Michael Field has over 25 years of experience managing engineering and operations groups at industrial companies. He is currently president and CEO for The Raymond Corp., where he oversees operations, sales and marketing, engineering, and administrative functions. Since joining Raymond in 2004, Field has served as the vice president of engineering and, most recently, president of operations and engineering. As Raymond is part of Toyota Material Handling North America (TMHNA), he is also a member of the TMHNA executive team and board officer of several TMHNA legal entities.
Prior to joining Raymond, Field worked at Brooks-PRI Automation, a manufacturer of robotic automated guided vehicles and software control solutions. He is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he currently serves as a member of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council and as a member of RIT’s President’s Roundtable. Field received the Kate Gleason College of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2018–2019. He also earned an MBA and a Master of Science degree in manufacturing engineering from Boston University.
Field holds a professional engineering license in New York state and has 35 patents granted.
Q: How do you view the current state of the lift-truck industry?
A: The dramatic shift in how people purchase and receive goods through e-commerce has shaken the long-standing foundation and business model of warehousing and distribution. This shift in our customers’ needs has encouraged Raymond to become a full-service warehouse solutions provider. It’s the opportune time to come up with innovative solutions to our customers’ problems and provide them with more valuable information, more predictable tools, and more capabilities. We’re also using the lens of lean management to try to identify opportunities for improvement and then deliver those solutions with the latest technology and innovation.
Q: Raymond is part of Toyota Material Handling USA. What kind of joint development projects are you pursuing with your sister companies in Toyota?
A: Raymond is a fully owned subsidiary of Toyota Industries and is part of Toyota Material Handling. The Greene, New York-based team designs and manufactures products for both the Raymond and Toyota brands for North America. We also have a global advisory board across all companies to share key learnings and innovation. All subsidiaries of Toyota also share the TPS [Toyota Production System]-based lean management DNA as we create customer solutions.
Q: You have an engineering background. What benefits does that bring in managing a company where design and engineering are so important?
A: I’m fortunate that my current role allows me to utilize both my engineering and business backgrounds. As an engineer, I’m naturally inquisitive about the details behind innovation, quality, and service, and understanding how we can deliver on those three brand principles as a corporation. It’s my job to lead the company in a way that encourages our employees to understand the basis of our customers’ problems and come up with innovative solutions.
Q: What role will information and telematics play in the future of lift-truck design?
A: I believe that innovative technologies and intralogistics solutions will continue to empower the workforce of the future to meet customer demands. Over the past 10 years, e-commerce pressures to ship products faster have increased the need for companies to optimize efficiency. To meet this demand, organizations will seek interactive training tools, like Raymond’s Virtual Reality Simulator, as well as telematics and intelligent solutions to inform customers about how to use their forklifts efficiently. Our iWarehouse platform provides those solutions, providing valuable insights into what works in a warehouse and what doesn’t. This allows our customers to improve workforce productivity and increase overall efficiency.
Optimizing facilities and technologies will take warehouse productivity deeper into the 21st century. Converting from a manual to a semi-autonomous to a fully automated warehouse requires many complex steps. While automation is certainly important to increasing efficiencies, it is not a substitute for defining and optimizing a process. Without continuous improvement tools, warehouses only create unnecessary waste when applying automation to existing inefficient processes. At the end of the day, an operator’s role and responsibilities will evolve—it will be about enabling people to do more meaningful and productive work.
Q: You work with the Rochester Institute of Technology in advisory positions. Why do you choose to do that in your spare time?
A: I am a proud graduate of RIT and have always wanted to stay connected to my alma mater. This position allows me to keep my perspective and engineering skills sharp and fresh, while also giving back to our industry. We regularly hire graduates from RIT and other technical schools. Raymond also sponsors the RIT Robotics Club and participates in the Toyota Production Systems Lab housed at RIT, which provides lean management training for students.
Raymond is also involved in the Toyota Material Handling North America (TMHNA) University Research Program, a sponsored research program created to drive the next generation of technology for the material handling industry. The mission is to encourage professors and researchers to apply their knowledge of engineering and technical fields, drawing synergies and collaboration between collegiate research and Toyota Material Handling North America.
Q: You also serve on the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST). What does that organization do, and how do you contribute to its work?
A: NY-BEST serves as an expert resource to energy-storage–related companies and organizations seeking assistance to grow their businesses in New York state and beyond. Ten years ago, I was one of the founding board members. The consortium was created in 2010 to position New York state as a global leader in energy- storage technology and serve as a resource for companies seeking to grow their businesses. Today, Raymond is one of more than 150 member businesses and contributes valuable information on the use of batteries in forklifts, as we produce, as well as maintain, hundreds of thousands of trucks every year. It is important to Raymond that we’re part of the latest generation of energy-storage technology and understand how this technology can be applied to improve the state of material handling solutions as a whole.
Q: Are there any projects or products that Raymond is working on that you wish to discuss?
A: Raymond continues to explore and innovate energy-storage solutions. The lithium-ion solutions that Raymond is focused on provide results that are better than many of the offerings that are on the market for warehousing distribution and cold storage. We see energy playing a significant role in both enabling warehousing and distribution and in helping to manage the cost structure for energy by using renewable resources to power forklifts. In 2019, Raymond partnered with Binghamton University and NYSERDA [New York State Energy Research and Development Authority] to develop and demonstrate a new energy-storage process and solution for warehouse energy management. The solution will employ solar panels, a stationary energy-storage system, and lithium-ion forklift batteries to reduce energy costs for warehouse owners.
Q: Can you share about Raymond’s lean management initiatives?
A: In our efforts to constantly seek improvement, implementing TPS-based lean management principles has been a key factor in allowing us to maximize our operations, helping eliminate wasted time and resources, build quality into workplace systems, and foster a culture of learning. Lean management is a thread that is woven through every one of the products and solutions we deliver through our sales and service centers. For example, the data created through Raymond’s iWarehouse suite of offerings is a natural fit for the continuous improvement efforts that lean management requires. We use the data collected from iWarehouse to further improve and monitor progress to better assist our customers on their lean management journey. We are always thinking of ways to run better and manage smarter with innovation, quality, and service at the forefront.