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|Normally, the end of the year is a frustrating period, with businesses closed, orders grinding to a halt and service on hold. This year, however, the December industry slow-downs may be a blessing in disguise. Around the world, manufacturers are reducing production and trimming staff hours. Even in China, some are moving to the previously unheard-of two-day weekend. So a bit of time off is probably not a bad thing at all. However, looking to the long-term, perhaps many players need to re-evaluate their business plans. We’ve come to accept double-digit annual growth as the norm and perhaps now is a good time to rethink those expectations and plan for more modest markets. Another valuable use of any downtime might be to treat yourself to more time on this website, seeing what your peers, competitors and customers are doing. |
|Cargotec to merge UK sales operations |
Shropshire, United Kingdom
|Cargotec is merging its UK sales and service operations by combining Hiab Ltd and Moffett Truck Mounted Forklift (TMF). From January 2009, Moffett TMF sales and service will be reporting to Hiab Ltd. |
Ismo Leppanen, managing director of Hiab, says the integration of Moffett into Hiab will help the organisation focus on a common customer base.
“Tough market conditions and reduction in market demand has prompted us to act swiftly and improve the economics of our distribution and service network in the UK."
Hiab is an importer and distributor of Hiab loader cranes, Loglift forestry cranes, Jonsered recycling cranes and Multilift demountable systems. Moffett Ltd the inventor of the truck-mounted forklifts.
"This development is part of the global ‘On The Move’ program, which will create more efficient organisations around the world,” Leppanen says.
“Ultimately, the UK will have one trading company - Cargotec Ltd - with centralised support functions and more integrated sales organisations for Hiab, Kalmar and McGregor products."
|Crown withdraws factory offer, protects colour |
Connersville, IN, United States
|Crown Equipment Corp has withdrawn an offer to buy a former Visteon Corp automotive parts plant in Connersville, the Palladium-Item of Richmond, Indiana reported on 3 December. Crown submitted a letter of intent in October.|
An executive at New Bremen, Ohio-based Crown and municipal officials in Connersville declined to comment on the business decision.
Visteon discontinued production in the 1.6-million square foot (144,000 sqm) factory in December 2007. The plant made vehicle heating and cooling systems and, at one time, employed more than 3,000 people.
About five miles away and also in Connersville, privately owned Crown operates a machine shop that stamps metal components for lines of Crown forklifts.
Ford Motor Co spun off its Visteon automotive systems unit in 2000. On 14 November, the New York Stock Exchange notified Visteon of Van Buren Township, Michigan that the firm’s stock had fallen below the exchange’s listing standard requiring a minimum average closing price of not less than USD1 during a consecutive 30-day period.
Meanwhile, Crown has resolved a trademark dispute with E-P Equipment Co Ltd of Hangzhou, China and subsidiary E-P Equipment USA Corp of Inman, South Carolina.
Crown and E-P agreed to end the trademark issue, which stems from E-P expropriating a particular Crown-protected beige colour on certain material handling equipment.
Crown has trademarks for the colour in the US, Canada and Australia and has applied in other countries for colour protection.
E-P agreed to stop using beige as a colour on certain material handling equipment and making use of the colour in promotional materials and, by 19 May, to make sure its dealers, distributors and direct customers discontinue using beige in their promotional materials.
|Combilift wins export award |
Gallinagh, Monaghan, Ireland
|Irish materials handling manufacturer Combilift Ltd has won the Irish Exporters Association’s Exporter of the Year award. The company was also presented with the Manufacturing Exporter Award 2008 in recognition of its export achievements. |
Martin McVicar, managing director of Combilift, says the company has worked hard to offer a customised range to suit various individual requirements across industry sectors. “This customer-led approach has been a strong component of our success, setting us apart from mainstream manufacturers.
“On behalf of the management and staff of Combilift who have worked hard towards the company’s success, I wish to thank the Irish Exporters Association for this award.”
The Manufacturing Exporter Award is presented in recognition of export achievements and the securing and building of new markets.
Combilift won the overall award because of its performance in developing and exporting what it claims is the world’s first engine-powered, multi-directional forklift.
|NMHG, GE extend financing program |
Portland, OR, United States
|Nacco Materials Handling Group (NMHG) and the capital solutions unit of conglomerate General Electric Co (GE) have renewed a vendor financing program agreement for five years.|
“In this challenging economy, we’re committed to providing our dealerships and their customers with simple, competitive financing options,” says Colin Wilson, chief operating officer and Americas president for Portland-based NMHG. “GE has been a key to NMHG’s strategy.”
NMHG and GE have collaborated for 19 years under a financial services joint venture.
“Globally, NMHG financial services generates USD1 billion in wholesale and retail financing annually,” noted Gary Kempinski, general manager of vendor program finance for the GE unit in Danbury, Connecticut. “The program is one of GE Capital Solutions’ most significant relationships.”
NMHG, a principal business of publicly traded Nacco Industries Inc, operates through the Hyster and Yale brands of forklifts and aftermarket parts and reported profit of USD39.3 million on 2007 sales of USD2.72 billion.
|Sky-Trax announces new Nigerian partnership |
New Castle, Delaware, United States
|Optical technology specialist Sky-Trax Inc has joined forces with a Nigerian aviation and materials handling company to bring warehousing solutions to the aero-logistics industry in Africa.|
AeroLogistics is Sky-Trax’s newest partner and reseller. The company joins Sky-Trax’s premier partners value-added reseller (VAR) program and is now an official distributor of Sky-Trax products and systems, individual components, and installation and technical services.
Larry Mahan, president and chief operating officer of Sky-Trax, says the partnership with AeroLogistics is exciting. “Nigeria is a unique marketplace with great opportunities,” he says. “AeroLogistics is the right partner to develop these opportunities and to introduce our product line to the logistics market there.”
Okey Ikeri, CEO of AeroLogistics, says his company is happy to be part of the introduction of the latest optical technology in Nigeria. “We are pleased to be associated with the vision behind Sky-Trax’s revolutionary Real Time Location System.
“As business partners of Sky-Trax, we are delighted to be an integral part of providing materials handling companies with the opportunity to achieve safe and efficient warehouse operations.”
|Five-year forklift warranty on offer |
Berkshire, United Kingdom
|Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks is offering a five-year warranty package on its UK products. |
The package offers low operating costs and long-term protection against unexpected repairs. The warranty is valid even after the forklift is sold.
Mike Jones, general manager of Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks UK, says the package gives the company’s clients excellent product support. “To gain the full advantage of Mitsubishi’s dependability, our forklifts and customers need to be assured of excellent back-up.
“That is why we choose the dealers in our network carefully and why we have invested so much, and continue to invest, in the training and in the electronic systems,” he says.
“Our combination of product reliability and support is possible through the partnership Mitsubishi has with its local dealer network. It’s why Mitsubishi can offer such an extensive and comprehensive warranty package.”
Forkliftaction.com News recently reported on moves in the United States towards extended warranties (Forkliftaction.com News #387).
|Raymond offers disaster recovery services |
Green, NY, United States
|Raymond Corp and its authorised service centre network have honed customised planning and preparedness services to help customers cope with a disaster or emergency.|
“As part of our plan, we speak with our customer contacts on a regular basis as a storm approaches to find out how many stores are expected to be affected by the hurricane,” says Edgar Warriner, Raymond vice president of national accounts. Service centres in an area can stage equipment outside a hurricane region for quick delivery after the storm subsides.
The aim is to resume customer material handling operations in warehouses, distribution centres and retail outlets and minimise forklift downtime.
After Hurricane Ike attacked the Gulf Coast in September 2008, four branches of Malin Integrated Handling Solutions in Texas and Louisiana provided extra equipment to 30 home improvement retail stores - including 61 fully charged Raymond electric forklifts and extra batteries. Raymond with Addison, Texas-based Malin and the unidentified retailer had developed a disaster recovery plan that included having fully charged equipment available to serve an expected business surge during the initial rebuilding phase.
Often, a disaster causes power outages that prevents recharging forklift batteries.
The service centre network of Greene-based Raymond includes 21 North American dealerships with 105 branches and more than 2,200 service technicians.
|New offerings from Komatsu and Yale |
|Komatsu Forklift has introduced a new pedestrian low-lift pallet truck that is capable of moving pallets over short distances.|
The MWP14-1Rac model has a 1.4-tonne capacity and can be stored on board trucks for loading and unloading operations. It is equipped with two 12-volt batteries and an onboard high frequency charger.
This new model is the latest in Komatsu’s MWP series, which has 10 different versions ranging up to three-tonne capacity.
Yale has launched a new generation of electric counterbalance forklifts that has a ‘one size fits all’ seating design.
The VT and VF series features a new full-comfort seat designed in partnership with seat manufacturer Sears. The new forklifts can accommodate over 95% of operators in the height range of 160cm (5.24 foot) to 194cm (6.36 foot).
Yale engineers worked with a Finnish industrial design consultancy on the changing size of operators to develop an ergonomically advanced operator-working environment.
The VT and VF series has a low step height with three-point, easy access to the forklift, generous headroom and good forward visibility through the new 'clear view' mast.
The forklifts are available in lift capacities from 1.5 to 2.0 tonnes. The new extended steering axle of the VF model is capable for handling Euro-pallets. This allows the truck to operate in many existing three-wheel aisles while having four-wheel operating characteristics for indoor or outdoor applications.
|CONEXPO Russia date change |
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
|The global economic slowdown has taken its first toll on industry events, with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) postponing CONEXPO Russia. The event will be held in 2010, not 2009 as originally announced, to give the global economy time to recover.|
The event management committee’s decision also took into consideration the need to give companies more time to include the event in their 2010 budgets.
Natalia Alexeeva, chairperson of the committee, says the decision to postpone the event is a wise one. "The CONEXPO Russia management committee has wisely decided to look for the maximum benefits for attendees, manufacturers and exhibitors in the next show.
“The decision to hold the next CONEXPO Russia in 2010 instead of 2009 demonstrates our strong commitment to looking for the best way to offer a superior show experience in the most cost-efficient manner. Those involved in planning the next CONEXPO Russia see the greatest benefit resulting from this decision,” he says.
A number of exhibitors at the recent CeMat Asia expressed concerns about the frequency of events in the forklift sector, saying there were too many competing for exhibitor and buyer attention in the current economic environment (Forkliftaction.com News #385).
CONEXPO Russia will be held from May 19 to 22, 2010 at the Transport Exhibition Complex (TEC) in Moscow.
|Biggest business issues for 2009 |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Business executives expect further declines in sales and profits into 2009 as credit market conditions, a volatile Australian dollar and inflationary pressures impact on prospects.|
The latest Dun & Bradstreet survey reveals some 48% of executives have been negatively impacted by changing credit market conditions and three-quarters (73%) have been hurt by the dramatic fall in the Aussie dollar since July. Wholesale businesses have reported the largest swing, with 43% indicating a positive impact in July and 89% now indicating that the dollar is negatively affecting their operation.
Recent downward movements in petrol prices are showing through, with a 42% decline since September in the number of executives negatively affected by fuel costs.
Despite suggestions that inflation is coming under control, executives are indicating that price rises will occur in the March 2009 quarter. Selling price expectations have risen by 34% over the past nine months to reach the highest level ever recorded by the survey. Eighty two per cent of executives indicate that they will raise prices in the New Year.
Despite the gloomy forecast, Dr Duncan Ironmonger, Dun & Bradstreet's economic consultant, says Australia will come through the current global downturn in better shape than most industrial countries.
"The federal government and Reserve Bank have the capacity to stimulate economic growth and have indicated that they will use that capacity as necessary throughout 2009," says Dr Ironmonger.
"If world oil prices remain low, Australians should receive some relief on cost pressures.
"The lower value of the Australian dollar will encourage domestic spending and exports; however, it will discourage imports."
|Christmas rush can impact warehouse safety|
Laverton North, Victoria, Australia
|With the Christmas season the busiest time for many businesses, it’s essential that high standards of traffic management are maintained, particularly when it comes to pedestrians and forklifts.|
“There will be a lot of pressure to get stock into and out of warehouses, shops and shopping centres in the next few weeks,” says WorkSafe executive director John Merritt. “That’s why having good traffic management which separates pedestrians and forklifts saves lives.
“A reflective vest is little protection against a forklift if the business does not have safe systems in place and if it does not ensure drivers are properly trained and licensed and using a seatbelt.
“At this time of year, many people in these environments are young and/or inexperienced. They’re at risk if they’re not properly inducted and know the rules about working in areas with forklifts or being able to take shortcuts.
“Having safe forklift management practices reduces risks and ensures everyone will make it to Christmas and beyond.”
According to Merritt, six people have died at work as a result of crushing injuries this year. Although they have been in different working environments, most have involved machines.
Earlier this month, a County Court judge convicted and fined a cold storage company AUD175,000 when a worker died after being struck and killed by a forklift.
A.B. Oxford Cold Storage Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to workplace health and safety charges before Judge Michael Bourke.
WorkSafe’s investigation of the incident found the company did not have any adequate traffic management system in place when 38-year-old Stephen Peluso of Elwood was hit by a forklift and died on 13 April 2005.
|Skilling the existing workforce |
Canberra, ACT, Australia
|There’s a growing trend for companies to turn to their existing workforce to meet their skilling needs.|
An Australian Industry Group (AIG) report launched this week highlights the changing nature of workplace training and makes recommendations for government policies to support business training efforts.
AIG chief executive Heather Ridout says the report was begun two years ago in an economic climate characterised by sustained growth and endemic skills shortages. “Two years on, this report is being released into a different and very uncertain environment; the economy is contracting and there is extreme pressure on budgets, particularly training budgets.”
She warns companies not to repeat the mistakes of the past in training. “Skills will remain central to competitiveness and it is vitally important to underpin our investment in skills so that we can survive the economic crisis and emerge to be more productive in the future.”
The project identified that workplaces are becoming increasingly important sites of learning. Companies are using their own resources or working in partnership with education and training providers, workplace trainers, facilitators, and through change management and continuous improvement processes.
Skilling the existing workforce has become a major priority across industry.
The report’s recommendations include:
• Developing a workforce skills development advisory network in which independent advisors would work with enterprises.
• Establishing a workforce skills development fund.
• Establishing a national workforce literacy strategy.
• Building understanding and capability in Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) of workforce skills development.
• Increasing priority for investment in workplace and organisational learning programs.
• Continuing to advocate and support flexible, demand- and outcomes-based funding.
|NTP supplies Virgin Blue |
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
|NTP Forklifts Australia is delivering 10 Taylor Dunn B-248 burden carriers to Virgin Blue, following an order placed in early October.|
Designed and manufactured in the US, the Model B series are equipped with GT electric drive train and fitted with flashing lights and tow hitches and are suitable for use in an airport operation.
|Project to improve freight access to port |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Victoria’s AUD38 billion transport project will remove thousands of trucks from Melbourne’s residential streets and improve freight access to the Port of Melbourne.|
According to Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas, the two-stage project would include a new link from the West Gate Freeway into the Port of Melbourne via Hyde Street and upgrades to other roads.
The project is expected to generate up to 10,000 jobs a year during construction, resulting in more than 100,000 jobs over the life of the plan.
Pallas says the first stage will deliver a new link at Hyde Street, opening up access for trucks heading along the West Gate Freeway and Princes Highway, as well as traffic from the Western Ring Road.
Hyde and Whitehall Streets will also be upgraded as part of the plan to provide efficient access to and from the Port of Melbourne.
The second stage will upgrade Sunshine Road, Dempster Street and Paramount Road, which will link with and complement the new road tunnel to be built between Geelong Road and the Port of Melbourne.
“The Truck Action Plan will work in conjunction with the new road tunnel, costing more than AUD2.8 billion, and running from Geelong Road, West Footscray, to Footscray/Dynon roads in the Port of Melbourne precinct,” he says.
“The efficient movement of freight affects our everyday lives, the delivery of our household goods and the number of jobs in Victoria – and that freight task is expected to double in the next 20 years.”
Pallas says the Brumby government recognises the importance of the freight industry to the state’s economy and has made significant investment in key freight projects across Victoria in its Freight Futures strategy.
|Forklifts used to steal grog|
Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia
|Thieves broke into a business in Muswellbrook last week and used two forklifts to load 11 pallets of beer and spirits onto a truck.|
According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, police officers discovered the fully laden truck on the side of the motorway with the engine still running and keys in the ignition after thieves abandoned it.
According to police, it appears they panicked and left the truck where it could be found. “The truck was towed to a secure holding yard at Gosford until the owner could collect it. The total value of the alcohol was about AUD30,000."
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|Save aisle space with Fiora forklifts |
|Lateral lift trucks (sideloaders) fulfil the need to minimize aisle widths in warehouses and to create more storage space by making best use of the warehouse heights. Since 1957, FIORA is specialized in designing, building and selling lift trucks with lateral, retractable, multidirectional forks and 4-way sideloaders. FIORA trucks can be driven both sideways and head-on and can rotate 360 degrees. FIORA markets its sideloaders through a specialized sales network and always guarantees a prompt and professional service.|
Click here for the full text of this release, including pictures.
|Atlet pleases Waitrose Partners |
|Innovative and creative solution and expert project management by Atlet has helped Waitrose boost productivity and eliminate manual battery handling at its Aylesford distribution centre. Atlet undertook the design and oversaw the entire materials handling equipment and battery change project as well as supplying a new fleet of reach trucks, order pickers, pallet transporters, counterbalance and hand pallet trucks.|
Click here for the full text of this release, including pictures.
|New is not always best|
Frank Sterner of SJF Material Handling, Inc. questions the conventional wisdom of single-brand fleets, new forklifts only and original parts.
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Editorial Calendar 2009
Rough Terrain forklifts
Safety products in MH
Forklift Market in Canada
Forklift Market in the United Kingdom
Fleet & Asset management
Narrow Aisle forklifts
Forklift batteries and power solutions
Forklift Market in India