Coming up with the newest high-tech gadget is one thing. To be successful, you have to get it to market. That is where a partner like JIT Transportation comes in. JIT is a freight forwarder and third-party transportation provider that also offers warehousing and distribution services.
The company has 120 over-the-road trucks in its fleet as well as some 200 trailers to reach locations up and down the West Coast. It operates facilities in Reno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles as well as a Silicon Valley facility in Milpitas, near San Jose.
The Milpitas operation encompasses 600,000 square feet and handles products from about 100 different customers. These goods reflect what's commonly produced in the area – electronics, computer products, solar panels, inverters, and computer racking as well as clothing, shoes, and other consumer goods. The facility operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
JIT now relies on Toyota forklifts to keep these products moving throughout its buildings. A combination of propane and electric forklifts do most of the heavy work, while powered and manual pallet jacks perform much of the loading and unloading of trailers. However, the movement of goods inside this facility was not always smooth.
"Our relationship with JIT started back in 2013," recalls John Sullivan of Toyota Material Handling Northern California. "Originally, we were invited on site to do an analysis of their fleet. We noticed that they had a wide range of equipment, causing increased maintenance and downtime, along with rising costs."
"We were running older equipment," David Butcher, general manager at JIT, explains further. "We were buying used equipment and were dealing with a lot of rentals, which is also used equipment. But we had a lot of downtime, a lot of problems with the lifts. And so we decided to make a move to go with Toyota. The bottom line for us is the dependability of Toyota. The service is phenomenal, and support is just a phone call away."
As a third-party logistics service provider, JIT has a variety of products it must handle in a lot of different ways. The 33 forklifts in JIT's fleet are new vehicles matched to perform the various duties customers demand. Many of the moves involve cross-docking products to and from trucks. Propane forklifts are employed for a lot of these heavy duties, as they provide abundant power and run times that can stretch around the clock without the need to recharge. End-Controlled Rider electric pallet jacks with extended forks also shuttle pallet loads between trucks. The long forks can easily transport more than one pallet at a time.
Within the storage rack areas, workers handle everything from pallets to pieces. Three Toyota electric reach trucks enable drivers to access the highest rack positions. Nine Toyota Order Pickers are also employed to do picking from these heights, bringing the workers directly to the products needed for selection. With the move to the new electric vehicles, JIT also switched to high-efficiency opportunity charging. Butcher says that change has reduced his electric bill by 25 percent. "We are in the Silicon Valley, so we want to be green."
Toyota Material Handling Northern California also assures that these vehicles keep running in top condition. "We put them on what we call a silver maintenance contract, and we charge them by the hour," explains Sullivan. "What JIT is paying for their fleet is directly in line with their usage."
That is an advantage for JIT, as it assures cost certainty while still providing excellent service. "We're a medium-sized company bidding up against some of the larger companies in this industry," says Butcher. "Part of what makes our company attractive to customers is our flexibility. I am not sure we could offer that without the flexibility that Toyota has provided to us, with the forklift products and their financing. It's why we have been able to expand our fleet."