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This is issue #365 - 19 June 2008 of the weekly newsletter for industry professionals.
“Kalmar launches hybrid straddle carrier.”
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Jungheinrich moves production to Degernpoint
Jungheinrich AG will meet growing market demand by expanding to five forklift factories in Germany by the end of 2009.
Jungheinrich Moosburg GmbH plans to build a new plant in the Degernpoint commercial and industrial area, about 4km (2.5 miles) from the Moosburg plant for warehousing and system equipment.
A Jungheinrich spokesman declined to reveal the plant’s production capacity but says about 300 of the 1,000 employees working at Moosburg will relocate to the Degernpoint site. About EUR40 million (USD62 million) has been earmarked for the construction project scheduled to start this year.
Moosburg will transfer production of warehousing and system equipment to the new plant as it has reached capacity and can’t be expanded.
Jungheinrich will acquire a property covering 60,000m² (645,835 sqft) in the Degernpoint industrial area from the City of Moosburg. Plans for the plant are “so advanced”, Jungheinrich says, that construction activity is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2008.
Counterbalanced forklifts will continue to be produced at Moosburg. Jungheinrich currently has three German plants – Norderstedt, Moosburg and Lüneburg. A new plant is being built in the Leipzig region and will be completed in 2009 (Forkliftaction.com News #340).
Barloworld to sell 10% stake to black investors
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
Barloworld is selling 10% of the company to black investors in a ZAR2.4 billion (USD296.4 million) deal, according to terms set out in a black ownership initiative.
The sale of the 10% shareholding in Barloworld’s ordinary share capital will bring effective black ownership of Barloworld’s South African operations to about 29%.
Barloworld’s black ownership initiative comprises four components:
A shareholders’ general meeting to implement the black ownership initiative will be held on 12 August and the meeting’s results will be released on JSE (Johannesburg’s Securities Exchange) Stock Exchange News Service the same day.
Barloworld expects the new shares to be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 25 August.
Kalmar launches “world first”
Kalmar Industries has introduced what it claims is the world’s first straddle carrier with a hybrid drive system.
The new Pro Future hybrid technology package is a modular option that can be fitted to its seventh generation Kalmar ESC W straddle carrier. Kalmar claims the technology saves 25-30% in fuel.
Ikka Annala, Kalmar’s straddle carrier vice president, says the straddle carrier’s cyclical operations in container terminals is the reason for hybrid technology’s good results in this particular application.
“This type of operation is very transient and has suitable positive and negative energy peaks that can be used to save fuel,” Annala says.
“On an annual level, over 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per straddle carrier can be eliminated while employing hybrid technology,” he adds.
The technology allows hoist motors to be used as generators when lowering containers. The energy produced can be stored. Energy produced from the electric drive system when machines are braking or decelerating is also stored.
The machine’s super-capacitor energy storage system draws on the saved energy before making demands on the diesel engine for movement or lifting. An in-cab display shows the machine’s energy flow, enabling fine-tuning of driving style for efficient operation.
The Pro Future package includes a super-capacitor energy storage system and a VSG (variable speed generator) diesel-generator package with temperature-controlled fan technology. The VSG system determines whether high or low engine power is needed to optimise engine use.
Kalmar is a leading supplier of cargo handling equipment to ports, terminals and intermodal facilities. It claims every fourth container or trailer transfer at terminals worldwide is handled by a Kalmar machine. With plants in Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Malaysia, China and the US, the company’s net sales for 2007 totalled EUR1.343 billion (USD2.084 billion).
Clark Europe anticipates above-average growth
MULHEIM AN DER RUHR, Germany
Clark Europe GmbH expects to grow faster than the European market this year after recording 75% more sales in 2007 than in 2006.
The subsidiary of Young An Hat Company posted EUR24.5 million (USD38 million) in sales for 2007. Orders were 60% higher than 2006 in unit terms.
Clark Europe's planned sales for 2008 currently exceed EUR40 million (USD62 million) and the company aims to secure 16% more orders than in 2007. It expects its spare parts business to grow 17% and deliveries of new machines to increase about 20% from last year.
"These targets are certainly tough but at the same time realistic," managing director Egon Strehl says.
Clark Europe moved to its Mulheim an der Ruhr headquarters in 2007. A production facility will be built there in 2009/2010 for electric models developed for the European market.
"We're currently building a superb team of engineers who can specifically monitor the market here and anticipate trends," Strehl says, adding that Clark Europe recently employed a service engineer to boost technical support and two staff members to cope with increased orders.
Clark has introduced the three-wheel GenTX and four-wheel GenEX electric forklift series to round off its Gen2 series. The GenTX 16-20s series with load capacities ranging from 1.6-2 tonnes have AC technology and dual drive motors. The GenEX16-20s series has similar features to the GenTX series.
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Green forklifts debut at CeMAT
By Luc De Smet
Alternative fuel sources were the talk of CeMAT 08, with manufacturers unveiling their developments. Hydrogen and hybrid vehicles are still mostly in R&D or test stage, but Lithium Ion batteries are taking off.
Lithium Ion batteries (Li-Ion), currently used in cell phones and iPods, are lighter and more powerful than lead batteries. They also provide designers with more freedom of form. They require less energy, run and live longer – and have a host of other benefits. But some challenges still remain, including the need for efficient charging technology. Higher costs of the basic materials could become a concern. Forklift builders will also need to put in some extensive testing before the technology hits the market.
Jungheinrich’s slender Concept 08 - a concept study for a stand-on AC pallet truck - has seven Chinese 3,6V Li-Ion battery cells neatly integrated into its mast. This prototype is claimed to be some 15% more efficient than a machine with traditional batteries. The Concept 08 will probably never hit the market, but components and subsets may eventually be integrated into various models of Jungheinrich’s broad range of warehouse machines.
Nissan showed off its first forklift running on Li-Ion batteries, the result of last year’s joint venture between Nissan Motor Co, NEC Corporation and NEC TOKIN. Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) first aimed at the automotive market, but in the meantime it is also applying its findings to forklifts. It is said that testing will start at a Japanese client in 2010. We also heard that Nissan soon will be launching a hybrid car that runs on Li-Ion-batteries. It again illustrates the relationship and synergy between automotive and materials handling.
Noblelift, a major Chinese builder of warehouse machinery, discretely showed its manual palletiser with a built in Li-Ion battery.
Hybrids and others
Still AG is the first to have a hybrid truck close to initial series production. The RX 70 hybrid runs on diesel and electricity it stores in “SuperCaps”. These supercapacitators draw a high current that is recuperated when braking or when lowering the forks. They give the machine a ‘boost’ when needed, alongside the output of the combustion engine. When accelerating or during operational peaks, the SuperCaps will lower the revs per minute (rpm) of the diesel engine by as much as 30%. The RX 70 Hybrid comes to the fore in applications with start-stop operations and accelerating. Across the board savings in fuel are estimated at 11%.
Still has more up its sleeve: it has been testing two R07-25 towtractors with fuel cells at Hamburg airport. In the port of Hamburg, Still is also trialing one of its R 60-25 forklifts on hydrogen. It plans to pilot a FM-X 20 reachtruck and a R 60 electric forklift with various alternative propulsion systems at BASF’s Coatings facility. Over the next four years, Still plans to test some 100 trucks all over Germany to gain experience.
Forklift builder Linde showed three pilot machines on alternative fuels. Its blue hydrogen-powered P250 puller is practically appropriate for small initial series production. The company also showed its hybrid H35 concept forklift that has a 30 kW combustion engine and a synchronous electric motor, a 400 V Li-Ion battery and an energy management system. When standing still, the combustion engine will automatically turn off. The machine uses its electric motor as a generator or to restart the engine. This ‘mild’ combination can save up to a quarter in fuel consumption. The third truck, a 39x , is a three ton machine with a ‘hydrogen motor’ that burns directly injected hydrogen.
Toyota demonstrated its Hybrid Concept Forklift in Hannover. It uses the same technology as its succesful hybrid car, the Prius. The machine combines a combustion engine and an electric generator along with a Ni-MH battery. Toyota has two versions of this machine: the demonstration model that runs the trade show circuit and the real test model at its Takahama R&D facilities in Japan. Nothing was heard about the fuel cell truck that Toyota showed three years ago at CeMAT.
At CeMAT08 Fronius, the Austrian builder of controls for welding apparatus and battery chargers and now also a world leader in photovoltaic panels, demonstrated its Energy Cell. It built it on a Linde’s P30 Zug 050 warehouse tow truck. The H2-fuelcell - a PEM (polymer elektrolyte) - works at low temperatures (60 to 80°C). Fronius uses solar panels on the roof of its Sattledt-factory to generate the necessary hydrogen to run the machine.
Fronius sees its Energy Cell as a ‘total concept’ and envisions applications in material handling and cleaning machines with cells of 2kW/24V and 4 kW/48V. The Hylog has a handy ‘mains’ that can be tapped into for 230V 50Hz alternate current.
Rise in Dutch forklift incidents
Dutch industry association BMWT has reported an increase in forklift incidents in the Netherlands for the past four years.
BMWT says despite the heightened focus on safe work practices, forklift incidents have risen. In 2004, there were 127 incidents and three casualties; in 2005, 164 incidents and five casualties; in 2006, 182 incidents and four casualties; and in 2007, 193 incidents and four casualties.
The association says the incidents were mainly caused by human error – careless operators who underestimate risks, make wrong decisions and are not sufficiently alert at work.
The four most common incidents for the past four years are collisions, crushes, falling loads and falls from height.
BMWT represents importers and manufacturers of construction, warehouse and other equipment.
Charitable trust gives young offenders forklift
LEICESTER, United Kingdom
The only UK prison offering offenders a chance to work towards becoming certified forklift drivers when released has received a boost.
The Norman Gill Charitable Trust of Leicester, run by property developer Norman Gill, has donated a new forklift to the Glen Parva Young Offenders Institute that will be used by inmates on a two-week forklift course, Leicester Mercury reported.
David Summerton, the prison’s head of learning and skills, says the forklift will make a big difference.
“This gives the course a boost and the prisoners a chance of getting a job on the outside, reducing re-offending,” he said.
Thomas Kane from Nottingham, who is approaching the end of his sentence for robbery, has tried the forklift.
“Hopefully, this will get me a job when I am released. It is an expensive course to do on the outside,” the 18-year-old said.
About 150 prisoners have taken the forklift course since 2005.
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JLG awarded USD10.3M order
McCONNELLSBURG, PA, United States
JLG Industries Inc has received a USD10.3 million order for additional JLG Atlas telehandlers under the Foreign Military Sales contract from the US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command.
Denny Buterbaugh, vice president of government products and programs, says the Atlas models were designed specifically to meet the needs of the US military. They have been deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and throughout the US.
Over 2,300 Atlas machines have been deployed throughout the world. They can work in many types of environments including mud, sand, water, and other rough terrain. While many go into combat areas, the machines have also been used in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the Indonesian tsunami clean-up and other international relief efforts.
Atlas telehandlers can lift and place material weighing 10,000lbs (4,536kg) to nearly 17 feet (5.2 metres). With their detachable counterweight, they can be prepared for transportation on a C130 in 15 minutes. They are also transportable in C-141, C5A and C17 aircraft.
The 72 forklifts will be delivered over a six-month period.
BaxTek distributes Sky-Trax products
NEW CASTLE, DE, United States
BaxTek Solutions Inc of Atlanta, Georgia has entered into a value-added reseller agreement with warehouse tracking solutions provider Sky-Trax Inc.
Sky-Trax president and COO Larry Mahan says the company is excited to have systems integrator BaxTek distribute and carry its full line of Sky-Trax systems, individual components and installation services.
Sky-Trax’s main products consist of the Sky-Trax System, an “inch-accurate” tracking system for indoor forklifts and other industrial vehicles; Skan Free, an optical sensing-enabled data collection system; and Total Trax, an asset and inventory tracking system.
Sky-Trax products do not contain or use radio frequency technology but the Sky-Trax is able to integrate with any existing RFID system.
Wayne Baxter, BaxTek president, says he was impressed when he saw Sky-Trax’s products and management at the NA08 trade show in Cleveland, Ohio.
“BaxTek sees this product as one that will complement others in our line very quickly. We expect Sky-Trax to be an integral part of our growth in the years to come.”
According to Sky-Trax, there is a USD3.5 billion North American market for its products and USD4.5 billion internationally.
HSE probes latest Nestlé forklift incident
YORK, United Kingdom
UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators are probing the second forklift incident in little over a year at a chocolate factory.
According to York Press, a woman is understood to have broken both legs at the Nestlé factory on Wigginton Road in York.
A Nestlé Confectionary UK spokesman said the incident involved a long-serving employee who was driving a forklift as part of her duties.
The HSE had investigated another forklift incident that happened last April. A female employee suffered a crushed leg after being trapped by a pallet truck. Part of her leg was amputated, but she decided not to take any legal action.
In January 2008, the HSE said it had conducted a full and thorough investigation into the incident and no further action would be taken against Nestlé or any individual.
A factory employee told York Press that the staff had been shocked to hear about the latest incident. He believed the accident had occured in a KitKat manufacturing area.
Komatsu introduces new series, improves stackers
Komatsu Forklift Europe has introduced the diesel and LPG engine CX50 forklift series with 3.5-5 ton load capacities to the European market.
Manufactured at the Tochigi plant in Japan, the CX50 replaces the CX series introduced in 2004.
The new forklifts that are available globally through Komatsu Utility (Japan) and Komatsu USA are used in heavy industries like ports and shipping companies.
Komatsu has also updated its 1.05-1.2 ton MWS series electric pallet stackers with three-phase AC technology. The pallet stackers are 790mm (31 inches) wide and suitable for small and mid-sized company operations.
Hyster’s new warehouse forklift
FLEET, United Kingdom
Hyster Europe has unveiled its new K1.0M and K1.0H high-level order pickers that lift up to 8 metres with one tonne capacity.
The series has been equipped with 6.4kW AC traction motors to provide travel speeds of up to 8.8km/h fully loaded and 9km/h when unladen.
To lower energy consumption, Hyster says the forklifts employ regenerative braking and energy created from the chassis descent is fed back to the battery, saving energy and increasing battery life.
Yale forklifts give soccer fans a lift
FLEET, United Kingdom
Yale and its Swiss dealer Avesco AG are supplying Veracitor VX forklifts to help construct viewing arenas, giant video screens and hospitality areas throughout Switzerland for Euro 2008.
Each arena complex requires 350 tonnes of construction materials to erect the viewing stands and 19 tents.
The Yale 1.6-5.5 tonne counterbalanced forklifts will be used to unload vehicles and position building materials and stores on the different sites in 16 towns and cities in Switzerland.
Lift Depot in Profit 100 ranking
Forklift dealer Lift Depot Ltd has been ranked number 71 with a five-year revenue growth of 838% on the 20th annual Profit 100 ranking of Canada’s fastest-growing companies by Profit magazine.
Lift Depot president and founder Rob Daniel attributes the achievement to the company’s strong focus on customer service.
Profit 100 ranks Canada’s fastest-growing companies by five-year revenue growth. The list is published in the June issue of Profit and is available on www.profit100.com.
Toyota Financial staff educated on options
BEDFORD PARK, IL, United States
Toyota Financial Services has held an open house to explain its large capacity forklift financing programs to 400 staff members.
The educational event focused on the type of equipment Toyota Financial finances. Besides providing financing for purchase and rental of Toyota forklifts, the 400 attendees from Toyota Financial Services and Toyota Motor Services were enlightened on a variety of finance options for buying large capacity Hoist forklifts.
Movers & Shakers
OLATHE, KS, United States
Dan Oriente has been promoted to senior regional manager of business development at SMH. Oriente has been in the materials handling industry since 1991. He has worked in the parts and service departments of dealerships representing Clark, Mitsubishi, Daewoo, Crown and Nissan forklifts.
McCONNELLSBURG, PA, United States
JLG Industries has promoted Christopher Mellott to vice president of ground support. Mellott will be responsible for JLG’s global service centres and aftermarket parts business, including ground support strategies, initiatives and business development. He has worked in JLG since 1995 and has held management positions in sales, service, customer support and product management, most recently as vice president of customer assurance.
Peter Bondafede, senior vice president of operations, now has responsibility for ground support service centres and global parts distribution from an operational perspective.
Euro Power to represent Hoppecke
Hoppecke Germany has appointed Euro Power Australia Pty Ltd as the new sole distributor for the Oceania region. Under the deal, Euro Power will offer the full range of Hoppecke motive power batteries, chargers and accessories.
Euro Power is owned by the management of Hubtex Australia, a specialist side loader company, and it will start trading on August 1.
According to Bill Parry, managing director of Euro Power, the battery products have enormous potential, with the Australian motive power market approaching 200,000 cells in a market worth more than AUD60 million.
Parry notes the increased environmental awareness in the market, which also bodes well for the venture. “Battery electric forklifts and vehicles do not burn fossil fuels and have a significantly lower environmental footprint when compared to diesel and LPG gas models,” he says, adding that Hoppecke Motive Power has developed special technologies to minimise water as well as energy usage.
Hoppecke is a major player in the international battery market with an annual turnover in excess of EUR280 million and over 1,400 technical and engineering staff around the world.
Euro Power will operate a full warehouse at Riverstone, supported by the national network of branches and service infrastructure of Hubtex Australia. Hubtex has operations in Queensland, Victoria and WA.
Customers replace forklifts but retain brand
MOOREBANK, New South Wales, Australia
Toyota Material Handling has recently secured two new contracts to replace existing Toyota forklifts.
Mackay-based Porters has just commissioned a new 2.5-tonne Toyota 8-Series forklift at its Hardware and Lifestyle store, as part of a AUD10 million upgrade of the business.
The new machine replaces a Toyota 7-Series machine.
Assistant manager Scott Porter says the company is also poised to buy two new Raymond machines to improve space utilisation in its timber yard.
Its machines are supplied and serviced by Toyota Material Handling's North Queensland dealer, Tony Ireland Industrial Equipment.
"The Toyota forklifts are excellent machines and the operators like them," says Porter. "They are so reliable - all we do is have the regular service - and they suit our sort of business. They do the job in the tough environment of a timber yard."
Porter adds that the company already had seven Toyota forklifts at its building-related divisions in Mackay and its trade store in the Whitsundays.
Also sticking to the brand is earthmoving attachment company Digga Australia of New South Wales which has recently commissioned two new Toyota forklifts because of the brand’s reliability and the dealer’s outstanding service.
The company, which manufactures attachments and drilling equipment for hydraulic excavators, back-hoes and skid-steer loaders, recently took delivery of a new 2.5-tonne Toyota internal combustion forklift and a new 2.0-tonne battery electric machine from Toyota Material Handling NSW, based in Moorebank.
"We had a 1.5-tonne payload internal combustion Toyota machine that seemed to have been with us forever, but always lasted," says sales and admin manager, Nell Morandin of Digga Australia.
"We were very happy with the reliability of that machine and we commissioned two new forklifts, which have the latest productivity and safety features.
"In addition to the quality of the machines, we've been very happy with the whole purchase, commissioning and service experience, from the moment (Toyota Material Handling NSW area sales manager) Jeremy Sywak quoted on the machines.
"He arranged for a rental machine to keep production running when the old machine stopped, and showed us the Toyota Material Handling service facilities."
Begley identifies freight challenges
John Begley, chairman of the Victorian Freight and Logistics Council, spearheaded an ICHCA Australia renewal campaign as guest speaker at last month’s ICHCA Victoria lunch.
Begley tackled the lofty theme of “Moving Cargo in Victoria – What the state needs to meet the challenges ahead’’.
He explained that the government-appointed council has more than 100 members, representing government, industry and unions and represents a conduit between the private and public sectors.
In his overview of council activities, Begley stressed that “the VFLC is about our current needs but also, very importantly, about the future needs of freight and logistics in Victoria”.
He noted that from a humble base, transport and logistics have increased in importance in Victoria, now accounting for 15% of the Gross State Product.
Road transport remains the dominant mode in the state, with 90% of suppliers being small businesses, he explained. The state has 4,000 kilometres of rail track and so there are still gaps in the rail network as well as deficits in bridges, tunnels and signals.
He lamented the lack of investment in rail, especially given the growing road congestion and restrictions on “high-productivity” vehicles.
Indulging in some crystal ball gazing, Begley’s strong message was the need to move more freight by rail. He noted that freight always loses when there is inevitable conflict with passenger rail, highlighting the need for dedicated freight rail lines.
Begley also called for the establishment of intermodal terminals around the periphery of Melbourne which could also help address the need for empty container parks.
He called for improvements to road and rail access, saying “adequate land reservation for rail and road access are required now”.
The council, he said, would also like to see the development of intermodal terminals in rural Victoria.
“What’s needed,” he said, is “a realistic approach by all players”.
Begley also alluded to other future influences including the impact of Eastlink, Melbourne 2030 and the prospect of carbon trading.
Focus on rail intensifies
Higher fuel prices and concern about the environment have shifted attention to rail as a better option for freight transport.
In a world first, the Australian Rail Track Corporation hopes to double capacity on its national freight network by switching to a AUD500 million computerised management system that allows trains to run safely at shorter intervals, according to a report in The Australian.
The corporation has signed a AUD74.8 million deal with Lockheed Martin for a 120km proof-of-concept section from Adelaide to Port Augusta to test the Advanced Train Management System which does away with traditional signalling technology, which can force train intervals out to more than 60km.
To fix a train's position on the track, the system uses inertial guidance technology backed up by GPS. Location, speed, weight and engine data are constantly fed back into a central management system, which monitors train separations and can override the driver, if needed.
The system also operates as a computerised dead man's switch.
The system communicates with trains over Telstra's 3G network, backed up by the Iridium satellite phone network.
Under a separate AUD70 million contract with Telstra, about 800 locomotives that operate on the ARTC network are having their onboard communications systems upgraded to work with the new system.
When completed, the test system will be the only one on an operating railway line in the world.
MELBOURNE, Victoria, Australia
Toll boosts its WA presence
Australia’s largest logistics company, Toll Holdings, has boosted its presence in Western Australia with the decision last month to purchase courier transport and logistics company Courier Australia.
“This acquisition will boost Toll’s presence in Western Australia’s courier and express business segment and is another demonstration of Toll’s commitment to acquiring quality assets as opportunities present themselves,” says Paul Little, managing director of Toll Holdings.
Courier Australia, established in 1959, employs about 600 staff and independent contractors in Western Australia.
Brambles releases interim statement
Brambles Group sales for the 10 months from 1 July 2007 to 2 May 2008 were 13% higher than the prior corresponding period (6% in constant currency), reflecting continued sales growth across all regions of the group.
Since releasing its 2008 half year results on 21 February 2008, Brambles has bought back 29.2 million shares for a total consideration of AUD279.9 million.
The company will provide the market with its usual trading update on 24 June 2008.
Inflation is more immediate danger for Australia
MELBOURNE, Victoria, Australia
Australia and the United States of America face significant but different challenges to their economies.
Addressing the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia at a business luncheon in Melbourne last Friday, Glenn Stevens, governor of the Reserve Bank, said for the US, dealing with the fall-out of the financial excesses of earlier years looms large at present.
“This is not made any easier by the simultaneous lift in global commodity prices, which raises consumer prices but, in the US, also dampens economic activity,” he said.
“For Australia, the financial fall-out has been less severe, mainly because participation in the earlier excesses was so much smaller, while the very large change in prices for mineral and energy resources is the most expansionary external shock to affect the economy for 50 years or more. It has occurred at a time when the productive capacity of the economy has already been stretched by the long expansion.
“Hence, the prospect of inflation has presented a larger and more immediate danger to Australia than it has, thus far, to the US.”
He went on to say that inflation appears to be a bigger problem for much of the emerging world rather than the near or actual recession of the United States, or the credit crunch.
“I would venture a guess, in fact, that the number of countries where inflation is the major problem greatly exceeds, at present, the number where the predominant concern is inadequate growth.”
Stevens ended on a positive note. “One way or another, the near term continues to present challenges on both sides of the Pacific, as the two respective economies adjust to the shocks hitting us. But both of these economies are pretty adaptable. There is no reason why, with sensible policy frameworks, competitive and innovative firms, and capable and industrious workforces, they should not continue to prosper over the long term,” he concluded.
Black Friday for Babcock & Brown
SYDNEY, New South Wales, Australia
Australia’s international investment and specialised fund and asset management group, Babcock & Brown, had a torrid time last week with its share price being shredded from AUD11.16 to touch a record low of AUD4. 70, before settling at AUD5.24 on Friday It has since recovered somewhat to AUD6.80 on Thursday 19 June. The collapse was sparked by analysts’ concern over the company’s debt levels.
The company’s financial rating has been downgraded by Standard & Poor to BB+, a move which B&B said was consistent with S&P’s move to downgrade other financial-related stocks around the world and not based on any information provided to it by the company or the facility lenders. It added that the change in rating does not constitute a review event or event of default, or otherwise entitle any lender to require a prepayment of any financing facility with the B&B Group.
Despite the market drubbing, the company boldly announced on Friday that it had negotiated, structured, arranged financing for and advised a consortium of investors on the successful GBP3.6 billion (AUD7.5 billion) acquisition of Angel Trains from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Angel Trains is the leading freight and passenger rolling stock provider operating in both the UK and Continental Europe.
This week, the company said it intends to immediately recommend the appointment of independent chairmen to the boards of the four Australian listed funds that do not already have independent chairmen, namely Babcock & Brown Infrastructure, Babcock & Brown Power, Babcock & Brown Wind Partners and Babcock & Brown Residential Land Partners.
Phil Green, B&B chief executive, said: “We will move as quickly as possible to restore investor confidence in a decisive yet orderly manner.”
He added that the company will continue “the asset recycling and freeing up of capital that has previously been outlined to the market; de-leveraging our balance sheet and, further, will move to narrow our investment focus to core activities including development and co-investment.”
Babcock & Brown has a significant pipeline of assets in greenfields development including wind (16,000 MW), solar (1,400 MW) and gas-fired power generation.
The company stated that during this week, it will receive first round indicative offers for the unique portfolios of European wind energy assets. Based on the level of interest received and current indications, these sales are expected to be finalised in the third quarter and reach financial close either simultaneously or early in the fourth quarter of 2008. This process is being conducted in conjunction with Babcock & Brown Wind Partners.
“Our employees remain strongly aligned and committed to the ongoing success of Babcock & Brown and its listed and unlisted funds. We have received significant levels of support from our partners globally who recognise the depth and expertise of Babcock & Brown’s people and business as evidenced by the announcement of the Angel Trains transaction in the UK last week. As always we will continue to update the market on the outlook for the business,” Green concluded.
New national employment standards released
CANBERRA, ACT, Australia
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Julia Gillard this week released the new National Employment Standards (NES).
The NES will come into effect on 1 January 2010 and aim to ensure that all employees are protected by a safety net of fair minimum conditions.
The NES will apply to all employees in the federal system, regardless of industry, occupation or income.
The NES are:
• Maximum weekly hours of work
• Request for flexible working arrangements
• Parental leave and related entitlements
• Annual leave
• Personal/Carer’s leave and compassionate leave
• Community service leave
• Long service leave
• Public holidays
• Notice of termination and redundancy pay
• Fair Work Information Statement
The government will shortly issue a revised Award Modernisation Request to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), attaching the NES to assist in its task of modernising awards.
The NES and award modernisation are integral components of the government’s commitment to deliver a modern workplace relations system to benefit all Australians.
Legislation will be introduced into parliament later this year to give effect to the government’s commitment. The legislation will include other aspects of workplace relations relating to the NES including compliance, interaction with agreement making and future reviews.
More details on the National Employment Standards can be found at www.workplace.gov.au
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Atlet Adds Weight To Paper Partnership
Since the beginning of 2007 leading paper merchant Antalis has been rationalising its warehouse truck fleet to standardise on just two suppliers, including Atlet. During this time Atlet has delivered over 70 trucks to various sites throughout the UK and worked with Antalis to improve overall fleet performance with lower overall cost of ownership, reduced downtime through a combination of full-service and preventative maintenance and aligned truck provision with operational requirements.
Click here for the full text of this release, including pictures.
Systems Material Handling Promotes Dan Oriente promoted to Senior Regional Manager
SMH is pleased to announce the promotion of Dan Oriente to Senior Regional Manager of Business Development. Dan has done a outstanding job managing his region, working with the inside sales team, his customers and SMH management.
Click here for the full text of this release, including pictures.
Joseph Hrinik: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Waters, MI, United States
Joseph Hrinik lives in Michigan (USA) where he retired after 40 years of diversified occupational health and safety experience in both the private and public sectors. He is currently researching regional and national forklift safety legislation and forklift training programs.
Click here for the full Safety First feature, including pictures.
Laadur OÜ, Yale's official dealer in the Baltic countries, celebrated its 15th anniversary last week. In 1993, it became the first forklift dealer in Estonia to offer an alternative to the ubiquitous Balkancar trucks.
Click here for the full Industry Profile feature, including pictures.
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