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|There are more reports this week of poor financial results and it is clear that the red ink will be flowing for a while. Unfortunately, there’s always a reporting lag, so it takes a few months for the bad news to hit the market. It’s like the tail of a meteor which hangs over the industry for months after the main event. Worse still, the bad news has an effect on business confidence, so it’s really hard to shake off the impact. That’s why we like to highlight some of the positives in our bid to counter the gloom, and there are a couple of glimmers in this newsletter. If you’ve got any good news, please share it with us.|
|Economy rocks NMHG sales, shipments |
Mayfield Heights, OH, United States
|Nacco Industries Inc’s materials handling group (NMHG) is feeling the wrath of the economic cycle.|
The company anticipates significant declines in global forklift markets with little expectation for recovery until 2010. NMHG manufactures and markets forklifts under the Yale and Hyster brands.
The company says NMHG is operating with capital expenditure constraints, planned plant downtime, reductions in workforce, restrictions on spending and travel, suspension of the incentive compensation programs and profit-sharing wage freezes, and salary and benefit reductions.
For the 2008 fourth quarter ended December 31, the wholesale side of NMHG reports profit of USD1.6 million – down from USD23.8 million for the comparable 2007 quarter.
Quarterly sales decreased to USD647 million from USD760 million, and shipments dropped to 20,830 units from 25,046.
The year-end backlog was 14,900 units in comparison to 30,500 units at the end of 2007.
The company recorded a USD6 million pre-tax charge for reductions in force at all NMHG locations because of the downturn in forklift markets.
The key drivers for the change in results at NMHG wholesale were a decrease in market volume for units and parts, unfavourable foreign currency movements and the reduction-in-force costs, says Alfred M Rankin Jr, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Mayfield Heights-based holding company Nacco Industries.
The retail portion of NMHG reported an adjusted quarterly loss of USD1.6 million in 2008 versus USD1.1 million in 2007. Reduced spending and lower interest expense were noted for the retail side.
In addition to NMHG operations, publicly traded Nacco Industries has housewares and mining businesses.
|Manitou expects sales to decline in 2009 |
|Manitou is putting into place measures to boost cashflow, lower costs and downsize production in order to offset the effects of the weakening global economy.|
The company says it expects sales could decline by as much as 40% compared with 2008, which would result in a loss being incurred for 2009 as a whole.
Manitou has already drawn down a significant proportion of its credit lines to boost available cash and to avoid being exposed to a liquidity risk over the medium term.
US subsidiary Gehl Company has been unable to comply with certain bank covenants and has opened negotiations with local bankers regarding syndicated credit lines to avoid the banks pressing for early repayment.
Manitou says it has opened negotiations with its own banking pool to adapt the terms and conditions of the syndicated loan from last year. This loan was taken out to purchase Gehl.
The company has stated it is committed to providing support to Gehl to overcome the current crisis - but only if conditions in terms of risk mitigation and visibility are satisfactory.
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|Jungheinrich posts record sales for 2008 |
|Jungheinrich has reported its preliminary financials including record sales and strong earnings for 2008 despite the economic slowdown in the fourth quarter. |
The company reports that orders for all divisions increased by 1% from EUR2.12billion (USD2.86billion) to EUR2.14billion (USD2.89billion). Group net sales for 2008 were up 7% from EUR2.001billion (USD2.7billion) to EUR 2.145billion (USD2.9billion). However, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) decreased by 13% to EUR121.8m (USD164.7m) from EUR139.5m (USD188.7m).
Hans-Georg Frey, chairman of Jungheinrich, says the company maintained its course for growth in 2008, despite the weakening of the market.
“Our sector’s outlook has clouded even further in 2009. The materials handling equipment market has weakened substantially,” he says. “We adapted to this difficult situation early on by implementing appropriate projects and measures.
“Jungheinrich is well equipped and will emerge from the global economic crisis a stronger company.”
The company is not prepared to make a specific forecast about its future business performance, but Frey says the first few months of the year will give a clear picture of the direction Jungheinrich will go in 2009.
“We are certain that we will not be able to decouple ourselves from the general economic trend,” comments Frey.
|Cal-Lift moves operations to new building |
City of Industry, CA, United States
|Cal-Lift Inc has moved to a highly visible facility in City of Industry.|
The distributor of Clark, Mitsubishi, Taylor, Linde and Ottawa product lines consolidated operations at the new site from previous Southern California locations about 12 miles (19 km) away in Commerce and 36 miles (58 km) away in Fontana.
Cal-Lift decided during the summer of 2008 to make a move and signed a lease in October for development of a “brand new” 30,000 square foot (2,700 sqm) building on 2.5 acres, says Mark Maechling, Cal-Lift owner, president and chief executive officer.
More than 150,000 cars per day pass the site fronting on California Highway 60 near the interchange with Interstate Highway 605.
The building has “sufficient office, power and yard space to accommodate our existing business and give us room for future growth”, Maechling says. “Construction on the offices and parts and service facilities began in December and was completed in February. We moved in March 1.”
In September, Clark Material Handling Co (CMHC) named Cal-Lift as an authorised dealer of Clark forklifts for Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties in Southern California. That appointment overlapped the authorised territory of another dealer, Clarklift of California, but the February shutdown of Clarklift of California and the Yale/Chase Materials Handling Inc hiring of some Clarklift talent changed the situation.
“Our Clark territory remains the same today other than we are now the only authorised Clark dealer” in the five-county region, Maechling says.
CMHC applauds Cal-Lift’s move. “They consolidated two locations into one and have significantly improved operational efficiencies and response time to customers,” says Scott Johnson, director of dealer services with CMHC in Lexington, Kentucky. Cal-Lift is “well positioned to compete in the Los Angeles and Inland Empire markets”.
Johnson adds: “Mark Maechling and his team of professionals including Bob Bey, Mike Marrs, Eric Kroeger, Dan Wheeler and Bill Walker are well known and well respected in the Southern California markets.”
Cal-Lift has represented the Mitsubishi brand in Southern California for more than 20 years. “We remain a committed Mitsubishi dealer (for) Los Angeles and Orange counties,” Maechling notes. “MCFA (Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc) has operated a factory store (SCMH in Pico Rivera, California) in Los Angeles and Orange counties since 2001 and competes with Cal-Lift” in the forklift market. Joint venture MCFA is based in Houston, Texas.
“Our success depends upon our being a customer-focused team,” Maechling says. “We empower our people to make good decisions, we partner with our manufacturers to deliver the highest value equipment solutions (and) we seek to forge strong long-term reciprocal relationships with our customers.”
Cal-Lift was formed in 1964, employs 75 people and recorded sales of USD32 million for the fiscal year ended 30 September, up 10% from the previous fiscal year.
|Jungheinrich dealers win awards |
Richmond, VA, United States
|Jungheinrich has recognised a Canadian company for its sales efforts throughout 2008 by awarding it the Golden Gabelstapler (German for forklift).|
This is the second time Montréal Hydraulique 04 has received this recognition. It first won the award in 2007.
Jungheinrich also presented its Elite Sales Awards to five of its top-selling dealers for 2008. The yearly awards are based primarily on sales volume.
Mid-Ohio Material Handling was named the second top dealer and winner of the Silver Award. Ontario-based Hewitt Material Handling was presented with the Bronze Award as the third-best performer.
Virginia-based CFE Equipment Corp was recognised as Jungheinrich’s fourth top dealer and Norlift of Oregon, Inc. of Portland, Oregon was recognised as the fifth top dealer.
Awards were also presented to the top three sales managers for 2008. Eric Leclerc, sales manager at Montréal Hydraulique 04, Frank Mezgec, vice president of Mid-Ohio Material Handling, and Frank Stevens, sales manager at Norlift of Oregon, were all recognised for their efforts.
The award winners won a week’s holiday in Barcelona, Spain accompanied by Jungheinrich’s executive management.
The 10 top salespeople were also recognised.
|Super cranes to double US port’s capacity |
Savannah, GA, United States
|Konecranes has supplied four super post Panamax cranes to Garden City Terminal at the Port of Savannah on the US east coast.|
After taking delivery of the cranes, the terminal now has the largest fleet of ship-to-shore (STS) cranes at any one terminal in the country. According to Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) which operates the Port of Savannah, the cranes are “the largest of their kind anywhere in the world”.
Doug Marchand, executive director for the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), says the cranes are 20% larger and have hoist speeds almost 50% faster than existing cranes in service at the Port of Savannah. “They will not only help us move more cargo faster than ever before, but they will allow GPA to continue growing faster than any container port in the US.
“The new additions to our fleet will reduce operating costs, increase flexibility and efficiencies for our customers."
Each crane weighs 1,369 tons, is 425 feet (129m) long, and rises 590 feet (180m) above the water. Super post Panamax cranes can handle cargo on vessels 22 containers wide or more.
The cranes will be used to increase the port’s capacity to 6.5m TEUs by 2018 – double its current capacity.
“These preparations will ensure that when the economy does turn around, our rebound will be that much greater,” says Marchand.
Wilson Tillotson, GPA’s director of engineering and maintenance, says the cranes are energy-efficient and will be powered solely by electricity. “The cranes will generate more than 30% of their total energy requirements by tapping into the power of gravity and kinetic energy. For every one hour each of these cranes is operational, it uses its own power for approximately 18 minutes."
|New crane introduced at open house |
|Italian crane manufacturer TCM has introduced its new 55-ton rough-terrain crane at an open house event in Italy.|
The RTCW 55 includes a five-section boom with four hydraulic extensions, including two independently extendable and two linked. It can reach a maximum speed of 40km/h (24 mph) and has four steering modes: front, rear, concentric and crab.
It is equipped with an auxiliary winch, hydraulic jib, disk brakes, a camera for the main and auxiliary winches, and rear- and front-view cameras.
The rough-terrain crane is already available in Eastern Europe.
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|Aichi appoints Belgium distributor |
|Thermote & Vanhalst NV has announced it has been appointed the official importer of Aichi aerial platforms.|
The company will be responsible for the distribution of Aichi in the Belgian, Luxembourg and French markets.
Thermote & Vanhalst – part of TVH – is also the official importer for Doosan, Icem, Lafis, Thervan, Dino Lift and Dambach.
The Japanese-based Aichi Corporation has been producing aerial work platforms for over 46 years. In Japan it accounts for 70% of the aerial lifts used for the communication, construction and utility industries.
Aichi recently partnered with Toyota Industrial Equipment to ensure even wider distribution of its products.
|Linde receives two awards in China |
|Linde (China) has won two awards for its products and contribution to the local economy.|
Xiamen Municipal Government has awarded the forklift company the 2008 Xiamen Top 10 Industrial Enterprise award for its outstanding production contribution to Xiamen economic development.
The company also received the Xiamen Outstanding New Product accolade for its 115 Series Electric Reach Truck (R14/16/20S).
CP Quek, Linde (China) CEO, says the company is honoured to have won these two awards. "Linde will continue to strengthen our research and development capabilities and to maintain our technological leadership in the industry."
Meanwhile, Li Chuan, vice governor of Fujian, and a 30-member provincial and municipal government delegation visited Linde's Chinese facilities.
Chuan says he was impressed by Linde's commitment to strengthening local R&D capabilities and commended the company's market and technology leadership.
|Standards group solicits industry support|
Washington, DC, United States
|The Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation (ITSDF) needs financial support to continue its current level of services to the forklift industry. Annual costs approximate USD120,000.|
ITSDF assumed management of the development process of Standard B 56 for industrial forklifts from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in April 2006 and has received support only from the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) and the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA).
“The ITSDF board of trustees is due to meet at the end of June and will examine the current panoply of services in light of current economic conditions,” says William Montwieler, president of Washington-based ITSDF and executive director of ITA. “Additional funding must be found if services are to be continued at their current high level.”
Montwieler says ITSDF hopes that those parties benefiting from the free distribution of standards will support the organization. Since the ITSDF website opened, users have downloaded more than 26,000 copies of standards relating to safety, accessories, measurement of sound, visibility evaluation and LPG fuel cylinders. Requests for the standards came primarily from manufacturers and dealers, 37%; users, 22%; educators, 6%; and government agencies, 5%.
“Difficult discussions will occur in June, and difficult decisions will be made,” Montwieler says. “ITSDF is seeking a way to contact those individuals who have downloaded standards and request their support. While there is great goodwill to be had, ITA simply cannot continue to contribute upwards of USD100,000 a year to the development and management of standards that are widely used by a variety of manufacturers, end users, dealers and others.”
Montwieler points to the possibility “that ITSDF will decline to manage the work on standards for organizations that do not exhibit financial support.”
Montwieler issued an initial appeal in a February 27 letter. “Because, and indeed in spite, of the continuing economic challenges facing us, we need to ask you to ask your employer for more help,” the message says. “We would like you to ask your employer to commit to contribute USD1,000 or USD3,000 or USD5,000 to ITSDF. Funds are deductible as a charitable contribution.”
Players other than Washington-based ITA and Charlotte, North Carolina-based MHIA need “to step up to the plate,” Montwieler says. “This should be a shared burden. . . . Should funds not be forthcoming, it is conceivable that services will need to be cut. . . . We need help to continue the service at this level.”
In 2004, the non-profit American National Standards Institute (ANSI) authorized the transfer of Standard B 56 from ASME to the newly formed ITSDF. ANSI, which has its operations center in New York, coordinates the US voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system.
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|RFID company expands presence in EMEA region |
|An RFID component supplier and a smart card consulting firm have joined forces to expand the sale of transponders in the EMEA region.|
The sales and business development agreement between KSW Microtec and ARE CON will target smart card manufacturers in the region. The agreement will focus on KSW’s range of High Frequency (HF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) RFID inlays and pre-laminates for contactless identification applications.
Thomas Hitzer, CEO of KSW Microtec, says ARE CON’s technical and business understanding of contactless smart card markets provides KSW with a great opportunity to strengthen its presence throughout the whole region.
ARE CON represents companies such as PET foil manufacturers Agfa Materials; high security software developer for card applications Monet+; and AdvanIDe, one of the largest semiconductor distributors in the smart card market.
Bernhard F Wernberger, managing director at ARE CON, says KSW Microtec’s standing as a world leader in RFID technology and innovation is the ideal support for its specialised sales. “It (the agreement) guarantees a stalwart foundation for continued growth, even during challenging times,” he says.
KSW Microtec has also appointed Birgit Kobbe-Gipper as EMEA sales manager. She will operate an EMEA sales force for RFID applications in the asset management, access and security, ePayment and eTicketing segments.
|Canadian forklift rally announced for May |
Richmond, BC, Canada
|Canadian forklift operators will put their skills to the test at the 12th annual B.C. Championship Forklift Rally in May.|
The event, organised by the Canadian Materials Handling & Distribution Society (CMHDS), will bring together forklift operators from across British Columbia to test their skills and knowledge.
Participants will compete in a precision driving course that will require them to navigate through a variety of forklift activities. They will also have their forklift and safety knowledge tested in a written test based on WorkSafeBC regulations.
The top three participants in each of the three divisions will receive trophies and prize money. Total prize money is almost USD3,000.
John Gilder, events and membership co-ordinator for CMHDS, says the rally is the society’s centrepiece event. “The main purpose of the rally is to promote forklift safety and to recognise the forklift operators in our member companies for their knowledge, skills and proficiency,” he says. “We believe it helps promote more professionalism and higher standards in the industry.”
The rally has three divisions – reach, counter and power pallet jack. Each division has prizes for first, second and third (USD500, USD300 and USD100).
Gilder says the entrance fees are USD65 per person. “This is usually covered by their employers,” he explains.
Rally competitors must have been operating a forklift for a minimum of one year and be accident-free for one year.
CMHDS is a non-profit group of warehousing and distribution managers in British Columbia, Canada.
|Fined for forklift safety failure |
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
|Metal fabrication company Phil Fehring Engineering has been convicted and fined for failing to comply with three safety improvement notices issued in 2006.|
The improvement notices required the retrofitting of operator restraints in its forklifts, which was only done at a cost of $730 for each of its three forklifts several days before the court case.
Failing to act in time cost the company three convictions and AUD11,000 in fines and court costs.
Magistrate David Cottrill said if the company had taken appropriate advice and acted quickly, a lengthy legal process could have been avoided and the costs to the business substantially mitigated.
Describing the company’s failings as serious with high stakes, he said the firm had put its head in the sand.
The company contested the validity of the notices through WorkSafe’s internal review process and then took one notice to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal which endorsed WorkSafe’s authority to issue them.
Forklifts are among Victoria’s most dangerous machines. Of the 56 forklift-related deaths since 1985, 11 were forklift operators who were crushed by the machine in a tip-over when they were thrown from, or jumped, from their seat.
The Australian Standards have required operator restraints on new forklifts since 1995 and WorkSafe has been engaged in a campaign to encourage employers to retrofit seatbelts on all forklifts manufactured before 1995 where reasonably practicable.
WorkSafe’s executive director, John Merritt, says safety improvement notices were central to the enforcement of Victoria’s health and safety laws.
|Economic outlook worsens |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Australian businesses expect the domestic environment to get worse before it gets better.|
Results from the latest survey by Dun & Bradstreet indicate that Australia will experience a difficult downturn as a result of the global economic crisis, with executives anticipating a further deterioration in business conditions and performance in the June quarter.
Some 57% of firms anticipate declining sales and 65% expect the same for profits. Expectations for employment and capital investment are following the same downward trend, with 27% of firms expecting to cut back on staff and 12% anticipating a need to decrease capital investment.
Selling price expectations rose by 30% in the nine months from the March quarter 2008 to the December quarter 2008 and hit their highest level ever recorded in the March 2009 quarter. Expectations have dropped back 4% for the June quarter; however three in four firms expect that they will raise prices.
Dun & Bradstreet CEO Christine Christian says the deteriorating outlook is evident in expectations across a range of indices but of most concern is the significant drop in employment expectations.
“This is a clear sign businesses are preparing for the worst and the impact on Australian households could be significant."
Dr Duncan Ironmonger, D&B economic consultant, says the latest ABS National Accounts show the Australian economy has now had three quarters of below-average growth, with the December quarter the first in negative territory.
|Forklift cradle accessories improves productivity |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|The latest forklift cradle accessories from Motorola allow forklift operators to use their mobile computers in handheld or vehicle-mounted mode with minimal effects from vibration.|
Optional power converters enable the forklift to power the cradle, eliminating the need to charge and manage spare batteries. The cradle can power and charge the docked mobile computer and any peripherals tethered to the cradle’s communication ports.
This flexibility allows for easy integration of corded or wireless peripherals through either the USB or port on the cradle or via Bluetooth functionality on the computer.
“The ability to tether a bar code scanner to the cradle improves operator productivity in scan-intensive environments,” says Craig McKenzie, marketing manager of Peacock Bros, reseller of Motorola products.
The addition of a printer results in on-the-spot printing of barcode labels and picking slips as well as eliminating the need for workers to leave the forklift to travel to a printer.
|Safety code of conduct in logistics |
|The Australian Logistics Council has established the National Logistics Safety Code (NLSC), an industry-based code that sets out the responsibilities of all participants involved in the movement of freight in the supply chain.|
Launched last month, the code is a single comprehensive code for the transport and logistics industry.
It provides a framework and prescribes minimum levels of safety for all players in the logistics supply chain, particularly in Road Transport and OH&S legislative requirements.
The ALC provides administrative and operational support to ensure the smooth operation of the NLSC.
The code applies to the following activities within the supply chain:
• Chain of Responsibility
• Occupational Health & Safety
• Scheduling and transit times
• Time slot management
• Safe loading practices including mass, dimension and load restraint
• Driver fatigue management including driver health and fitness for duty
• Speed compliance
• Vehicle safety
|More on the table, signals Asciano |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Transport infrastructure giant Asciano has signalled, via an announcement this week to the Australian Securities Exchange, that it will widen the scope of its monetisation process beyond its coal business.|
According to the statement: “In response to multiple expressions of interest/proposals from a range of industry and financial parties in relation to a variety of potential transactions, Asciano’s monetisation process now includes formal and concurrent consideration of:
• the sale of up to 100% of either its Coal or Container Ports business;
• proposals received in respect of other assets and businesses; and
• proposals received in relation to transactions that would result in a change of control and/or a recapitalisation of the group.
"Proposals will be assessed based on delivering the maximum value to all securityholders.
"Asciano’s objective remains to announce a transaction by the end of the current financial year."
ABN AMRO and Lazard Carnegie Wylie have been appointed to advise Asciano.
|Work balance grant for small businesses|
|The Australian government has introduced a new grants program to encourage businesses to implement measures that help workers balance their work and family lives. |
The Fresh Ideas for Work and Family program provides grants of AUD5,000 to AUD15,000 (GST inclusive) to small businesses to help meet the set-up costs of family-friendly arrangements that suit the individual needs of the business.
In addition, the program supports small businesses through developing and distributing business- and industry-specific information to assist in implementing family-friendly work arrangements and by having experts within Fair Work Australia from January 2010 to provide assistance in setting up family-friendly work arrangements.
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1. 12th Annual BC Championship Forklift Rally
Surrey, British Colmbia, Canada
Saturday May 2, 20092. The Safety Show Sydney
27-29 October 20083. SITL 2009
24-26 March 20094. BRIMEX 2009
17-19 June 20095. LPG & CNG Gas Forum 2009
18-19 March 20096. ICHCA Luncheon Meeting at the Lakes Hotel Resort Adelaide
24 March 20097. BULKEX 2009
4-6 August 20098. Material Handling & Logistics (MHL) 2009
Auckland, New Zealand
22-23 July 20099. Sydney Materials Handling
27-29 October 2009
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