Interview with Kalman Tiboldi

Group Thermote & Vanhalst, TVH, is a family business founded in Belgian in 1969. It’s active in the market for forklift trucks, aerial work platforms, agricultural tractors and industrial in-plant vehicles, with customers in more than 170 countries. In addition to the equipment it also offers parts and accessories for material handling and industrial and agricultural equipment all over the world.

We recently grabbed some time with Kalman Tiboldi, Chief Business Innovation Officer at TVH, to talk about how the TVH Group is using broadband and wi-fi in the workplace.

Hi Kalman, thanks for joining us, can you give us an overview of technology in your organisation?

We have more than 150 branches all over the world, which means networks play a major part of our business. Because of that network availability and bandwidth is simply not enough, we needed to go further.

We have implemented an application aware WAN, which focuses on performance as well as visibility and security of applications and services. We chose Any-to-Any, a hybrid Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology and internet combination, along with built-in redundancy using Active/Active failover, split tunneling, local internet break-out and SIP trunking.

Back in 2004 we decided to go with Cisco technology for an integrated VOIP, which is deployed worldwide, and all major sites are covered by wi-fi which allows us to use wireless telephony and capture real-time data. The internet also plays a major role for us.

Our digital commerce platform represents more than 90% of the daily activity of the Parts Division. We have different cloud based applications and services like Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, ServiceNow, Amazon AWS, ZScaler and our collaboration platform is based on Google for Work.

With the new era of Internet of Things the role of wireless communication is growing very fast! At the moment we have more than 7000 connected machines. Gathering and validating the data produced by machine sensors, which allows us to move towards an IoT enabled intelligent fleet management system.

Wow, that’s an incredible overview! Could you explain to us a little more about how enabled intelligent fleet management benefits TVH?

Smart logistics is one of the major pillars of Industry 4.0. The material handling industry, where we operate, is continuously evolving; we see more and more of our equipment as having sensing technology, embedded computing power, memory, storage, software and wireless connectivity. All those elements are turning them into “smart machines” and gathering the data produced by these smart machines go towards:

  1. real time fleet monitoring and equipment tracking.
  2. optimised equipment dispatching.
  3. location, skill and work based technician scheduling.
  4. asset tracking.
  5. condition based predicative maintenance.
  6. increased driver and equipment safety and security.

In the case of traditional fleet managed systems, being more intelligent allows us to reduce operational cost, increase productivity, improve employee efficiency, extend life of equipment, enable better breakdown recover, promote responsible driving, and improve driver safety.

One of the major components of this is predictive maintenance. Based on the data produced by sensors, and by using advanced analytics and decision models, we can plan maintenance tasks according to the anticipated, measured or calculated condition of a component, device or system.

Using AI and AR we can remotely assist service engineers and guide them to execute complex tasks, reducing the need for highly specialised workers.

All these elements help asset-centric businesses like us to increase uptime, decrease costs and reduce operational risks, which in turn leads to better customer experiences and satisfaction.

In a world where it’s important to be leaders in your industry, how are you staying ahead of the field?

Maintaining a market-leading position is not easy. We operate in a real-time business where speed is essential, so how fast we can find a solution for our customers having problems with their equipment is crucial.

Agility, creativity and innovation are other important components and we deliberately set out to create a culture where innovation and digital technology plays a major role. We use the creativity of our employees, validating their ideas, and then embracing change as we transform those ideas into reality.

Creation of this capability required an organisational change. Using the right structure and command and control model, along with strong KPI’s are what was needed. This combined with a network model where innovation and experimenting can take place are a few of the steps we’ve taken.

We then went about transforming our IT, by creating a new organization called Business Innovation through Information Technology (BI²T), and merged it with the business, creating a platform for digital innovation which focused on six pillars:

  1. IT Execution
  2. Software Factory
  3. Information Management
  4. Business Process Improvement
  5. Digital Transformation
  6. R&D

This organisational change was the driving force behind our innovation.

That’s a lot of change and sounds like a big undertaking, particularly with a bigger reliance on technology. Do you feel that there is still a place for manual workers, or will AI eventually dominate the workplace?

I think there’s a lot of hype around artificial intelligence at the moment, as some of the technologies are not yet mature. Its evolution however shouldn’t be underestimated as in the long-term I think it will be spectacular!

AI will become an increasingly important part of industrial ecosystems – not just increasing productivity but changing the business model and leading to true disruption; this will be primarily in the form of deep-learning algorithms. If you look at enterprises, AI is already widely used, which will become increasingly data-driven.

And yes, there is a certain fear that AI will take our jobs. Recently the Korean Employment Information Service identified 406 jobs which are candidates to be replaced by smart machines. It used to be the uneducated worried about it, but now even some of the well-educated, working in offices and administration, are increasingly under pressure.

I think AI can eventually replace jobs but new ones will be created, and I think robots will complement humans, not supplant them. AI will help humans do their jobs better, but finding the right symbiosis between humans and machines, the right mix between the human and machine intelligence, is what it’s all about.

That’s fascinating! And so speaking of the future, what are TVH’s ambitions for 2016?

TVH is further consolidating its leading role in material handling spare parts distribution, extending it to agricultural equipment, port and container handling, warehouse equipment, consumables, and accessories.

We are increasing our distribution capacity building two state-of-the-art logistics centres, one in Waregem, Belgium and the other in Olathe KS, US. At the same time we are increasing the size of our rental fleet, targeting new countries and offering a true one-stop-shop experience for our customers.

Beyond this we are looking to further increase our workforce, to invest more in people, and to foster a challenging and rewarding environment for our employees. Investment in digital technologies like Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, augmented reality; advanced analytics are amongst many of our other priorities too.

What are you excited about seeing at this year’s Broadband World Forum event?

It’s the place to go to stay in touch with the entire broadband industry and this year’s agenda looks really exiting with interesting topics like Internet of Things, VR, AR, and with outstanding speakers too.

I’m also really interested in hearing the vision of political and industrial leaders about the connected world. I want to learn from the use-cases and interactive discussions, to catch new ideas related to on-demand services and business models, to visit the exhibition area and see interesting solutions and products.

Taking advantage of the networking opportunities offered by the event, along with the chance to meet peers and to participate in conversations around digital technology and business transformation represents an important value as well.

Thank you Kalman, this has been a fascinating look at TVH!

You can read more about TVH from its TVH website. Broadband World Forum takes place at London’s ExCel Convention Centre, 18-20 October 2016. Check out our website for further details on the agenda and speakers, and book your place today!


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