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WELCOME TO FORKLIFTACTION.COM, MATERIALS HANDLING ONLINE.
This is issue #266 - 29 June 2006 of the weekly newsletter for industry professionals.
“Female forklift driver wins legal battle.”
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Combilift aims for 100 more jobs
by European correspondent Luc de Smet
Combilift, the Irish builder of all wheel drive four-way forklifts, launched three machines at the inauguration of its new headquarters and factory in Monaghan last week.
Combilift invited 80 journalists from Europe and North America to the EUR10 million (USD12.5 million), 100,000 square foot (9,290 square metre) facility that was officially opened by Irish enterprise minister Michael Martin.
The new facility can produce one unit an hour or 2,000 units a year as expected demand increases. Management aims to increase the workforce of 150 to 250 over the next three years and increase exports from EUR60 million (USD75.2 million) to EUR100 million (USD125.3 million) by 2010.
The three new models now on the market are a TeleCombi, a semi-rough terrain C 5000L (10,000lb capacity) and a new GT stand-on forklift.
Martin McVicar, Combilift managing director, said customers were fitting telescopic reach forks on Combilifts.
“Our sales & marketing and designers designed the TeleCombi by fitting a boom to a regular carriage with off-the-shelf components. With the TeleCombi we are giving customers [the ability] to double loading capacity in their dispatching areas,” McVicar said.
The one-stage boom can reach three metres deep across the width of a trailer and lift up to 3,000kg. The boom is built on the rolling mast carriage for additional reach. The product can be brought back horizontally.
“Integral side shift is offered standard,” McVicar said. The three wheel hydrostatic drive, four-way, six ton machine is available in diesel and LPG. The engine drive train is turned 90 degrees.
The semi-rough terrain C 5000L is equipped with large, solid pneumatic tyres that enable it to handle long loads on unpaved yards and semi-rough terrain and narrow aisles indoors.
“Highlander Equipment, our dealer from New Jersey (UK), came up with the idea. Cab size has been increased 150mm for driver comfort. The machine has an integrated lumber box,” McVicar said.
The new GT stand-on forklift works in narrow aisles and lifts up to 4.5 tons. The four-wheel steer, electric GT can be fitted with an optical guiding system, eliminating the need for mechanical guide rails.
“We believe the TeleCombi will bring large volumes but the larger wheeled semi-rough terrain unit will become our largest product. It will account for 20 per cent of volume,” McVicar said.
Combilift was established in 1998 by Martin McVicar and technical director Robert Moffett, who developed the truck-mounted forklift of the same name, now part of Partek. In its first year Combilift sold 18 units. Current production is 1,500 units a year. About 95 per cent of Combilift products are exported to more than 45 countries.
Thirty per cent of sales are achieved by a US wholly owned subsidiary, Combilift USA, in Greensboro, North Carolina, which services North America and Mexico. There are 1,200 Combilift machines currently operating in the UK, where the market is expected to consume 250 new machines this year. In 2005 Combilift received a design achievement award from the UK Fork Lift Truck Association.
Komatsu targets Europe for growth
Komatsu Forklift increased forklift sales worldwide by 11.9 per cent in 2005.
Europe was a key growth market.
Rory Harvey-Kelly, Komatsu Division Europe’s head of commercial operations, said the forklift market in Europe grew 3.9 per cent last year while Komatsu sales in the region grew 20.6 per cent.
“We have made great strides forward in Eastern European countries, like Russia and Poland, as well as the emerging markets of Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary,” he said.
Komatsu’s market share is higher in Eastern Europe than Western Europe. The Eastern European market mainly revolved around internal combustion forklifts but Komatsu said in a statement that its Russian importer “reaped exceptional rewards with warehouse trucks”.
When Komatsu unveiled a new range of AX50-BX50 forklifts in Japan in March 2005, 39 of the 100 customers present were European. Harvey-Kelly said the number of European customers was a surprise.
“The company had never seen such numbers before … Komatsu orchestrated a highly aggressive launch, in tune with the trend launched three years ago when the company’s goal of expanding its footprint outside Japan was marked a priority. Before this, Komatsu generated most of its sales in Japan,” he said.
European sales of internal combustion forklifts grew 24 per cent and warehouse truck sales increased 30 per cent in 2005. Komatsu could now produce more than 90 per cent of its product line from its European facilities, Harvey-Kelly said. The remaining 10 per cent comprised internal combustion trucks of four tons and above capacity, which continued to be produced exclusively in Japan.
“A number one priority is to expand the reach of the European sales network and increase the number of authorised importers,” Harvey-Kelly said.
In 2005, European importers increased from 18 to 35. Harvey-Kelly said Komatsu’s “toughest challenge” was finding importers in strategic markets like Germany and Poland.
In Greece, Komatsu’s market share was more than 10 per cent, covered by two importers, one in the north and one in the south. There were 30 dealers in Spain and 36 in France. The UK has a sales division that receives products direct from the Italian factories. In Italy, Komatsu now distributes internal combustion forklifts through a distribution agreement established with Italian forklift manufacturer Carer last year.
Harvey-Kelly identified Russia and France as Komatsu’s core European markets.
“In Russia, thanks to the excellent job done by our importer, we sold about 2,000 units in the past year. We sell roughly 1,000 units a year in France.”
Toyota Australia first to integrate three brands
Australia’s major distributor of counterbalanced forklifts, Toyota Industries Corporation Australia (TICA), is now well advanced with integrating parent company Toyota Industries Corporation’s (TICO) three materials handling equipment brands through one channel.
TICA is the first TICO subsidiary to undertake integration of the three brands, Toyota Industrial Equipment, BT Lift Trucks and Raymond Forklifts.
The Toyota Materials Handling Group is developing a strategy for the integration of TICO brands in all major regions and markets.
A TICA statement said the “one-stop shop” was the next “logical strategy”. TICA said Australia was ideally placed for the integration, after historically using both the US and European styles of warehousing. That contrasted with the rest of the world where the major and mature markets had evolved using either the European or US styles.
Toyota European representative Jeffrey Schenck said the Toyota and BT brands were still marketed separately in Europe, except in Finland and Sweden. In those two countries, distributors marketed Toyota brand counterbalanced forklifts and BT brand warehouse equipment.
Schenck said the Raymond brand was not marketed in Europe.
Toyota US representative Melinda Beckett-Maines said there were no current plans to market the three brands together in the US.
TICA said all Australian dealerships would sell and support Toyota forklifts, BT Lift Trucks and Raymond brands under one roof by April 2006, providing the widest choice of materials handling equipment products in the industry.
The statement said integration of the BT parts operation into Toyota Materials Handling allowed improved “speed to market”.
The Raymond integration had triggered a new operation for parts.
“The integration of Raymond information into the Toyota system enabled the establishment of a completely new operation providing real-time analysis of customer needs, stocking levels and work supply,” the statement said.
TICA said the strategy, while still in the early stages of execution, had been extremely well received by TICA customers.
Australia will share integration information with other countries and regions as part of Toyota’s continuous improvement process.
The first Australian distributor to start sales and after-sales support of the three Toyota brands was Toyota Materials Handling (NSW). It was followed by TMH Queensland, TMH Western Australia (BT and Toyota only), TMH Victoria and TMH South Australia, in April.
US court rules in favour of female forklift driver
ATLANTA, GA, United States
A female former forklift driver’s legal battle against her employer has resulted in a broad rule protecting workers who fear retaliation.
Sheila White, 49, had complained that her foreman had sexually harassed her nine years ago. When she complained a second time, she was reassigned to a railway track job, then suspended without pay, the court was told (Forkliftaction.com News #257).
“I was moving spike cans that weighed 150lbs,” she said. “The date they took me off that forklift and put me in the yard to work with the men, I didn’t know the first thing about it. Everything out there was hot and heavy. You could easily get killed or hurt out there,” White said.
The US Supreme Court last Thursday ruled that White’s employer, Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company, had retaliated against her even though it did not fire or demote her, The New York Times reported.
The decision is expected to bolster legal protection for employees who complain of discrimination. A jury in a lower court will determine punitive damages.
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CVC Ferrari launches new generation
Italian manufacturer CVS Ferrari has introduced its fourth generation reach stacker.
CVS Ferrari says the Ferrari 400, which comes three years after the Ferrari 300, will become a benchmark for competitors because it has “the latest features in terms of environmental standards, performance, fuel consumption and Can bus technology”.
Can bus technology is a communication system that enables machine diagnostics. Proponents of the technology say it involves fewer parts than conventional drive systems and provides reliable transmission of data.
JCB lends Indonesia a hand
ROCESTER, United Kingdom
Telehandler manufacturer JCB will donate three machines and aid to help clean-up operations in the wake of last month’s earthquake in Java, Indonesia.
Two backhoe loaders and a robot skid steer loader will be deployed through community aid organisation Oxfam. The machines, shipping costs and local support are valued at about GBP300,000 (USD547,109).
The earthquake, which struck 25km from Yogyakarta city last month, measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.
CHEP parent sells Cleanaway to US firm
Brambles, the parent company of leading pallet and container pooling service provider CHEP, is selling its Australian and New Zealand waste management business and its Australian industrial service provider.
Brambles sold Cleanaway Australia and New Zealand and Industrial Services Australia to an affiliate of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, a US private equity firm, for AUD1.83 billion (USD1.35 billion) in cash.
Don Argus, Brambles chairman, said the group’s strategy was to focus on CHEP and Recall, its information management business.
New Toyota trucks for Europe
Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIE) has introduced a new generation of low-level order pickers.
The 7LOP range, comprising four models with load capacities from 1,000kg to 2,500kg and maximum lift heights ranging from 225mm to 1880mm, were manufactured in Sweden for the European market.
A TIE Europe statement said the 7LOP range, compared to its predecessor, the LOP range, had a heavier duty drive motor, automatic speed reduction when cornering and the Toyota Powerdrive system.
The newly released Easymover stacker is also manufactured at Toyota’s Swedish plant. The 1,000kg capacity SP10 and SP10S have been added to Toyota’s stacker line-up to provide entry-level stacker solutions for TIE’s Europe customers, a Toyota statement said.
First Queensland Safety Show popular
Forklift manufacturers Linde Materials Handling, Crown Equipment and Toyota Material Handling, and Genie telehandler distributor Skyreach exhibited at the inaugural Queensland Safety Show last week.
The 175 exhibitors ranged from companies offering safety signage, safe work attire, ear plugs, first aid, finance and insurance, and rack protection to anti-slip solutions.
Spill Station Australia was awarded “best use of exhibition material” by show organisers. Besides a neatly laid-out stand, Spill Station’s yellow, oversized showbag was popular with visitors.
Nathan Cartwright, Spill Station’s business development manager, said he initially thought the showbag was too big but its design attracted visitors looking for a big bag to carry smaller showbags.
In 1983, the Australian Defence Force approached Cartwright’s father, Bruce Cartwright, for a solution to OH&S issues associated with oil and chemical spills. Bruce Cartwright then designed the world’s first spill response kit inserted in a wheelie bin.
David Punter, from Global Safe Technologies, Brisbane, Queensland, was at the show to exhibit anti-slip products.
He said several big corporations had shown interest in his products because their forklifts were “slipping on wet floors”. “The response has been really good. We have a fair bit to do next month.”
Mark Althaus, director of Colby Storage Solutions, said there had been much visitor interest in his protect-a-rack system.
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Traders cautious on selling rubber
TWICKENHAM, United Kingdom
The past two months has seen the rubber price rise to the highest levels in recent history, according to the Rubber Trade Association of Europe (RTAE).
Howard Evans, secretary general of the UK-based RTAE, attributed the price rise to “outside funds” or speculators, notably in Japan.
“All funds purchase rubber for future shipment or delivery, but with no intention of taking delivery, when they perceive prices are relatively low,” he said.
Speculators then sold to maximise their investment when prices rose.
“The immediate effect of profit-taking is a sharp fall in prices. Consequently, when funds’ activities predominate, as they currently do, market movements are much less moderated by routine physical sales and purchases,” Evans said.
Last week rubber prices fell as funds reaped profits. Prices are now about 30 per cent higher than at the end of 2005.
Evans said rubber traders had to be “doubly cautious” that sales were not made to rubber tyre manufacturers that could run into financial difficulties.
The price change of the two main tyre grades of natural rubber:
“The future outlook appears to be a gradual but inexorable deficit between production and consumption unless steady new planting or re-planting is undertaken at origin.”
James Bond car fetches forklifts
BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom
A UK materials handling company received an unusual request this month, a forklift trader wanted to exchange a 1967 Aston Martin for six forklifts.
Andy Mullins, from QA Liftrucks, Birmingham, told Forkliftaction.com News the trader presented QA with a black, two-door, 1967 Aston Martin DB6 that had been refurbished over 17 years by a professor of mechanical engineering.
Mullins said QA advertised the car for sale on online car sale website AutoTrader.com. Within 48 hours, a car enthusiast had placed a bid and would collect the car next week.
The trader received two Toyota 7FG20s, one Toyota 7FG30, two TCM diesel forklifts and a Manitou rough-terrain forklift. The five-to-six-year-old forklifts totalled about GBP35,000 (USD63,829).
The Aston Martin is the favoured car of James Bond in the 007 films.
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Hayes-Lemmerz ~ Worldwide flat-based wheels leader for forklift manufacturers
Ostrava, Czech Republic
Hayes-Lemmerz Autoskola, a.s., a Czech manufacturer of flat based and split wheels for forklift manufacturer announce strengthen position in material handling market. Hayes-Lemmerz got off to a good start in the current year and has continued its course for growth from 2000, after moving their forklift wheel production facility to the Czech Republic.
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First Queensland Safety Show a hit!
The first Queensland Safety Show and Forum has been hailed a success, with 4451 visitors attending the inaugural event from June 21 – 23 in Brisbane. More than 150 safety suppliers showcased everything from asbestos management, construction, electrical, environmental, fire, materials handling and machine safety products through to services like auditing, first aid, rehabilitation and health screening.
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The WSS “DRIVER ID” could save your employees from serious injury or death
The WSS “DRIVER ID” is not unique in its keypad/swipe card entry for forklifts. What sets our product apart is the requirement by the driver to carry out a full startup safety check. The “DRIVER ID” prompts the driver to answer a check list and records their response. Once complete and if all the answers are YES the unit will allow the forklift to start.
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Jayline – Fork Protectors and Load Protectors
Now you could save thousands on fork maintenance and damaged loads. Let's face it fork trucks are a means to move goods and assets easily and economically. Unfortunately, in the process, the truck and sometimes the load can get damaged. This means increased cost and reduced profit. In the face of ever more stringent legislation and inspection procedures, wear to the forks of a truck will mean that they will have to be replaced before that truck can continue operating. And damaged loads just simply mean less profit. Jayline - Archie Award Finalists for Innovation. Read more...
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AEM holds open house
MILWAUKEE, WI, United States
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) held an open house last Thursday to showcase its new headquarters and inform visitors on its work and the industry it serves.
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