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|It’s not a great day for businesses anywhere, with the International Monetary Fund predicting that the world economy will grow at its slowest rate this year since World War Two. In a gloomy forecast, the IMF is tipping growth of just 0.5%. The fund is calling on governments to step up efforts to stimulate their economies, and it looks like world leaders are listening – so there is still hope. All eyes are now on new US president Barack Obama.|
Some readers may have missed out on some of Roger Renstrom’s extensive report on ProMat last week. In the interests of brevity, only the first part of his report was included in the newsletter, with the full version only visible in the online edition. Unfortunately, many readers may have missed the link to the full article. If you want to read the full report, click here.
|Court affirms verdict for forklift operator|
San Francisco, CA, United States
|Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing Inc (TIEM) has lost an appeal in a 2003 forklift injury case involving a perceived design flaw. A USD1.8 million jury award was affirmed.|
A California state court of appeal in San Francisco rejected TIEM arguments that plaintiff Eugenio Paul Feliciano, the injured forklift driver, should have proven the availability of a safer design for TIEM’s system-of-active-stability suspension mechanism. The device applies more lateral force on forklift tyres than a conventional design, according to court testimony.
In January 2005, a tyre on a Toyota Series-7 forklift split, the machine toppled over and Feliciano’s leg was crushed.
TIEM manufactures Toyota forklifts in Columbus, Indiana.
In March 2005, the jury returned a split verdict, nine-three, in concluding the trial before Judge Carol Mittlesteadt in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City, California. The award was intended to reimburse Feliciano for lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering.
During 2007, the appellate panel heard arguments on 12 June, affirmed the judgment on 13 July and closed the case on 13 September, according to the Judicial Council of California.
At the appeal court level, San Jose, California, attorneys Byron Foster and Mark Freschi represented Feliciano. Dean Bochner of Encino, California and Kurt Geske of San Jose represented TIEM, filing the appeal in May 2005. Ronald Bushner of San Francisco represented another defendant, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.
Attorneys for TIEM declined an opportunity this week to comment on the case.
|More NACCO jobs to go |
Craigavon and Nijmegen
|Forklift manufacturer NACCO Materials Handling Group (NMHG) will cut up to 135 jobs at two locations because of the global economic crisis. |
Up to 96 jobs will go at the plant in Craigavon and up to 38 jobs at its Nijmegen plant.
The company says the decision comes after a review of operations. In September, the company made 81 people redundant. The Craigavon site employs 616 people and NMHG employs over 10,000 people worldwide.
Alan Little, plant manager at Craigavon, says the unfortunate economic situation has “unfavourably affected” the company and others trading in Europe.
“These are difficult times and these are regrettable proposals forced on the company by global difficulties not of our making.
"The company will endeavour to make every reasonable effort to sustain our business position as we progress through the current recession," he says.
"This will include considering a temporary measure of introducing a reduced working week."
NMHG manufactures and distributes Hyster, Yale and Sumitomo-Yale brands.
|Big order for Cuba |
|Hytsu Group has begun the new year positively, after filling a significant order for a Cuban textile company.|
The Chinese-based materials handling company delivered 34 electric forklifts to Teco Textile Company on January 19. The textile manufacturer will use the forklifts in its warehouse.
A Hytsu spokesperson says that in these times of economic crisis, this order reflects the excellent relationship the company has with Cuba.
Hytsu has plans to launch a range of new products this year and expand its market.
“In 2009, Hytsu will launch new 1.5- to 1.8-tonne S100 series IC forklifts, a new 4- to 5-tonne S100 series IC forklift and a new 2- to 3-tonne cushion tyre truck for the American market,” the spokesperson says. “Hytsu will seek opportunities in the Middle East, Russia and Brazil.”
|New safety law in place |
London, United Kingdom
|Negligent employers face heavier penalties under new health and safety legislation that comes into force this month in the UK.|
The Health and Safety Offences Act (2008) increases fines for breaking safety laws from GBP5,000 (USD7,113) to GBP20,000 (USD28,400) and employers could find themselves imprisoned under the new legislation which received Royal Assent last October.
Judith Hackitt, chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), says the law should act as a real deterrent to those businesses and individuals that do not take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.
"Everyone has the right to work in an environment where risks to their health and safety are properly managed, and employers have a duty in law to deliver this.”
Hackitt says that employers who conduct regular employee training and ensure employee safety have nothing to fear from the law.
"There are no new duties on employers or businesses and HSE is not changing its approach to how it enforces health and safety law," she notes.
"We will retain the important safeguards that ensure our inspectors use their powers sensibly and proportionately. We will continue to target those who knowingly cut corners, put lives at risk and who gain commercial advantage over competitors by failing to comply with the law."
UK risk and safety consultancy Norwich Union Risk says professionally delivered training is even more important now that the act has been implemented.
The company comments that training for routine tasks, including working at height, is often not given the priority that is required, which could prove damaging now the courts have the power to impose unlimited fines.
Steve Morgan, training provider for UK-based Associated Trainers, says even though a new law is in place, the Health and Safety Executive does not have enough people or resources to educate employers when it comes into force.
“Most employers try to comply as best they can but are still ignorant of all the laws and guidelines that they must comply with.”
Morgan says most employers do not see or hear from their local environmental health people or HSE inspectors. “Too little is done to educate employers in simple ways in how they can comply with health and safety laws.
“Unless an employer is large enough to have a health and safety consultant or employ their own health and safety experts, there will always be cases of people having accidents,” he explains. “These accidents could have been avoided if employers fully understood and were aware of best practices and how they could fully comply so far as reasonably practicable with all health and safety laws.”
Morgan believes it will be up to training providers to educate companies about the changes to the law because the HSE does not have the resources to do so.
“I think in light of the current economic state in the UK, employers and employees will continue to breach the laws through ignorance,” he says.
While some companies may struggle with to comply with safety legislation, Linde Material Handling views health and safety as an ongoing concern and has introduced processes to ensure that risks are continually assessed and minimised.
Paul Green, safety and environmental advisor at Linde Material Handling, says the new Health and Safety Offences Act (2008) has been designed to give the courts more power to prosecute companies that do not adhere to health and safety laws.
“While the modern materials handling industry is inherently safe and fully compliant with a raft of legislation covering every operational aspect, it is a medium-risk work place.," he explains.
"As a result health and safety legislation is well established within the industry and this new act is merely the latest amendment.”
New Linde employees go through a full induction and basic training on the first day. They learn emergency protocols such as first aid procedures and how to evacuate in the event of a fire. Those working in the warehouse sector will also be trained on how to wear, clean and repair protective clothing and how to safely use and maintain their equipment.
Green say health and safety was always a priority at Linde long before the new Offences Act was passed "and it continues to be so."
To ensure safety of workers Linde has implemented a intranet-based risk assessment system that is currently used at the Basingstoke plant.
This year, the company will introduce a PC-based driver training program that will become mandatory for all company car users.
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|Miami business marks 50 years |
Miami, FL, United States
|At a time when many companies are struggling financially and closing their doors, a privately owned US-based materials handling supplier will celebrate 50 years in business.|
W.E. Johnson began as a Clark forklifts distributor in 1958. Since then, the company has grown to include multiple material handling, construction and marine equipment lines and four full-service locations in South Florida, including Miami (Doral), West Palm Beach, Fort Myers and Naples.
Gary Work, president of W.E. Johnson, says the company’s golden anniversary is a reminder of the many friends the company has and of the great people it has worked with.
“As we reach this significant anniversary milestone and look back over the past 50 years, it is easy to see that W.E. Johnson would not have made it this far without the support and loyalty of customers who have stood behind the company year after year,” Work says. “As we look forward to the next 50 years, we are already finding new ways to improve operations and be the dealership customers turn to.”
The company expanded in 1975 when it opened the office in Fort Myers. The current management team purchased the company in 1986.
In 1987, W.E. Johnson added the Bobcat Equipment brand to its stable of products, the Marine Travelift was added in 1992, followed in 1995 by the Komatsu brand. In 2007, the company moved into new facilities in Naples and Miami.
|MIT tests concept of a robotic forklift |
Cambridge, MA, United States
|A semi-autonomous forklift may handle movement of supplies in a hostile military war zone if a research project achieves its goals.|
In the current effort, researchers are using an internal-combustion pneumatic-tyre Toyota 8-Series forklift in outdoor tests on the Cambridge campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The forklift has a 4,000-pound (1,800kg) lifting capacity.
Operated remotely, the conceptual robotic forklift is intended to transport pallet-loaded supplies outdoors on uneven terrain to depot storage locations or onto a truck for deployment. Now, in Iraq, for instance, operators at military outposts frequently abandon a forklift when nearby combat conditions elevate.
The research team hopes to have a functional prototype ready in a few months.
MIT says the research began with a small test platform that was rigged with forklift tines, sensors and computers for indoor tests.
The work is part of several projects at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) focused on “the development of situational awareness for machines”, explains Seth Teller, professor of computer science and engineering and project leader. Teller co-heads CSAIL’s robotics, vision and sensor networks group.
Teller’s team is in the initial stages of funding and, currently, is negotiating follow-on funding for the project with the logistics innovation agency of the US Army.
For now, guidance from a human supervisor determines which pallets to lift and where to move them.
A supervisor's tablet computer, which is wirelessly linked to the forklift, displays the view from the forklift's forward-looking video camera. Directions come from stylus gestures on the image and spoken commands. The machine can revert to a conventional manned forklift as needed.
Teller says that situational awareness involves the use of sensing, motion, inference and memory to acquire “a model of the spatial layout of the world and its contents, to allow us to plan and move purposefully in the world”. Humans develop these internal maps of their surroundings without even thinking about it, Teller notes, but “machines can't yet do it automatically”.
The forklift project has involved about 30 MIT-connected faculty, staff and students along with support from the MIT-managed Lincoln Laboratory, the independent non-profit Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc and BAE Systems plc.
In an earlier project, MIT created the forklift-concept computer code for an autonomous vehicle in the grand challenge auto race organised by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defence.
|Three companies win awards |
|Two materials handling companies have been honoured in the 2009 iF design awards.|
Two Toyota Material Handling Europe products won the prestigious iF Product Design Award for outstanding product design.
The Toyota Traigo 48 electric counterbalance forklift and BT Levio pedestrian powered pallet truck have been selected as winners in the special vehicles/construction/agriculture category.
Also winning in this category is the Crown GPC 3000 from Crown Equipment. The GPC 3000 is a low-level order picker that was launched in 2007.
The award gives the winners the iF seal of design excellence, which remains valid throughout the product lifecycle.
Products are judged on design quality, workmanship, choice of materials, degree of innovation, environmental friendliness, functionality, ergonomics, visualisation of use, safety, brand value, branding and universal design.
Presented by iF Industrie Forum Design e.V., the iF Product Design Award is one of the world’s best-known design competitions. Based in Hannover, Germany and launched in 1953, iF is an independent association that enhances public awareness of the importance of design and functions as a mediator between design and industry.
Meanwhile in France, European tyre manufacturer Solideal has won an innovation award for one of its products.
The company’s LifeMaster Over-the-Tyre (OTT) Rubber Track won an Intermat Innovations Award 2009. Intermat chose Solideal’s product because it “is the only adjustable and easy-to-fit rubber over-the-tyre track product that offers a smooth ride and greater traction, which “provides a guarantee of optimal productivity and versatility”.
Intermat is one of the biggest trade shows in France.
|Crown embraces continuous improvement |
New Bremen, OH, United States
|An investment in Six Sigma quality-management methodology has yielded savings of about USD1.5 million to electric forklift manufacturer Crown Equipment Corp.|
Crown introduced the concept in late 2005 and, after a selection process, began developing candidates for Green Belt workers who might advance to Black Belt status. Trainers from the American Society for Quality in Milwaukee, Wisconsin delivered most of the lessons and explained how to follow specific steps with the goals to reduce costs and increase profit.
Improvements in handling manufacturing-related scrap, waste materials and component rework generated most of the savings.
In early phases, the Six Sigma projects identified and corrected complex problems and issues that were causing Crown to have inefficient operations. The company is expanding its base of Green Belt trainees to pursue a range of less obvious problems with an eye on achieving continuous-improvement gains.
Also, Crown is zeroing in on initiatives involving such Black Belt-level areas such as statistical analysis and broad business challenges.
New Bremen-based Crown has 11 manufacturing facilities in seven US locations.
Mark DeGrandchamp serves as Crown director of quality and Lean/Six Sigma.
|New online order platform launched |
Doral, FL, United States
|Diesel engine parts manufacturer Maxiforce’s new online ordering platform has been redesigned, making it easier for customers to use.|
The new E-Order platform, which can be found at Maxiforce.com, is designed for simpler, user-friendly navigation and allows customers to place orders quickly and easily.
The new platform features the ability to choose from which location orders are shipped and to check prices and availability at shipping locations. The company ships from Doral, Florida and Santa Fe Springs, California.
Customers will be able to track their UPS and FedEx ground and express shipments online, open invoices and view account balances.
Existing customers can continue to use their usernames and passwords.
Paul F Kelly, sales and marketing director for Maxiforce, says the new E-Order platform offers a new level of convenience to customers. “(Customers) can now find answers to questions by simply logging into their account on the website,” he says. “This is part of our continued commitment to meet the demands of our valued customers and ensuring we remain a trusted partner.”
Maxiforce specialises in engine parts for John Deere, Cummins, B & C and Perkins.
|Will incentive boost forklift sales? |
Canberra, ACT, Australia
|The federal government’s announcement last month of a 10% temporary investment allowance – in the form of an additional tax deduction – to encourage capital investment by Australian businesses has not yet had an impact on forklift sales.|
It may still be a case of ‘early days’ to judge the effectiveness of this measure, the intention of which is to provide an important short-term stimulus to the Australian economy in the face of the global financial crisis.
Forklift dealers are hopeful it will have a positive effect over time, while some believe there’s not enough awareness of the allowance.
“We have not yet had any positive response to this measure as it is very early days and we don’t believe most companies have digested the benefits to them,” says Damien Garvey, national sales manager of NTP Forklifts Australia.
He tells Forkliftaction.com News that the company is looking at the best ways to market the incentive to customers, “as it really only benefits the retail sector which, of course, leaves out the many large accounts which mainly rent their equipment”.
Calmat director Wayne Franklin reckons it’s the best-kept secret in Australia. “From conversations I have had, I don’t think too many people are aware of it!”
Linde’s general manager - sales & marketing, Rod Chapman, tells Forkliftaction.com News that due to Christmas and New Year and January historically being a slow period, no increases in sales of equipment have been seen as yet.
“I remember when it was last available, customers seemed to wait until the last minute and there was a mad rush in June to take advantage of the saving. Hopefully, we will not see that repeated.”
Stefan Marschner of the EMC Group believes the measure has not succeeded, but says it is too early to tell. “Perhaps by February, we will have a better understanding.”
The allowance will be in the form of an additional tax deduction equal to 10% of the cost of an eligible asset. The allowance will be applicable to most new tangible depreciating assets - which includes most items of plant and equipment - over AUD10, 000 which are acquired or ordered by the end of the current financial year.
This means a business can receive an additional 10% tax deduction - available immediately - for investments brought forward and in place by 30 June 2010. In practical terms, this is an added incentive for businesses to proceed with their investment plans in this difficult environment.
The measure is estimated to cost AUD1.6 billion over the forward estimates period.
The investment allowance will be available for businesses which start to hold or start to construct the asset after 13 December 2008 and before the end of June 2009. Assets must be ready for use by the end of June 2010.
|Transport challenges ahead |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|More than 40 transport specialists from 17 countries attended a seminar in Sydney this week ahead of the 2009 transport summit taking place in Leipzig, Germany in May.|
“The international transport sector needs global answers to meet the present economic and financial crisis”, says Jack Short, secretary general of the International Transport Forum.
Australia is co-chairing the task force preparing the annual conference of the International Transport Forum, the theme of which is “Transport for a Global Economy – New Challenges and Opportunities”.
“The second International Transport Forum is being held at a time when transport is taking the brunt of the financial crisis, with dramatic declines in sales and investment. On the other hand, the large stimulus packages currently being deployed by many countries include considerable transport investment. This is one example of how transport is playing a role in the recovery process.
“We also need to look beyond the crisis; here the long-term transport agenda remains unchanged. The world still needs a more efficient, safer, better funded, more inter-operable and more sustainable transport system underpinning growth and development,” says Short.
Together with senior representatives from government, industry and the scientific community, the 2009 Forum will seek to address some of the key problematic areas connected with the role of transport in facilitating global trade and mobility:
• What does the present economic crisis mean for globalisation?
• Transport and globalisation – Who stands to lose and win?
• Volatile transport costs – What impact for the global supply chain?
• How will the global credit crunch affect transport investment programmes?
|Port jobs initiative launched |
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
|A port careers website, portcareers.com.au, was launched this month by businesses at Port of Brisbane, to help the industry meet future recruitment challenges.|
The website aims to promote the diversity and sustainability of jobs available at the port.
Port of Brisbane Corporation chief executive officer Jeff Coleman says the career portal will assist the port community to meet its current recruitment needs, as well as provide a toolkit for secondary- and tertiary-level students to research job pathways and careers in the port, shipping, and port-related transport industries.
“The corporation, customers and industry have joined together to create a one-stop-shop for potential job-seekers,” says Coleman.
“Annually, businesses at the Port of Brisbane contribute about AUD1.9 billion to Queensland’s economy and employ, in the immediate port precinct, over 2,500 people in a range of careers, from crane drivers and forklift operators, to engineers and surveyors.
“We are committed to ensuring the Port of Brisbane has the resources required to sustain the needs of our growing and dynamic industry.”
The website contains a business directory, as well as a job alert function that allows employers to contact job seekers who register their interest when vacancies arise. Employers post available positions on the site, making it easy for candidates to search and apply directly for jobs.
|Stevedore warned to pick up pace |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Stevedore Patrick has been told to improve truck turnaround times or face government regulation, following lengthy delays at Port Botany.|
Truck drivers were forced to wait up to five hours to pick up containers from Patricks, resulting in long queues along local public roads.
NSW ports minister Joe Tripodi says the truck queues at Port Botany underline the need for the reforms announced last year which are now in the process of being implemented.
Amendments to NSW Ports legislation were introduced in November last year following a comprehensive review of Port Botany by the state regulator IPART.
The reforms which will improve port efficiency and performance include:
• Off-Peak Incentive pricing system for truck allocation at ports;
• Performance standards for rail and truck turn-around;
• Real time information systems; and
• A rail logistics team to improve rail efficiency.
Tripodi warns that if stevedores are unable to achieve an acceptable performance in the short term, the government will move immediately to implement the second phase of the reform agenda, which includes regulation.
“Those regulations will include penalties for stevedores who fail to service trucks and trains within a set time.”
|New freight route between US and NZ |
Auckland, New Zealand
|Qantas Freight will introduce a direct weekly Boeing 747-400 freighter service between the United States and New Zealand from February 2009.|
The new freighter service will provide main-deck capacity between the US east coast and New Zealand as well as from New Zealand into Australia, with connections to Asian ports including Bangkok, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The service will initially operate every Friday from New York and Chicago through to Auckland and Melbourne and then extend direct from Melbourne into Asia.
"The new schedule will allow us to utilise our aircraft for additional charter work and to give us the option, subject to demand, of adding an additional weekly service on this new route at a later date," says group general manager Qantas Freight, Stephen Cleary.
He adds that the introduction of new routes to the company’s network diversifies the business’s exposure to the current global economic environment and its impact on air freight volumes.
"Last year, we extended the wet-lease on three freighter aircraft until 2014. Along with our recent investments in specialist supply chain businesses such as Jets Transport Express and DPEX, this gives us the flexibility to move resources to where they are needed."
|Safety products manual launched|
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|The 2009 Safety Products Reference Manual, which covers the latest range of personal protective equipment available from BOC, has just been published.|
Besides information on products from BOC’s top 59 safety brands, the manual offers a wide range of personal protective equipment plus information on risk assessment and manual handling.
It also includes a chapter called “Gas Cylinder Safety”, which covers issues such as gas cylinders and valves, safe transporting, handling and storage.
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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