treat them as their own.”

Despite the longstanding reciprocal nature of the Digga/ TMHA relationship, Mr Stevens said he would continue to choose Toyota forklifts for the business’ material handling needs. “It’s not just because they use our buckets. They’re a really good machine,” he said.

“The Toyota forks have been a contributor to our business’ success and the latest additions to our fleet will continue to be so. They’re a tool we use every day, all day, and one we have come to rely on.

“The working relationship with TMHA has been really valuable on a number of levels. They have proven to be a great bunch to deal with over a very long time. The relationship I’ve had with our rep, Martin Gross, has been fantastic. He understands how our business works and what our needs are. Also, the Toyota service people are great.

“We’ve come a long way in our partnership with Toyota and our business continues to grow. We have no reason to change that, so will be sticking with Toyota forklifts in the future. Simplistically, they’re a good machine that’s easy and safe to operate, has the features we need and doesn’t let you down.”