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This is issue #342 - 10 January 2008 of the weekly newsletter for industry professionals.
“Happy New Year!”
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Technology, environment and safety set to dominate again
by Christine Liew
The industry’s leading forklift manufacturers and our Safety First columnists share their perspectives on the highlights of the year that has just ended – and their implications for the year ahead.
German forklift giant Linde, bought by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners in 2006, didn’t unveil new technology last year but it did complete its EUR10million (USD13.4 million) development centre in Aschaffenburg and launch a new marketing label for its products.
Linde PureMotion was introduced at the Bauma trade show in Munich in April. It was all about the company’s affirmation of its corporate responsibility to its forklift users and the environment.
Linde Material Handling’s managing director at the time, George Silbermann, said the company had a responsibility to protect people and the environment. Before introducing the program, Linde analysed all its departments and examined its products and services. The protection of “man and environment” were not mutually exclusive, Silbermann said, but belonged together. The program was presented to the European trade press in Frankfurt am Main in November.
Last year, the EU directive 2002/44/EC became a part of German law and Linde’s German dealers and European sales organisation offered a service package to help companies fulfil their requirements of protecting workers from risks of vibration exposure.
Linde’s partners counsel clients on vibration protection, health monitoring and the new directive, while the company also provides clients with vibration measurement equipment – a seat measurement cushion and software and the Linde PureMotion calculation tool, which allows the comparison of several series of measurements.
Still GmbH, a sibling of Linde in the KION Group that also controls the OM brand, says it is improving warehouse automation and is proud of the work it did for General Electric (GE) Plastics last year.
Using the newly designed MMSi, an IT solution that allows different configurations for an automatic warehouse operation, Still worked with logistics service provider DSV to automate GE Plastics’ central European warehouse. Driverless Still MX-X VNA trucks were used at the plant in Bergen op Zoom on the Oosterschelde in the Netherlands. The result of the project was greater capacity and flexibility at the site and the resolution of another pressing problem.
Still says automating the Bergen op Zoom warehouse helped combat skills shortage in the Netherlands. GE became less dependent on the labour market and less affected by worker absence after the automation removed 17 jobs.
The project was challenging because Still worked to convert the manually operated warehouse to one with 18 automated aisles and six manual aisles while warehouse operations continued as per usual. Eventually, the new system enabled over 3,000 pallets to be moved a day.
Still also developed a new restraint system - “netProtect” - used in place of a safety belt. The sensor-controlled “netProtect” consists of a fixed bar on the right hand side of the cabin and a bar moved by an electric motor on the left hand side. During travel, the bar is lowered and closes the access opening with a protective net. The system was tested at a Hamburg port and is available for Still’s RX 20 and RX 60 forklifts.
Forkliftaction.com News Safety First columnist and forklift driving trainer David Hoover says many operators do not wear their seatbelts and using a restraint system could save at least 25 lives in the US and many more worldwide.
Hamburg-based Jungheinrich made its JetPilot steering wheel available as an option for all its electric counterbalanced forklifts in the EFG 425-430 range in September 2007. JetPilot was introduced at CeMAT 2005 in Hannover as a concept study. The steering wheel integrates all main operating functions, making operating levers redundant.
In December 2007 the company launched a new hydrostatic drive internal combustion forklift. Built at the Moosburg plant, the VFG 425s-435s has few mechanical components and so is service-friendly and low maintenance.
Tobias Harzer, head of product management at Jungheinrich Moosburg, says the forklift is “cut out for reversing options” during lorry loading and offloading. The hydrostatic drive enables “fast and smooth change in direction” and fast acceleration.
Both diesel and LPG versions have Volkswagen motors. Bosch Rexroth supplies the variable displacement pumps and motors, and Jungheinrich software controls the forklift’s system.
Repeating the design principle first used in the DFG/TFG 425-435 internal combustion forklifts launched in 2004, the counterweight design and high mounted safety steering axle gives the forklift a low centre of gravity. The forklift has improved visibility to the forklift’s rear due to the counterweight’s low top edge.
Toyota Material Handling Europe (TMHE) launched its “most advanced” internal combustion counterbalanced forklift for the European market last year.
The 1.5-3.5 tonne (3,307lb-7,716lb) Toyota Tonero that comes in diesel and LPG engines includes Toyota’s System of Active Stability and Operator Presence Sensing system. TMHE boasts that the forklift exceeds the emissions standards of EU directive 97/68/EC Emission Stage IIIa and is 99% recyclable at the end of its life. For example, besides the forklift’s iron parts, plastic components like the dashboard can be melted down and reused, and engine components that include various metals and allows, are recyclable.
It is built at the ISO 14001-certified Toyota plant in Ancenis, France and its parts suppliers are also ISO 14001 certified.
Forklift users are able to customise the forklift through the Toyota Tonero+ formula, consisting of Tonero+Safety, Tonero+Productivity, Tonero+Durability and Tonero+Comfort. For example, the Tonero+Safety option provides a load weight indicator, maximum drive speed setting and features limiting the maximum drive speed and acceleration rate when moving raised loads.
In May, Crown Equipment Corp introduced the RC 5500 Series stand-up counterbalanced forklift, which it named “most versatile performer” in the warehouse. Crown says it is thus named because the forklift can be used to load and unload trailers, transport and stage products in the warehouse and store products in racks.
Also new with the series is Crown’s FlexRide suspension that the US manufacturer says provides a ride comparable to a “luxury automobile” while protecting operators from shock and vibration while travelling on rough floors and dock plates. FlexRide is currently only available on the RC 5500 Series.
Crown also launched InfoLink, a wireless fleet management tool. Crown told Forkliftaction.com News it is the first to build a fleet management system as other manufacturers partnered with third party providers to offer customers fleet management systems.
Doosan Infracore of Seoul, South Korea says in the past year, it continued its priority of customising its forklifts for individual needs, meeting environmental standards and enhancing its forklifts’ ergonomics. “We are taking steps to maintain a competitive position in the market despite challenges from low-priced models from China,” a company spokesperson says.
The spokesperson says China’s low-priced models were stepping up the competition and Chinese manufacturers were expanding their shares at the low-end of the American and European markets.
“Demand for operator convenience is increasing, particularly in advanced markets. We are satisfying these needs by reducing noise, vibration and harshness, as well as by developing products that are ergonomically impressive.”
Port equipment manufacturer Kalmar Industries of Stockholm, Sweden introduced the DCF 80-100 empty container handler in November 2007, replacing the DCE model in the European and North American markets. The F-generation unit is based on the same modular platform as Kalmar’s DRF reach stacker, and is available with a hook or twistlock attachment. Compared to the older DCE model, the DCF container handler has 10% faster lifting speed because of the rapid response provided by improved hydraulics with variable pumps. Kalmar says it offers the fastest lifting speed on the market.
The new unit also has a more powerful engine and a fully automatic electronic transmission that provides better torque and acceleration over existing models on the market, Kalmar says.
Linde is investigating technologies like fuel cell drive and start-stop automatic drives to save electric energy and fuel. In the automotive industry, start-stop automatic drives help save fuel by shutting off the motor when the car stops before a red traffic light. The motor restarts when the gas pedal is pushed. Forklifts are idle for about 30% of their operating time. Linde says there is no definite release date for start-stop automatic drives with its forklifts but it is examining the technology.
Meanwhile, Linde continues to save energy at its own facilities. About 90% of energy consumed by air compressors in Aschaffenburg’s Plants I and II is wasted in the form of heat. The heat is recovered and used to produce hot water for staff showers or the cafeteria kitchens.
Linde claims it is generating savings of around 16 million kilowatt-hours at Plant II alone - equivalent to the annual heating needs of 140 family homes.
Still says the RX70 diesel hybrid forklift introduced in 2006 is the first forklift equipped with hybrid technology drive. A 2.5 ton RX 70 consumes 2.5 litres per hour and emits 6.4kg (14.1lbs) of CO2 per hour of operation. An average passenger car travelling at 50km/h (31 mph) emits (21.8lbs) 9.9kg of CO2 per hour, according to a German transport emission model developed in 1999.
In April, Jungheinrich and other members of a research group presented a new fuel cell concept at Hannover Messe in Hannover, Germany. The group exhibited a Jungheinrich forklift that ran on direct methanol fuel cell technology. Infrastructure for handling methanol was said to be cheaper than for hydrogen. Both hydrogen and methanol fuel cell technologies could possibly be used together in the future to power large fleets of different forklift types.
Jungheinrich has a group department that specialises in quality and environment issues. The company’s environmental policy is comprehensive and is accredited to ISO 14001 standard.
The Moosburg factory is Jungheinrich’s “show plant” where over 98% of waste product is recycled. Employees are also regularly informed, qualified and motivated according to their tasks in environment protection.
Hyster Company president Paul Laroia says his company is committed to staying on the forefront of “green research and technology” every step of the forklift manufacturing process. Hyster forklifts are made in plants meeting ISO 14000 environmental standards.
Hyster says all its forklifts exceed 2007 EPA standards and “most” meet the more stringent 2010 CARB emission standards. It boasts that the Hyster GM 2.4L engine has the lowest overall emissions of any 3,000-7,000lb (1,361kg-3,175kg) forklift in the industry.
It also claims to be the first company to use working fuel cells in actual applications. Hyster is actively working on a few areas of alternate energy including hydrogen fuel cells, advanced energy storage devices and battery technology.
Doosan Infracore says it developed engine-powered forklifts in step with each stage of environmental regulatory changes, heavy metal restrictions, recommendations on environment-friendly material use and noise limits in the EU.
Kalmar will introduce “Working Ecodriving” this year. The approach works by teaching drivers the most effective way to operate forklifts, with expectations that fuel consumption can be cut up to 30% without time loss while saving costs and the environment.
Tip-overs were paramount in the concerns for Forkliftaction.com News Safety First columnists last year. Joseph Hrinik, who notes that this form of accident was prevalent in 2007 operator fatalities, says increased employer effort is required in providing proper operator training and supervision and in requiring that operators have and use proper safety restraints.
“Most countries do not need new or additional safety standards,” he says. “What is needed is aggressive enforcement by the OHS/OSH agencies of their current forklift safety requirements. These agencies should verify the training content and also determine the adequacy of the training that employers claim they have provided to forklift operators.”
David Hoover also stresses that tip-overs kill more workers than anything else. “Many operators do not wear the seatbelts and most belts are of no higher technology than they have been for 30 years,” he points out. “Even the bright orange belts with electronic cut-outs are not enough; they are easily defeated by bucking them and then sitting on the bucked belt. Putting a guard over the operator like on a roller coaster would not be well accepted, at least here in the US, so what about a ‘smart belt’ that knows if it is buckled around a person and won’t let the lift start or go into gear without being buckled and disables the lift if it is taken off.”
Hoover says he rarely, if ever, sees fatalities if an operator is buckled “and it makes the injuries much less severe in both head- on collisions and tip-overs, so coming up with a better belt would save at least 25 lives in the US and many more across the world, by sending the message: “Buckle up or this forklift is going nowhere”.
He would also like to see more integrated warning systems in the lift circuits of all forklifts, “creating a warning and eventual shut-down if capacity limits are exceeded”. “I know some narrow aisle lifts have built-in scales that may do certain things and that the SAS system has some features having to do with tilt, but I would like to see a more across-the-board approach on all makes and models. This would not only improve safety but also reduce wear and tear on the lifts.”
Hoover says he knows companies that regularly lift more than recommended. “They know they are not doing the right thing, but this would engineer safety into the lift and not allow them to perform these types of unsafe operations, or at least not without plenty of warnings being given.”
He would also like to see better and more innovative warning systems to warn passers-by “without driving the operator insane (which results in them doing nasty things to the warning devices and defeating them)” .
“I like the idea of the new ‘talking alarms’ that use a voice to warn people, but I would like to see a sensor integrated into the back of forklifts that provides extra warning to both an operator and pedestrians when the forklift starts to get really close. Taking the concept of proximity sensors to a new level would be a system that could engage the brakes if a forklift backed too close to a person, wall or machine. The cars of the future are starting to use this on the roads right now, by engaging the brakes of a following car when the car in front brakes hard or gets too close,” he says.
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Chinese debuts in latest world ranking list
Another Chinese manufacturer has made it to dhf-intralogistik’s annual world ranking list of powered industrial truck manufacturers, which has grown from 38 to 40 companies.
Baoli debuted on the latest annual ranking list at number 31 while German companies Magaziner and Miag appeared in 37th and 38th places. All three were not in last year’s list.
Toyota led the list with EUR4,843 million (USD7,088 million) in truck sales for 2006/07, a 16.6% jump from the previous year. Kion Group followed with EUR4,020 million (USD5,895 million) in sales, 15.3% more than the year before.
The succeeding companies made sales below EUR2,000 million (USD2,933 million).
Nacco Industries Inc, which owns the Yale, Hyster, Shinko and Sumitomo brands sold EUR1,898 million (USD2,783 million) of forklifts, 1.8% more than the previous year.
Jungheinrich raked in EUR1,582 million (USD2,320 million) in truck sales, 5.7% higher than last year.
All the companies in the list saw their sales grow from the year before except for Komatsu (-1.8%), Nichiyu (-3.6%) and DanTruck-Heden (-5%).
Chinese manufacturers Heli and Hangcha enjoyed the biggest growth in powered industrial truck sales. Sales for Heli grew 32.6% from EUR184 million (USD270 million) to EUR244 million (USD358 million) while Hangzhou’s truck sales jumped 34.3% from EUR134 million (USD197 million) to EUR180 million (USD264 million).
To qualify for the list, forklift manufacturers must sell a minimum of EUR10.2 million (USD15.0 million) of powered industrial trucks. Baoli sold EUR21 million (USD30.8 million) of trucks in 2006/07, Magaziner, EUR14 million (USD20.5 million) and Miag, EUR13 million (USD19.1 million).
Click here to view the 2006/07 ranking list.
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The year that was and what lies ahead
by Karen Harverson
Safety issues, new product launches, expansions and advanced technology dominated the news within the Australasian forklift, freight, logistics and warehousing industries during 2007 and Forkliftaction.com News kept readers up to date throughout the year.
Early in the year, Yale launched its rust-resistant forklifts for use in corrosive and sensitive work environments like food processing, pickling, tanning and salty conditions.
Advances in warehousing included the use of electronic wire guidance systems, and Forkliftaction.com News reported on a Melbourne family-run forklift company, Realfind Forklifts, that made the decision to install electronic wire guidance (EWG) systems as its core business, instead of dealing in forklifts.
EWG closes up warehouse aisles, increases storage and allows forklifts and turret trucks to travel at full speed without safety concerns as they are guided.
The construction of Australia’s first fully integrated radio frequency identification (RFID) forklift was completed in March 2007 by Peacock Bros, Intermec Inc, Alpha Warehouse Solutions and Cascade Australia.
The fully integrated RFID forklift was “the missing link” in RFID technology, obviating the need for drivers to leave forklift cabins to scan boxes by hand.
Also in March, Linde expanded its 39X internal combustion forklift range to include lifting requirements of 1.4 tonnes to two tonnes in the new 391 series.
Irish manufacturer Combilift joined forces with forklift distributor MHF Imports of Sydney, Australia to establish Combilift Australia.
Combilift Australia is a division of the importer which was established as Adapt-A-Lift Imports by Adapt-A-Lift Forklift Rentals and Sales (AAL) in 2002.
In April, Forkliftaction.com News reported that forklift hire and sales company Rentcorp was planning a $6.7 million expansion of its Sydney head office after buying a 5,035sq m block of land at Padstow, in Sydney.
Also in the news that month, freight and logistics giants Toll Holdings and Linfox signed a three-year rail deal speculated to generate more than $100 million a year.
Access equipment manufacturer JLG appointed Andrew Satterley as general manager for its Australia and New Zealand operations, and the company struck a deal with distributor United Equipment to deliver its line of European-built telehandlers to the Australian and New Zealand markets.
In May, Forkliftaction.com News reported on the new headquarters of Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) at Moorebank, NSW, which was described as a benchmark facility for materials handling in the country.
Safety issues around forklifts remained a hot topic throughout the year, and serious injuries and fatalities related to the use of forklift trucks continued to plague the industry despite efforts to provide free education, tighten up licensing requirements, and prosecute companies which breach the law.
Over the next year, all states in Australia will introduce five-year renewable licences in place of the National Certificates of Competency (NCOC) which were, until recently, issued for life.
The new licences feature improved identification including photos, provision for a signature for the licence-holder and tamper-proof security.
There is no specific licensing requirement for pedestrian forklifts, which are excluded from the National Licensing Standard.
Forkliftaction.com News paid tribute to Barry Carter, author of Forklift Safety – Reducing the Risk, who died in Melbourne on February 6, aged 57. His publication is recognised globally as a standard reference point on how to operate a forklift safely.
Still on safety, risk management consultant Roger Kahler of the InterSafe Group called on the Australian government to recognise that it is the head of a management chain and, as such, has an awesome responsibility to collect, organise and disseminate information within the occupational health and safety arena in a transparent and easily accessible manner.
Kahler, who spoke at the Queensland Safety Conference in May, specialises in pattern analysis – the discipline of looking for common patterns among data and gaining insights as a result of those patterns.
A strong trend in 2007 was the emergence of forklift auctions moving online with buyers and sellers taking advantage of the 24-hour marketplace on sites like GraysOnline.
In June, we reported that Crown Lift Trucks had released a unique counterbalanced forklift for the Australian market, capable of being used in a variety of applications.
Dubbed the 'cross-over' vehicle, the RC 5500 Series can be used throughout a facility including loading and unloading trucks, transporting and staging products throughout the warehouse, as well as storing products in racks.
In July, New Zealand based Gough, Gough and Hamer announced it was opening a country-wide network of rental stores offering a diverse range of equipment, including forklifts, for the contracting and DIY market.
Global provider of container and heavy duty materials handling equipment, Kalmar, received a further straddle carrier order from Australia’s Patrick Corporation.
The order, for a total of 15 seventh generation straddle carriers for its container terminals in Melbourne and Sydney, is worth an estimated A$19 million.
Container trade through Sydney’s ports hit an all-time high, with preliminary trade figures for 2006/07 showing a 12% increase over last year.
Not to be outdone, the Port of Brisbane was reported to be Australia’s fastest-growing container port and a key driver of economic growth throughout the South East Queensland region.
In August, DSV Air & Sea Holding, a division of Danish transport and logistics services group DSV, established a new company in New Zealand under the name of DSV Air & Sea Limited.
Cascade Australia of Rocklea, Queensland, won a contract to supply paper roll clamps to a major Australian forklift company by December this year, for use by a large paper manufacturer's logistics and distribution provider.
In September, exclusive Australasian distributor of Mast Explorer forklifts, Calibre Material Handling (Calmat) of Hallam, Victoria, released its latest rough terrain model into the market. The H50DA 2WD model with automatic differential lock is the latest offering from the Spanish manufactured range of forklifts.
Also this month, the Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia (SCLAA) launched its New South Wales division.
Headed by Bill Henman of the College of Warehousing, the new division is in direct competition with rival organisation, NSW-based Logistics Association of Australia, from which the SCLAA originated.
Among the upcoming events planned by the SCLAA NSW is a forklift driving competition, which is open to all individuals and teams. “The major criteria will be safety, OHS knowledge, eye-hand coordination and driving skills,” says Henman, adding that female operators will also be strongly encouraged to take part.
It wasn’t all good news: New Zealand's biggest port was brought to a virtual standstill in October after 265 dockworkers walked off the job in Auckland.
In November, Forkliftaction.com News reported on the financial difficulties besetting failed forklift sales and rental operation, Independent Forklift Services (IFS), which was placed under the administration of national insolvency firm PPB.
A few weeks later, we reported that another Australian forklift fleet operator, Budget Forklifts NSW, had been placed in voluntary administration. Smeaton Forklifts Pty Limited, which trades as Budget Forklifts NSW, is now under the administration of Peter Hillig of Smith Hancock.
In November, Australian-based Babcock & Brown Infrastructure (BBI) announced it had acquired 100% of two Finnish concession port operators for a combined value of A$144 million.
The following month BBI added a big port operator in the US to its growing list of shipping interests across the globe.
With business conditions at record levels and soaring profits the order of the day, the impending election did not seem to worry many players in the industry according to a snap poll by Forkliftaction.com News to canvass views about the potential impact of the different parties’ policies.
Also this month, Brambles’ CHEP division signed its biggest agreement in the Asia Pacific area to supply crates to Woolworths.
Looking ahead to 2008
In the words of John Strang, Chairman of ICHCA Australia Limited: “As Australia's economy continues to grow on the back of the amazing resources boom underway at present, the role that transport and cargo handling plays in the overall national effort has never been more apparent.”
2007 saw a number of developments which impacted the freight industry including an increased focus on the environment and security measures and the increased market demand for total supply chain solutions.
Global forwarder DHL tells Forkliftaction.com News that the company is seeing an increasing demand from Australian importers seeking a total supply chain solution that includes international freight, warehousing and distribution services.
Tony Boll, senior vice president for DHL Global Forwarding, South Pacific, tells Forkliftaction.com News that customers in the freight market are looking for innovative companies with technology and new infrastructure that enable customers to reduce their costs and gain faster access to markets.
“In November, DGF opened a new purpose built facility at Brisbane Airport. It represents an investment of more than A$8 million and is more than 4,250 m2 in area. This building is green, has temperature controlled environments to handle end-to-end cool chain requirements and state-of-the-art security,” adds Boll.
"Companies are focusing on innovations that set themselves apart from their competitors and move the industry forward as a whole. For example, DHL is ensuring that most cities are linked by air and ocean, and developing proactive shipment monitoring systems. These systems provide DHL clients with fast deliveries and complete transparency of shipment information across the supply chain.”
According to Boll, the biggest opportunities in 2008 revolve around the fact that manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to remain competitive by looking for new markets, new products or cheaper production.
“The latter option often means moving manufacturing overseas, and there is a definite trend for companies to take advantage of cheaper labour and operating costs by manufacturing products in countries such as China and then importing to Australia and New Zealand for sale.
“Herein lies the opportunity for us, and though the growth for the air freight market appears to plateau, with improved technology for transporting perishables and reduced travel time, more customers are choosing to use ocean freight services instead.”
While opportunities are perpetually evolving, so are the challenges; many of which are representative of greater infrastructural issues impacting the region’s economies, overall competitiveness and security obligations.
Many of Australia’s ports are unable to handle visits from “mega-ships” that service ports such as those in Hong Kong and Los Angeles. “This presents a challenge to importers and exporters, as many of the ports in Australia are serviced by “feeder vessels” which carry containers from larger ports that are able to service mega-vessels. Unfortunately, this results in both an increase in time and cost. However, Australian port authorities are continually investing in new ports to cope with larger vessels,” says Boll.
He says that DGF will continue to invest in bricks and mortar at its Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland sites.
According to Boll, the freight industry faces a number of challenges for the year ahead, and these may impact DHL, including the high Australian dollar and the tightening of the Australian labour market.
The increasing Australian dollar is unattractive for exporters and is making exports more expensive but imports less costly. DHL continues to improve the flow of goods in line with its objective to be a trade facilitator.
The second challenge DHL will have to address in the year ahead is the shortage of skilled labour due to the tight labour market across Australia.
“Since returning to Australia in 1984, I’ve witnessed many major changes in the industry. Globally, DHL now has logistics facilities in 3,000 locations in over 220 countries and 160,000 people servicing global customers.
“Seeing new markets develop has been a fascinating and educational experience. The emergence of China and India as strong importing and exporting countries and the introduction and development of Free Trade Agreements have been key developments that have driven and pushed trade forward, especially with the US and New Zealand,” he concludes.
Industry changes include:
• Re-engineering of Customs Clearance processes
• Increased security requirements and quarantine requirements both locally and overseas
• Increased environmental awareness. Globally, DHL has developed ‘go green’ initiatives to reduce environmental impacts.
Forklift supplier Powerlift Nissan says profitability was the biggest issue which impacted on the industry in 2007.
According to general manager Steve Stewart, “With many of the forklift suppliers being factory owned (unlike us) they are under pressure to supply volume to the factory (generally an overseas manufacturer) with what appears to be little regard to actually making money locally.
“Purchase and rental prices have plummeted to an all time low and the only winner has been the customer. Due to the volume of new trucks flooding the market, there is an oversupply of second-hand/ex-rental machines available and the value of these units is suffering accordingly.
“The recent forced liquidation of smaller independent forklift companies will continue as they try to compete with the bigger players and end up with rental machines still under finance back in their yards with an unrealistic residual position attached to them which often forces them to sell them at a loss or sit on the unit until the market recovers.”
Looking ahead to 2008, Stewart urges the industry to take a good hard look at itself and start trying to achieve reasonable margins for machines that are quicker, safer and more advanced than ever before.
“If the current trend continues, we will eventually have companies paying customers to take their trucks! This situation is not healthy for the customers either, as forklift companies start compromising on their service or try and claw back some margin during the rental period by charging the customer excessively for damage or excess hour usage.
“Generally most forklift suppliers offer good quality products and services but have become so obsessed with market share that they have ignored the fact that people are prepared to pay for this service.”
Stewart notes that there is an even bigger swing towards customers going for fully maintained rental deals.
“The market is becoming more aware of environmental issues and looking for machines that are more efficient, cleaner running, productive and use less fuel. Safety remains a major factor in the purchase decision and OH&S personnel are becoming more involved in the decision-making process.”
He tells Forkliftaction.com News that the biggest opportunity is for the industry to wake up to itself and start charging a fair and reasonable price for their equipment and services.
“If you’re confident your products will add value to a customer’s operation, then be confident enough to ask for a reasonable amount of money to provide the service and don’t just take the soft option of dropping your price.
“We will continue to see forklift companies struggling to make any money at a local level unless a change in attitude sweeps the industry and it starts to become profit-focused rather than volume-focused. I know many companies are doing it tough, but very few will admit it publicly.”
Stewart notes that another challenge for the industry in 2008 will be how it will attract and retain young professionals in sales, accounting, technical and administrative roles.
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Paling Transporter Delivers 40 Ton Coil Handling Lift Truck to Hamilton Works Facility, U.S. Steel Canada
Steel mill coil handling demands durable, reliable, productive lift truck equipment. Paling Transporter met and exceeded these operational requirements with its LT40188 40 ton lift truck recently put in service at Hamilton Works Plant in Hamilton Ontario, Canada.
Click here for the full text of this release, including pictures.
High Quality Hydraulic and Electromagnetic Brakes
Systems Material Handling (SMH), Olathe, Kansas is now offering new high quality hydraulic and electromagnetic brakes. These OEM equivalent brakes are best suited for the following forklift applications; ride on pallet truck, low level order pickers, walk behinds, stackers, and reach trucks.
Click here for more information on this product, including pictures.
WWP release its new WP60-13
Manufactured by WWP, the WP60-13 is especially designed for use in narrow aisles. So far, about 1000 units of this model have been produced. Its smart design and easy operation have been well accepted by our world wide customers. The WP60-13 has quickly become the most popular model of the range of WWP’s electric pallet trucks.
Click here for more information on this product, including pictures.
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