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|This is the last edition of Forkliftaction.com News for 2008 – and what a year it’s been. We’ve seen a huge turn-out of visitors at CeMAT in Germany and record attendance at the Asian version of the exhibition in Shanghai. We’ve seen more consolidation in the industry, with speculation that more will follow in the early part of 2009. But probably the most enduring memento of 2008 will be the fall-out from the credit crisis and global slowdown.|
Of course, all of this action has meant some lively newsletters this year, with the addition of a US bureau chief, Roger Renstrom, well timed to ensure even more coverage of North America.
So as we prepare for a couple of weeks off, the whole team at Forklitfaction.com would like to thank all our editorial contributors, readers and advertisers for their support over the past 12 months.
We look forward to working with you all again in 2009.
|More UK forklift companies saved by capital injections |
London, United Kingdom
|By Bill Redmond|
Alongside substantial capital injections to Linde UK, Britain’s biggest forklift manufacturer, two more large forklift operators in Britain have needed rescue cash injections to shore up their weak balance sheets. They are Barloworld Handling Ltd and Jungheinrich UK Ltd, both subsidiaries of global companies.
The UK forklift environment has never been easy on most participants, typified by intense cut-throat competition and too much capacity. If it were not for the large degree of foreign ownership of UK-based forklift companies, many would not have survived, despite market consolidation through the disappearance of many UK brands over the last three decades.
Long since a mature industry and accurate bellweather of economic change, forklifts in Britain are entering a pronounced downswing. Already, UK sales of all types of powered forklifts in the first 10 months of 2008 are down by 3,973 trucks to 23,780 compared with the same period last year. All the indications are that it will be much worse next year with deteriorating pension scheme deficits straining balance sheets even more.
Barloworld Handling, reporting on its UK results in 2007, said that the year showed continued focus on the key business segments following the restructure that had taken place in the prior year. Yet its pre-tax loss on ordinary activities was GBP6.4 million (USD9.61million), (2006 loss was GBP4.5 million or USD6.76 million), although some GBP4.1 million (USD6.1 million) of that was increased funding for its deficit on the defined benefit pension scheme, where the net pension liability stood at GBP42.3 million (usd63.5 million). This brings the accumulated, pre-tax losses for 2004-2007 to around GBP15.7 million (USD23.5 million). No dividends were paid for 2006 and 2007. Turnover rose from GBP123 million (USD184 million) in 2006 to GBP133.8 million (USD201 million) last year while negative working capital climbed GBP1.5 million (USD2.25 million) to GBP13 million (USD19.5 million) and bank overdrafts soared from GBP15.8 million (USD 23.7million) to GBP22.7 million (USD34.1 million). Stocks also rose worryingly by around 50% to GBP13.2million (USD19.8 million).
To offset the deteriorating balance sheet, the company issued 837,000 GBP1(USD1.50) shares at GBP4 (USD6) a share to another Barlow company, giving a much welcome share premium boost, but a poor 2008 could leave that injection looking threadbare.
At Jungheinrich, where post-tax losses for 2007 deepened to GBP4 million (USD6 million), despite a 16% sales rise to GBP132.2 million (USD198.8 million), the need for a capital infusion was much more pressing. Like Barloworld Handling, Jungheinrich lost almost as much over 2004-2007, but in July this year it received a GBP49 million (USD73.6 million) injection to strengthen the balance sheet. It said that its net liabilities position resulted from years of trading losses and the recognition of the pensions scheme deficit. “Considerable efforts have been directed to successfully eliminating aged debt and reducing the level of stocks held,” said the company. But it admits that “the devaluation of the pound against the Euro presents very real problems to businesses such as Jungheinrich who are dependent on high import volumes from the Eurozone. Nonetheless, with a high carry forward order book from 2007 and very strong enquiry levels in 2008, the directors are confident that the business is well placed to further improve its operational performance.”
That comment, however, is months old and must now have a hollow ring. In an update on third quarter trading this year, Jungheinrich expects to achieve global sales of over EUR2.1 billion (USD2.83 billion) for 2008 but admits that world-wide demand for material handling equipment in the third quarter of 2008 fell by 4% compared with the same period last year owing to the global economic downturn. Sensibly, the company is slowing down its investment program but it would not be surprising if the UK operation needed another helping hand soon.
The pain in deteriorating UK markets was also felt by Cargotec’s two UK subsidiaries, Hiab, the lorry loader specialist, and Moffett, which produces truck-mounted forklifts. These two companies will merge their UK sales operations in January 2009. “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,” said Ismo Leppanen, MD of Hiab.
Not all the major UK players, however, reported dismal 2007 results. Nacco Materials Handling Ltd, producer of the Hyster and Yale brands, showed UK sales rising 14.4% to GBP436.6 million (USD656.2 million) and pre-tax profits up GBP3.89 million (USD5.84 million) to GBP7.6 million (USD11.4 million).
|California delays emission enforcement |
Sacramento, CA, United States
|The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is delaying enforcement of new regulations for off-road large spark-ignition (LSI) engines powering forklifts and other equipment from 1 January to, at the earliest, 1 April.|
Further, ARB is allowing any purchase of equipment or retrofit kits until 31 March to be included in the calculation for determining compliance with the new fleet average emission-level standard. To qualify under this provision, an operator needs to apply any purchased forklift to equipment being replaced or removed from a fleet.
ARB posted the LSI advisory on its website on 11 December, and the agency is taking other steps “to remind people of the compliance date”, says Mark Williams, air pollution specialist in ARB’s mobile source control division. The ARB website has detailed explanations and, on 12 pages, answers to 54 frequently asked questions about the requirements.
ARB intends to begin enforcement but may have difficulty achieving compliance as credit woes and shrinking markets impose tough economic conditions for many forklift users.
Dealers are co-operating with ARB in communicating the details.
Conversion can be costly for a forklift owner and profitable for a dealership, notes Jeff Howard with Myers Select Material Handling in Anaheim, California.
Howard says he has talked with about 80 companies about the requirements and supplied quotations to 30 of them. “No-one has jumped” so far, and he does not expect to see conversions become routine until “the state comes and tells us to do it”. Howard is south Orange County territory manager for Myers Select.
“We are notifying customers,” says Tim Rhodes, manager of the Ontario, California branch of Clarklift of California Inc.
“We have been starting in the last year to get customers compliant,” observes Ray Lamkin with the Sacramento, California location for Team Power forklifts and tractors.
Principal suppliers of LSI engine retrofit kits are Nett Technologies Inc and Engine Control Systems (ECS). Both are located in the Canadian province of Ontario, with Nett in Mississauga and ECS in Thornhill. Catalytic Solutions Inc of Oxnard, California acquired ECS in 2007.
The California Air Resources Board is "giving people a little extra time to bring fleets into compliance", says Wayne Borean, Nett co-ordinator for sales to original equipment manufacturers. "A lot of people in California still do not know about the regulation. The ARB has been trying to get the word out to fleet owners, but there are many small and medium fleets who are still not aware of it."
ARB wants owners to retrofit existing machines with catalytic converter systems. In adding another wrinkle to its regulations, ARB switched to metric measurements from imperial measurements on 1 January 2007.
“This means that your engine, if it was built before 1 January 2007, may have a label that says 3.0 grams/BHP-hour,” Borean says. “An end-user may think that he is already in compliance, as the large fleet requirement is 3.2 grams. But this is grams/kW-hour, and when you convert 3.0 grams/BHP-hour to metric, it's 4.0 grams/kW-hour.”
Borean says Nett has developed a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to help forklift owners calculate what they need to comply. The spreadsheet includes an imperial-to-metric conversion table. “It is easier for people if they have this spreadsheet,” Borean notes, indicating he can email a copy to any interested party.
ARB, a unit of the California Environmental Protection Agency, has explored ways to control emissions for decades. In May 2006, ARB strengthened its emission standards and test procedures for off-road LSI engines powering forklifts, airport ground support equipment, sweeper/scrubbers and industrial tugs, known as tow tractors. Those four categories account for approximately 94% of the total hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions from LSI engines, ARB indicates. More than 90,000 off-road LSI engines operate in California, and many have no emission controls.
ARB has made the standards more stringent over time and was targeting 1 January as the effective date for the first fleet average emission-level standard. Stricter fleet average requirements are scheduled for implementation at the start of 2011 and 2013.
Now, the date is 1 April for initial enforcement, but some observers wonder in these economic conditions whether owners of forklifts and other equipment can fund new compliant equipment or a retrofit that may cost USD3,000 to USD5,000 per forklift.
|JCB to up-skill employees |
|Over 2,000 JCB employees will take part in a training initiative in early January to equip them with the skills needed to weather the economic downturn. |
Employees at the Midlands and Wales factories will take part in the biggest training initiative in JCB’s history.
Matthew Taylor, CEO of JCB, says the company has always placed a huge emphasis on training employees. “However, the impact of the economic downturn means this takes on even more significance,” he says. “We are committed to ensuring our employees are equipped with the right skills to deal with the economic turbulence and to have the skills to harness the opportunities that will be there for growth when the recovery arrives.”
Employees will receive qualifications in lean manufacturing, a Chartered Institute of Environmental Health course covering health and safety in the workplace and qualifications in performing manufacturing operations and business improvement technologies.
In addition, JCB supervisory management will have five days of training in management skills and techniques.
JCB will also deliver a range of internally organised training courses that will cover team leading, fabrication and welding, lean manufacturing and operational efficiency.
Shopfloor workers at the two JCB factories in Wrexham will undergo training in business improvement skills and reducing inventory as well as receiving specific tuition on assembly line and machinery use techniques.
JCB is a UK–based construction equipment manufacturer and has been manufacturing Loadalls since 1977.
|Sauer-Danfoss sells business and reduces earnings |
|Manufacturer of hydraulic systems for mobile machinery, Sauer-Danfoss, has announced it will sell its AC motor business to Schabmuller because of disappointing sales figures.|
The sale of the Danish-based business should be finalised in January 2009 after clearance from the German antitrust authority. The sale will result in a one-time charge of USD10 million or 17 cents per share. Sauer-Danfoss did not reveal how much Schabmuller is paying for the business.
David J. Anderson, president and CEO of Sauer-Danfoss, says the business did not meet earnings expectations. “The AC motor business had sales of about USD35 million for 2008,” he says. “We are retaining the technology as well as the engineering and production capabilities, which will allow us to work on electrification solutions for off-road vehicle applications.”
Electric motor manufacturer Schabmuller was taken over by Sauer-Danfoss in 2002 and was released out of the group in 2007.
Sauer-Danfoss also announced it had reduced its earnings guidance for 2008 to between 75 and 85 cents per share from its previous earnings guidance of USD1.15 to USD1.25 per share, to reflect the impact from the sale and further deteriorating conditions in its end markets.
"Our markets in the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific continue to deteriorate at a rapid pace as a result of the global credit crisis and general economic conditions, with customers pushing out orders on very short notice," says Anderson.
|DP World orders 15 straddle carriers |
Southampton, United Kingdom
|Terminal operator DP World has ordered 15 Kalmar straddle carriers for its Southampton terminal. The machines will be delivered in the first half of 2009.|
Two of the machines will be fitted with Kalmar’s new hybrid technology package and if they perform as expected, it is possible the remaining 13 will be upgraded.
DP World’s order includes seven Kalmar ESC 350W straddle carriers capable of stacking one-over-two high with a lifting capacity of 50 tonnes and eight ESC 440W machines that can stack one-over-three high with a lifting capacity of 40 tonnes.
Ilkka Annala, straddle carriers vice president of Kalmar Industries, says DP World Southampton will work the two new hybrids side-by-side with the other straddle carriers. “If the hybrid package proves its worth in this operation, the 13 other Kalmar straddle carriers can be upgraded.
“In our own trials, we have seen considerable fuel savings when compared to standard machines and are confident that the hybrids will produce significant savings for our customers.”
The hybrid technology package is a modular option that results in fuel savings of up to 25% to 30% and is capable of delivering more moves with less fuel. Kalmar estimates this new technology can eliminate more than 50 tonnes of CO2 emissions per straddle carrier per year.
|Fuel cells make progress in forklift world |
Washington, DC, United States
|As the forklift industry climbs the fuel cell learning curve, more trials and demonstrations are giving substance to the technology’s potential.|
In spreading the message, the Washington-based National Hydrogen Association (NHA) organised a 10 December webinar with presentations from a Raymond Corp manager and a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) subcontractor.
NHA aims to break down the commercialisation barriers to the use of hydrogen as an energy source.
Steve Medwin says the fuel cell industry has made significant technical and commercial progress, and “the real work experience is increasing.”
Medwin, manager of advanced research with Greene, New York-based Raymond, serves as chair of a newly formed energy storage system (ESS) committee of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA). Over four years, Medwin has evaluated the use of fuel cells for powering material handling equipment.
Unlike batteries, fuel cells operate the same whether in a cold or hot environment, Medwin says. “Cold storage may be the ‘killer app’ for fuel cells. Batteries do not do well in cold storage.”
Medwin says the US market for forklift fuel cell implementation is ahead of the markets in Europe and Japan.
He believes the value proposition for fuel cells in forklifts has improved, particularly with the increased tax credit available under the Emergency Economic Stabilisation Act of 2008. The tax credit is USD3,000 per kilowatt-hour or 30% of the unit price, whichever is less, and the length of the credit’s annual availability was extended to 2016.
“The tax credit may bring some creative financing,” notes Pete Devlin, the webinar moderator and lead for market transformation and manufacturing research and development with the US Department of Energy (DoE) hydrogen program.
Medwin notes the forklift industry is working on compatibility of fuel cell units with forklifts, in part through the ITA, also based in Washington.
Design is part of the challenge. Typically, a forklift truck is designed around the batteries with the center of gravity “based on a big lead acid battery,” Medwin observes. With fuel cells, “this new way to store energy takes an effort to define what we need from the fuel cell unit”.
The ITA’s ESS committee has drafted a recommended practice to facilitate communication between manufacturers of forklifts and ESS equipment.
Medwin says five critical requirements for fuel cells have been identified including size, weight, center of gravity, power delivered and power absorbed.
As for the practical characteristics, “hydrogen supply and infrastructure are the key to a successful installation”, according to Medwin.
Medwin gives an upbeat illustration. Foodservice industry provider Sysco Corp has operated Class 3 pallet trucks with fuel cell power at two Michigan distribution centres under a US Department of Defence-funded demonstration project. The goal is to show savings in total ownership and operational costs of hydrogen fuel cell power packs versus the existing battery packs.
Medwin says Sysco managers after six months were happy with the performance of the fuel cell units and are experiencing lower peak usage of electricity, wanting to get rid of battery and charging units at the two locations.
Forklifts from Raymond operated in the Grand Rapids, Michigan centre, and forklifts from Crown Equipment Corp of New Bremen, Ohio were used in Sysco’s Canton, Michigan distribution location.
Medwin provides more details about Raymond’s two-year in-plant research program, which received funding from the New York Energy Research & Development Authority (Forkliftaction.com News #343).
The indoor refueling system became operational in May 2007 and dispensed 363 kilograms of hydrogen in 561 refueling procedures from August 2007 to October 2008.
“We have five units running with acceptable performance,” Medwin reports. “Operators do the refueling, and the drivers like the consistent performance.”
One downside: fuel cells in active use emit sounds louder than those coming from batteries.
A Cellex-brand system from Plug Power Inc of Latham, New York operates on a Class 3 Raymond 8400 AC and has logged 269 stack hours.
The other systems are installed on Class 2 Raymond 7400 AC/AC forklifts with these operational results during the reporting period: a Plug Power GH1 unit for 1,272 stack hours, a Plug Power GH2 unit for 1,175 hours, a unit from Hydrogenics Corp of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada for 160 hours and a unit from a team of East Penn Manufacturing Company Inc of Lyon Station, Pennsylvania and Nuvera Fuel Cells Inc of Billerica, Massachusetts for 150 hours.
Medwin illustrated some of the complexity today. From the Deka website for Raymond forklifts, he showed one of 20 pages of different battery sizes and types. East Penn Manufacturing makes the Deka battery line and, on its website, has guides listing batteries for 21 brands of forklifts.
In April, Raymond signed a joint development agreement with Ballard Power Systems of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to develop a forklift prototype powered by the next generation of Ballard’s Mark9 SSL fuel cell product. “Ballard is a key to the success of this project” with a goal of achieving a low cost of ownership, Medwin notes.
NREL subcontractor John Christensen says four forklift two-year demonstration projects are in the pipeline for a range of renewable energies including hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Christensen retired in 2007 after 28 years with the defence logistics agency (DLA) of the US Department of Defence. Golden, Colorado-based NREL supports the US DoE hydrogen program.
In the first project, the defence depot in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania plans to add 20 new fuel cell-powered forklifts and retrofit 20 existing forklifts with fuel cells. Christensen says a 10 February event will kick off the Susquehanna project, which has a value of about USD5.3 million and includes establishment of an indoor dispensing system for delivering liquid hydrogen.
The Susquehanna project will compare the lines of two fuel cell producers. Plug Power will outfit the new forklifts, and the Deka Nuvera team will work on the retrofit forklifts.
The defence depot at Warner Robins, Georgia expects to get 20 forklifts with fuel cells, have hydrogen reformed on site from natural gas and test mobile refueling capabilities. Construction is slated to begin in January. The project has a value of about USD4.8 million.
While not occurring at a depot, a comparable project at the US Army’s Fort Lewis in Pierce County, Washington calls for 19 new forklifts, generation of hydrogen, heat and power from waste digester gas and a mobile refueler for dispersed activities. Construction is slated to begin in 2009 with operations starting in 2010.
The San Joaquin Valley defence depot in Tracy, California intends to replace 20 propane-powered forklifts and generate hydrogen onsite using solar energy for electrolysis. An office of the defense energy support center is negotiating the power purchase agreement for solar-based hydrogen production. Construction should begin in mid-2009.
“Data collection is critical” in evaluating the effectiveness of the program, Christensen notes.
In targeting populations for fuel cell power trials, Christensen reports the US Postal Service operates about 10,000 vehicles and DLA has more than 4,000. By the year 2012, “we want to ramp up from (purchase of) 200 units per year to about 2,000” including backup standby fuel cell systems, Christensen says. By that time, “the cost of units would come down and be of interest to the commercial side.”
DoE’s Devlin adds: “We will try to shoot for 400 lift trucks and 1,600 back-up units. On the forklift side, we are putting together a national action plan with an interagency task force. But we need appropriated dollars.”
An installation for the postal service in the San Francisco, California area is expected “to give them a hands-on view at a regional distribution centre” utilisation of the technology, Christensen says. The postal service operates about 300 distribution centers.
The industry pursues technology for an effective proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) fuel cell. Through the demonstration projects, “we are helping to buy down the R&D while gaining public acceptance of PEM technology”, according to Christensen.
Further detailed discussions about forklifts and fuel cells are scheduled at the Materials Handling Industry Association’s ProMat 2009 event on 12-15 January in Chicago, Illinois and NHA’s conference and hydrogen expo from 30 March-3 April in Columbia, South Carolina
|New chapter for Crown product-warning case |
Portland, OR, United States
|The Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland sent a contentious forklift product-warning case back to the first district US Court of Appeals in Boston, Massachusetts.|
Industry players have concerns that the litigation could expand—dramatically and without boundaries—the duty of an equipment manufacturer to warn end-users well beyond the initial buyer of a forklift.
On 11 December, the justices in Maine ruled that forklift manufacturer Crown Equipment Corp had a duty under Maine law to warn a forklift owner of a safety hazard that Crown discovered although Crown was not the seller of the forklift to its current owner. Crown attorney John Maxa plans to appeal the ruling although plaintiff lawyer Terrence Garmey says there are “no more legitimate arguments in this case” now.
Forklift operator Thomas Brown was asphyxiated on August 1, 2003 while moving chemicals in a storage area at Prime Tanning Co Inc in Berwick, Maine. His chest was compressed between a shelving unit and the dashboard of the 1989 Crown stand-up forklift, according to testimony during the August 2006 jury trial in the US District Court in Portland.
Prime Tanning was the third owner of the forklift.
Jurors found the Crown design safe but cited Crown’s post-sale failure to warn in making an award to the widow, Claire Brown. Including pre-judgment and post-judgment interest and legal costs, the award could exceed USD1.85 million, says Garmey, who is with the Portland office of the law firm Smith Elliott Smith & Garmey. Limits in Maine law required the judge to reduce the jury’s original award of USD4.2 million (Forkliftaction.com News #275).
Garmey believes the federal appeals court in Boston may enter an order in Brown’s favor in early 2009. “Crown has been seriously avoiding any attempts to resolve the matter from day one,” Garmey observes. “The federal court has ruled on every issue in our favour, except for damages.”
Crown appealed the original jury-trial decision to the Boston court. Maxa calls the trial Chapter 1 and the federal appeal Chapter 2.
In Chapter 3, the appeals court sent the case to the supreme court for Maine, asking the state justices “to answer a specific question of law”, notes Maxa, vice president and general counsel for New Bremen, Ohio-based Crown. After answering the question in Crown’s favour, the Maine justices “went beyond the scope of their assignment, discussed certain aspects of the case—getting some important facts incorrect—and imposed liability on Crown”.
Crown will allege assignments of error in Chapter 4 in Boston. “Once (the justices) answered the specific question, any further deliberation—examining facts and determining law—should be for the jury and not the court,” Maxa says. “We ask for a new trial.”
Crown added a safety guard to its forklifts in the 1990s and advised customers it was available as a retrofit kit for previously manufactured units.
Maxa notes that Crown sent out 18,000 warning letters about the availability of a kit to remedy the safety defect. “Since they (Prime Tanning) were the third owner, they had no warranty information,” he says.
Outside groups support Crown’s basic position about the product warning issue. The International Association of Defence Counsel of Chicago, Illinois and the US Chamber of Commerce of Washington, DC each filed an amicus curiae brief on a narrow issue in the case with potential national impact. Those filings contend the basic position in the Brown case, if upheld, would represent an extraordinary expansion of a manufacturer’s duty to warn.
|Grocer gets 219 Yale units with fuel cells|
Rosemont, IL, United States
|Yale Equipment & Services LLC has responsibility to deliver 219 fuel cell-powered forklifts for use in a new Joliet, Illinois distribution center of Central Grocers Inc.|
“We will deliver all of the equipment, and we will provide all services for the full term of the lease,” says Kal Anglewicz, president of the Yale dealership in Rosemont.
Anglewicz says the dealership is scheduled to deliver 44 Yale NR050EA reach trucks, 30 Yale ESC040FA counterbalance stand ups, five Yale EPR040TH sit-down, three-wheel counterbalance forklifts and 140 Yale MPC080 centre-control pallet trucks.
“Their current operation has 170 pieces of material handling equipment”, and Central Grocers will retire those electric units through the dealership, Anglewicz reports.
Plug Power Inc of Latham, New York said Central Grocers has purchased its GenDrive-brand hydrogen fuel cell power units—instead of traditional lead-acid batteries—for the new fleet of Yale forklifts. Air Products & Chemicals Inc of Allentown, Pennsylvania will supply a liquid hydrogen storage compression system and multiple indoor fueling dispensers.
Central Grocers is moving its corporate headquarters about 30 miles (48 km) to Joliet from Franklin Park, Illinois and constructing a 934,490-square-foot (84,104 sqm) building for initial use in April.
Central Grocers claims the building will have the largest freezer cooler space—340,000 square feet (30,600 sqm)—of any facility being constructed in the US during 2008. An ambient warehouse will occupy 550,000 square feet (49,500 sqm).
The member-owned cooperative supplies food and general merchandise under national brands and its Centrella label to more than 200 independent retail grocery stores in northeastern Illinois and parts of Indiana.
An Illinois department supports the Central Grocers’ project with USD3.8 million in state corporate tax credits and USD87,500 under an employer training and investment program grant.
The materials handling subsidiary of Nacco Industries Inc designs, engineers, manufactures and markets original equipment and aftermarket parts carrying the Yale brand.
|CeMAT India attracts large numbers |
|Over 9,500 visitors attended the second annual four-day CeMAT India, 250 more than last year. CeMAT India had 152 exhibitors - 61 from India and the remainder from other countries including Germany, Italy, Spain, Taiwan and the UK.|
Dr. Andreas Gruchow, member of the Deutsche Messe AG executive board, says international trade fairs do a remarkable job in bringing the latest trends and technology in automation, energy technology, power transmission and intra-logistics under one roof.
“The exhibition has clearly witnessed a flow of ideas between Indian companies and their foreign counterparts, which is a very encouraging sign for Indian industry,” he says. “In challenging times, shows like this prove to be an excellent platform in raising the overall sentiment of the industry as it gives an opportunity to share ideas and interface directly with a cross-section of industry.”
Gruchow says exhibitors and business visitors participated in the event enthusiastically despite the current economic slowdown. “This is an encouraging sign,” he says. “It validates that such a platform is required and that in the long run, it will prove to be fruitful to the industry.”
Dipak Ghosh, managing director of local distributor Maminsco, attended the event in partnership with German company Kaup. He believes many of the visitors who attended were mostly there for academic interest rather than for business. “The economic climate would probably be the reason.
“Many potential buyers for materials handling equipment have not finalised their business plans for the future because of the uncertainty.”
Ghosh says some participants questioned whether this type of event needed to be held in Bangalore on an annual basis. “It could be moved to different cities to attract new visitors,” he comments.
Samir Gandhi, director of Gandhi Automation Pvt Ltd, says CeMAT 2007 helped the company increase its business last year. “We doubled our stall size this year,” he says. “For CeMAT 2009, we are thinking of getting a bigger booth.
“This is a global exhibition with quality visitors from industry across the board,” he adds.
|New forklift brochure|
West Midlands, UK
Narrow Aisle has produced a new brochure on its Flexi collection to provide customers with information about the features of the machines.
The brochure provides an overview of the full Flexi series, which has battery and electric forklifts, LPG-powered ‘Arctic’ trucks and the Flexi Euro.
The brochure also has key comparisons and technical data to assist with designing pallet storage systems.
Auctioneer builds auction site in Japan
Ritchie Bros Auctioneers has broken ground for its new auction site near Tokyo and anticipates construction will be finalised by the end of 2009.
Rob Mackay, president of Ritchie Bros, says the company expects to conduct its first auction at the new site in early 2010. “With our new auction site, Japanese consignors can now sell their assets at our Japan auction site to buyers from around the world - both those attending in person and those bidding online.”
Mike Scott, a Japanese-speaking Ritchie Bros sales manager, has been managing the Japan office for almost 10 years and will be the area manager for the new site.
|Haulotte launches new website |
|Haulotte Group has upgraded its website to help make online information more accessible and to offer an “interactive customer service platform” for spare parts.|
The website, www.easy-spare-parts.com, is a secure website designed to manage after-sales service. Customers can access specific information about products and parts anywhere in the world 24 hours a day.
The first version of the site has menus and messages in 12 languages. Customers will be able to search for spare parts by serial number, machine type or part reference; download all technical documentation concerning equipment use and maintenance, and order all parts online.
Customers can access illustrated product data sheets for the Haulotte range through dedicated country sites.
Haulotte says priority was given to designing a practical website with simple web navigation so internet users can access information with fewer clicks.
The company plans to add an e-learning component and up-to-date information on parts availability, delivery time and order tracking.
“Ultimately, customers will have their own web space containing information from training courses, downloadable diplomas and an exhaustive ‘health record’ of each machine,” says a Haulotte spokesman.
|New framework to simplify freight services |
Prague, Czech Republic
|A breakthrough in analysing intermodal freight transport was announced at the second annual Freightwise conference in Prague.|
The international conference, held in early December, heard how the implementation of the Freightwise Framework (FWF) would simplify booking freight services.
Jan-Tore Pedersen, technical manager - Freightwise of BMT Group Ltd (BMT), an international consultancy firm, says the implementation of the FWF means that intermodal transport is progressing to revolutionary stage. “I am convinced this is the way forward for intermodal freight management.”
Eighty experts in transport IT and commercial and policy organisations who attended the conference indicated by survey they would be in favour of the European Commission (EC) taking a lead on making FWF a standard tool for managing intermodal transport.
The FWF shows the complex nature of booking freight services can be reduced to four roles and six messages. The four roles in intermodal transport were identified as transport service provider, the transport user, the transportation network manager and the transport regulator.
Either four people, companies or authorities or two or more roles by the same person in the same company or authority can adopt the roles.
The Freightwise Framework utilises six messages that are necessary to publish, advertise, plan, book, execute and invoice an intermodal transport service.
Freightwise is an EC-funded project that finances the research work of 54 European partners from manufacturing, transport, academia, software developers and consultancies to create an intelligent freight transport system. The project started November 2006 and will end in March 2010.
Freightwise develops a framework for freight transport that enables increased use of door-to-door transport services using one or more modes. The FWF will be used as a basis for developing a ‘soft’ infrastructure to enable planning, execution and completion of transport using the same principles that are frequently used for passenger air transport on the internet.
|Grant boosts logistics future in NZ |
Tauranga, New Zealand
|The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic has just received NZD200,000 to assist with research into the feasibility of establishing a National Centre of Expertise for the Road Transport and Logistics industries based in the Bay of Plenty. |
The feasibility study will be undertaken jointly with the Transportation Industry Training Organisation and Tranzqual.
Funding for the study was received from the Encouraging and Supporting Innovation Fund administered by the Tertiary Education Commission which acknowledges that “there is a recognised need for the establishment of a Centre of Expertise as the industry appears to lack the availability of central training”.
Around 80% of all New Zealand’s freight moves through the ‘golden transport triangle’ of Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga. In addition, the Port of Tauranga’s position as the country’s largest primary products port will be strengthened by becoming the most significant transport and logistics centre in New Zealand.
A Centre of Expertise will support the port operations and all associated road transport by providing a centralised base for best practice, training and research that will feed directly into the industry.
According to Kevin Brockett, Group Leader in Road Transport at the Polytechnic “Training delivery for the logistics sector at the applied level is currently under-represented in industry training statistics.”
The industry has traditionally employed low skilled workers; however, modern technology is changing the industry and has highlighted the importance of good training and research.
The feasibility study is due to be completed by December 2009 when outcomes will be presented to industry and the Tertiary Education Commission.
|Spotlight on jobs in logistics industry |
|According to Hays recruitment consultancy, opportunities exist in mid-tier logistics companies, which are continuing to find strength in numbers with a noticeable increase in mergers and acquisitions. In Victoria, growth in the containerised freight sector has continued in line with associated infrastructure developments in this area.|
Contract logistics and transport recruitment is expected to pick up this quarter. Meanwhile, new opportunities are being created in the senior operational and executive space as more leading logistics groups outsource to third-party providers.
Salaries have been stable over the past quarter, with no noticeable fluctuations. At the entry level, however, a change in employer attitudes has resulted in an increase in flexible salary package offerings to attract the best candidates, promising more adequate compensation in exchange for the best skills.
A persistent shortage of quality mid-level operational candidates in warehousing and transport is attributable to the majority of candidates being in work coupled with an inadequate number of new entrants to the market. Employers are beginning to realise that competitive salaries and better graduate recruitment programs are vital to successful staff attraction.
The market has seen an influx of high quality candidates with no local experience but who come equipped with strong skill sets, degree qualifications, and comparable experience in large overseas organisations. While similarly skilled migrant workers have been embraced in the engineering, manufacturing and operations sectors, the logistics sector has been slow to recognise and tap into this talent pool.
|Port Kembla named Port of the Year |
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
|Port Kembla Port Corporation was awarded the prestigious Port of the Year Award for 2008 recently.|
The Lloyds List DCN Australian Shipping and Transport Awards recognised Port Kembla Port Corporation for work on the major infrastructure project to transform Port Kembla Port into Australia’s leading car import facility.
“More than $170 million has been spent on the port upgrade which includes two new berths, bridges, road and rail realignment and cargo-handling facilities,” said Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi.
This is the second time that Port Kembla, in Wollongong, has received this award, having previously won the award in 2000.
|New road and rail hub in NT |
Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia
|Freight company Northline has established its own rail and road hub at the Katherine Rail Terminal on the Victoria Highway. The facility, opened last month, creates a local hub for road, rail and intermodal operations, and provides services such as general freight, express freight, produce, cars, u-pack-it and storage.|
It is the latest step in the company’s vision of creating a strategic national network of freight distribution centres.
Northline chief operating officer Phillip Taylor says the company’s presence in Katherine provided local customers with the confidence of safe, cost-effective, reliable and efficient transport services. “Our fully integrated national freight network gives customers the certainty that their product will get to the markets fast and fresh.”
|Major freight issues for SA|
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
|Major freight transport infrastructure issues affecting regional South Australia have been listed for the first time in a comprehensive single report, compiled by the South Australian Freight Council (SAFC).|
Key issues identified include:
• Construction of highway bypasses at Port Wakefield, Port Augusta, Renmark, Mt Gambier and other locations to improve safety in those areas;
• Significant upgrade – including grade separation – at the intersection of Main North, Grand Junction and Port Wakefield roads at Gepps Cross, as it is a vital carriageway for regional road freight;
• Establishing an intermodal (road-rail) terminal at Tailem Bend, which already has significant grain facilities, to cater for Riverland produce, as well as increasing output from the Mt Barker and Adelaide Hills areas;
• The potential to re-open the South East rail network to accommodate the expanding woodchip and pulp demands, as well as other freight tasks in the region;
• The need for a new port at Kangaroo Island (Ballast Head area) to accommodate woodchip exports; and
• Potential development of an airport in the state’s mid-north to handle regional produce.
“This collation of genuine industry issues affecting different regions of the state is one of the most comprehensive reports of its type ever produced in South Australia,” says SAFC general manager, Neil Murphy.
“Regional South Australia contributes significantly to the state’s economy, and in terms of freight requirements and usage, is reliant on consistent and high quality freight logistics systems to ensure competitiveness on the world stage.”
The SA Freight Council is the state’s peak, multi-modal industry group that advises both the federal and state governments on industry related issues, and is funded by both governments. It represents road, rail, sea and air freight modes and operations, and assists the industry on issues relating to freight logistics across all modes.
|Logistics leader honoured |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Toll Holdings managing director Paul Little has received an honorary doctorate from RMIT University for his outstanding contribution to the community.|
RMIT vice-chancellor and president, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said Little set an example to the community by combining innovation and business success with a strong sense of corporate responsibility.
“In the past two decades, Mr Little has built Toll Holdings into a billion-dollar listed company employing 25,000 staff, but his dedication to putting corporate social responsibility into practice is as significant as his business achievements.”
Toll Holdings has worked for years with Foodbank Australia, collecting and distributing donated products to 1,500 state-based welfare agencies and helping feed more than 20,000 disadvantaged Australians daily.
Other programs supported by Little, who studied Logistics at RMIT, include the First Step Program, a St Kilda-based drug rehabilitation clinic, and the Second Step Program, set up by the company in 2001 to offer employment opportunities for former drug addicts and people with prison or criminal records.
Pro vice-chancellor (Business) Professor Gill Palmer said Toll had set new standards in the field of transport and logistics under Little’s leadership, becoming Asia’s pre-eminent provider of integrated logistical services.
“Paul Little was a practitioner in corporate social responsibility long before the term became fashionable.” Palmer said. “He did so with little fanfare, but we believe this merits recognition equal with his achievements as a business leader and entrepreneur.”
|Junior stevedores in the making |
Auckland, New Zealand
|Ports of Auckland played host to young ‘stevedores in training’ recently when five children and their families, representing the Cure Kids organisation, visited the seaport. The visitors were able to get up-close and personal with giant straddle carriers and were treated to a rip-roaring tugboat ride.|
Last year, Ports of Auckland’s Charity Golf Day raised more than NZD50,000 for Cure Kids. Planning for the next Golf Day to benefit Cure Kids, on 12 March 2009, is already under way.
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|B-P, The Original Loader |
|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.|
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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