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|The term “swings and roundabouts” could have been coined specifically for forklifts. When one part of the market is up, another slides. So it’s interesting to read this week about a surge in short-term rentals in the UK. Clearly, demand for forklifts is holding up despite the global economic downturn, but as businesses close the investment tap, new purchases may be out of the question. So it makes sense to hire a forklift to do the work. It’s a win-win: the customer gets a machine for its needs, dealers get much-needed income and manufacturers are able to offload some inventory to dealers. It would be interesting to hear if this is happening in other markets as well.|
|Pilkington awards Briggs GBP1.2M contract |
Cannock, United Kingdom
|Pilkington Automotive has appointed Briggs Equipment, the UK’s national Cat Lift Truck distributor, to manage its materials handling operations, in a GBP1.2 million (USD1.8 million) five-year contract.|
Richard Leese, Pilkington Automotive’s Redditch site manager, says the company is impressed by Briggs’ relationship-based approach and the time the distributor invested into producing a solution for Pilkington.
“They have really exceeded our expectations by reducing damage and energy costs and adding value through improved account management,” Leese explains.
Briggs’ “lifetime cost approach” anticipates helping Pilkington’s European distribution centre reduce costs by nearly GBP100,000 (USD145,532) across its warehousing operations. The move is expected to help Pilkington counter the effects of the economic recession while maintaining its productivity.
Briggs supplied the glass manufacturer with a 29-strong fleet of Cat reach trucks, electric three- and four-wheel counterbalanced trucks and pallet trucks, and Dambach man-up VNA equipment. The battery handling and management solution involves the entire fleet and includes a state-of-the-art battery racking system and intelligent chargers providing monthly battery performance reports and battery maintenance.
Briggs estimates that the solution will realise cost savings of GBP93,000 (USD135,344) over the batteries’ lifetime compared to conventional battery systems. Also, the energy savings help Pilkington meet its environmental targets by reducing its number of electrical units by nearly 300,000 a year.
Each vehicle in Pilkington’s fleet has been fitted with a truck management system and has been modified to ensure each truck meets its department’s specific requirements while retaining its flexibility to adapt to other uses.
Briggs account manager Les Knight says the forklift distributor and service provider undertook a series of detailed surveys over a 12-month period to understand Pilkington’s cost reduction and environmental priorities.
“The final solution has helped to secure significant cost savings for Pilkington Automotive whilst maintaining high levels of productivity,” Knight says.
Pilkington Automotive, part of the NSG Group of Japan, is a global manufacturer and supplier of flat glass for the automotive industry.
|Gehl strikes new deal with bankers|
West Bend, WI, United States
|Manitou subsidiary Gehl Company has reached an agreement with its lenders, allowing the company access to credit and time to negotiate a new credit agreement.|
As of 31 March, Gehl owed a group of US banks USD117 milllion as part of a revolving credit agreement it entered into in 2006.
On 16 April, discussions between Gehl and its bankers resulted in a notice of debt repayment by the lenders being rescinded, and Gehl granted access to credit through the agreement it entered into in 2006. The two parties’ agreement includes a 75-day period to negotiate changes to the credit arrangement.
Gehl says it expects to reduce its debt in 2009 using cash generated from its operations. It also anticipates entering into a long-term secured credit facility to replace the old credit agreement.
Manitou BF’s EUR235 million (USD311 million) acquisition of Gehl negatively affected its 2008 financial results. The group’s net profit was EUR4 million (USD5.3 million) after EUR52 million (USD68.9 million) in goodwill impairment related to Gehl (Forkliftaction.com News #405).
|Forklift rentals rising? |
|Some UK forklift suppliers are noticing an increase in short-term forklift rentals that could be a result of the credit crunch impacting the forklift industry.|
Jungheinrich UK Ltd’s short-term rental director, Neil Warren, says his company has seen a “noticeable increase” in demand for forklifts on short-term deals.
“Traditionally, forklift users have turned to short-term deals to cover peaks like Christmas or Easter, but we are experiencing a growing number of enquiries from companies seeking short-term rental machines because they need a truck but a permanent addition to the fleet is not in the budget,” he explains.
Jungheinrich operates an extensive short-term rental fleet from the manufacturer’s entire range. Forklifts are usually delivered within 24 hours and forklifts not in the UK fleet are sourced from Europe.
“Users are seeking agile solutions for their handling requirements and short-term deals are one of the options we can offer to help companies to budget more easily during the current climate,” Warren says.
Doosan Infracore UK Ltd dealer manager Jason Jordan says his company is also seeing an increase in short-term rentals.
“Doosan operates a dealer network in the UK and different parts of the country are affected by different things at different times,” he says, also pointing to the traditional year-end peak demand for rentals.
“At the moment, there are a lot of companies unable to commit to five-year deals and as such, when their existing long-term contracts are due for renewal, there is a tendency to roll on the contract,” Jordan says.
He explains that most forklift suppliers then leave the existing forklifts on site for as long as the customer wants them and will internally transfer the truck from the long-term contract onto the short-term hire fleet, after fulfilling the financing requirements for the forklift.
“This will increase the number of trucks on the short-term hire fleet for the forklift supplier and so the trend will show an increase in short-term hire,” Jordan adds.
James Clark, secretary general of the British Industrial Truck Association, says the association does not collect figures on rentals but he is not surprised if forklift rentals are increasing.
“Firms are understandably taking the 'short view' and are unwilling to commit to longer-term investments, such as buying and maintaining a forklift. This is where the flexibility of renting is an advantage. However, at some stage even rental fleets must be replaced by new vehicles and that is an indeterminate factor at this stage."
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|Recession Watch: Most are confident about 12-month outlook|
Brinkworth, United Kingdom
|According to Transport Intelligence’s latest Recession Watch report, the majority of companies it surveyed are more confident about the economy in 12 months’ time than its present state.|
UK-based Transport Intelligence (TI) provides a snapshot of the industry’s health by including a Global Logistics Business Confidence Index in its Recession Watch March 2009 report.
For its confidence index, TI polled 500 industry executives from different sectors, segments and countries in the first week of March 2009. Respondents were asked to rate the strength of the market in which they operated. They were asked how they felt the next three months would compare to the previous three, and how they felt the next 12 months would compare to the previous year.
A score was attached for each response. For example, if they were “much more confident”, they scored 100, “slightly more confident, the score would be 50, “slightly less confident”, scored a -50, and “much less confident”, the score would be -100.
The country that experienced the largest decline in confidence from February to March was China. In February, confidence in China was relatively high at 34.3 but this figure dropped rapidly in March to -13.3. Meanwhile, India, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the UK showed positive levels of confidence in March.
For confidence levels 12 months in the future, there appeared to be a sharp decline in pessimism for operators in North America and CEE contrasted with a sharp decline in confidence for China and the Asia Pacific region.
When it came to confidence levels in different industry sectors, the main feature for March was a fall in confidence among respondents operating in the consumer goods sector. According to TI, this is traditionally a sector that performs better than most during an economic downturn.
All industry sectors showed a drop in confidence in trading for the next 12 months, with the automotive sector expressing the least confidence.
Of all logistics segments, the express industry is currently the most confident, with the intermodal and contract logistics sectors also remaining positive. By contrast, the shipping sector appears very pessimistic with a negative score of 27 points.
Although the express industry segment was optimistic about current prospects, it is pessimistic regarding the future. For shipping, the 12-month outlook is seen as poor and the sea freight forwarders are also negative about the future. For the express, road, contract logistics and air freight sectors, the 12-month outlook is less depressed than the three-month view.
The world’s main container ports continued to see decreased TEU throughput compared with the same month in 2008.
Singapore Port, which saw throughput fall 20% in February, continued its spiral with a further 20% drop in March. TEU volume dropped 6.3% from 2 million in January 2009 to 1.85 million in February 2009.
The two US ports tracked, Long Beach and Los Angeles, were hit hardest in February, with year-on-year drops of 40% and 32.6% respectively. The region also experienced the highest reduction in TEU from February to March with drops of 20.3% and 29.5%.
Hong Kong’s February throughput was 26% lower than the same month in 2008, compared to January’s year-on-year figure of 23%. The February volume was 19.5% lower than in January.
For more on Recession Watch March 2009, visit www.transportintelligence.com or email Sarah Smith at email@example.com.
|Stimulus funds push fuel cells in forklifts |
Washington, DC, United States
|US Department of Energy stimulus funding and private projects such as one involving Nestlé are spurring the introduction of fuel cell technology in forklifts.|
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced awards for forklift-related projects in these amounts:
- USD6.1 million to deploy 156 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for fleets of electric forklifts at six distribution centers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Genco Supply Chain Solutions. Three of the centres are in Pennsylvania, two are in Ohio and the sixth is in South Carolina. Success could lead to further conversions at some or all of Genco’s other 109 distribution centres
- USD1.3 million to deploy 35 fuel cell systems as lead-acid battery replacements for powering electric forklifts at a Springfield, Missouri service center of Memphis, Tennessee-based logistics services provider FedEx Corp. Success with this project may lead to other conversions at some or all of FedEx’s other 470 service centres.
- USD1.2 million to deploy 90 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for a fleet of pallet trucks—a first global green field pallet truck installation—at a Houston, Texas distribution center that Houston-based foodservice distributor Sysco Corp plans to open in August. Success may lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of Sysco’s other 169 distribution centres.
- USD1.1 million to deploy 23 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for powering electric forklifts at a Fort Collins, Colorado facility of Brussels, Belgium-based brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. Success could lead to further conversions at some or all of 11 US facilities of Anheuser-Busch.
- USD1.1 million to deploy 10 fuel cell-powered forklifts in the Topton, Pennsylvania facility of East Penn Manufacturing Company Inc. A natural gas reformer, storage device and dispensing system from Nuvera Fuel Cells Inc of Billerica, Massachusetts will supply fuel. East Penn is based in Lyon Station, Pennsylvania.
Chu announced total funding of USD41.9 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for 13 projects to deploy fuel cells. He says industry participants would provide USD72.4 million as their cost-sharing portion. The Washington-based department says several projects relate to emergency backup-power installations and demonstrations of stationary fuel cells for combined heat and power in the larger residential and commercial markets.
Nine of the programs were awarded to customers of Latham, New York-based Plug Power Inc and involve more than 304 GenDrive units replacing lead-acid batteries in electric forklift trucks. These product installations allow for fleet conversions within warehouses and distribution centres in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.
Meanwhile, Nestlé Water North America Inc is moving to fuel a fleet of 32 Class 1 Yale forklifts with hydrogen-powered fuel cells in the firm’s Dallas, Texas facility.
Christopher Lyon, process improvement manager for Nestle Waters fleet services, says the project is getting “support from the front lines to senior management” and demonstrates an exploration of alternative energy options.
Air Products & Chemicals Inc of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania will provide hydrogen and hydrogen fueling station technology at the Dallas location.
Tom Joseph, business development manager for hydrogen energy systems at Air Products, says, “This project further strengthens our collaboration with Plug Power in providing alternative energy solutions.”
Nestle, a unit of Vevey, Switzerland-based multinational food packager Nestlé SA, expects to have the fueling station operational in Dallas during the second quarter.
|Baoli joins KION as its fourth brand |
|The grand opening ceremony of KION Baoli (Jiangsu) Forklift Co Ltd, held at the Jingjiang Economic Development Zone in Jiangsu province early this month, marked the entry of a fourth forklift brand into the group.|
KION Baoli is a joint venture between leading forklift maker KION and the Jiangsu Baoli Group (Forkliftaction.com News #394). KION already owns the global forklift brands Linde, Still and OM.
Quek Chingpong, CEO of KION Asia and chairman of KION Baoli, says the new company will adopt best practice in manufacturing processes and quality assurance from the KION Group.
“In less than three months of integration work, we are able to offer the market a (facelifted) product. This product will see improved efficiency and quality enhancements,” he says.
Quek explains that the speed of some Baoli forklifts has been improved by 19% and new safety features include automatic speed control for three-wheel electric forklifts. KION Baoli also unveiled a new logo for the brand, aimed at creating a “modern impression”.
The new company will capitalise on KION’s operational strengths and Baoli’s low-cost manufacturing platform to establish itself as a leader in the global low-end materials handling market.
KION Baoli has a global network of over 200 sales, service and branch offices in the US, Germany and Dubai, and branches, sales offices and dealerships in more than 40 Chinese cities.
Guests at the ceremony included Jiangsu province government officials, the General Consul of the German General Consulate in Shanghai, a German Chamber of Commerce representative, and KION Group CEO Gordon Riske.
|Schmidt represents World-Lift, Tailift |
Racine, WI, United States
|The Schmidt family, a player in the forklift service business since 1971, has been appointed a dealer for the World-Lift and Tailift brands in a region covering southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.|
Rick Schmidt founded the family-owned and -operated company. His son, Alan, is president of sales entity Schmidt Lift Inc and service business Schmidt Industrial Truck Inc. Alan Schmidt’s wife, Renae, is vice president with responsibilities for accounting and administration.
The businesses employ 12, occupy 15,000 square feet (1,350 sqm) in Racine and focus on the geography generally between Gurnee, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“We are doing everything we can to keep a positive attitude right now,” says Gene Sharrett, operations manager with Schmidt Industrial Truck, which employs six certified service technicians and has 12 repair bays, three mobile service trucks and a delivery truck. “We service more than 400 customers.”
Schmidt Lift began representing the World-Lift brand in mid-2008, built a closer relationship during ProMat 2009 in Chicago, Illinois and became a Tailift dealer after the 12-15 January trade show. “We knew we needed a brand” to be competitive in the forklift market desides Schmidt’s historic roots as a service center, Sharrett notes. Securing the brands “raised our game”.
In mid-2004, Tailift Co Ltd of Taipei, Taiwan named Worldwide Wholesale Forklifts Inc of Fort Lauderdale, Florida as an exclusive distributor for Tailift-brand forklifts in certain regions. The Tailift organisation manufactures the World-Lift brand forklifts at a plant in Qingdao, China and distributes and exports the equipment. “Schmidt has the dealership authority to sell both product lines to customers and sub-dealers in its area,” says Peter D Vaz, Worldwide president. “Worldwide is the exclusive distributor of the World-Lift line (and) the exclusive distributor of the Tailift brand, east of the Mississippi (River) at this time.”
Worldwide Wholesale has 236 dealers in the US, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands, Vaz notes.
The Schmidt organisation faces challenges.
“We are holding our own as an independent (forklift firm and) doing everything we can” to communicate “a positive approach to a slumping economy,” Sharrett notes. “I went back to school.” Currently, Sharrett is enrolled in a marketing course in the college of business and management at Cardinal Stritch University. With the assistance of other students, Sharrett is “applying his studies to a real life situation” relating to effective target marketing for Schmidt products and services.
In addition to forklifts, the Schmidt team also represents lines of aerial lift platforms, scrubbers, sweepers, balers and personal transporters.
|Volume drops for Terex platform unit |
Westport, CT, United States
|First quarter sales in the Terex Corp aerial work platform (AWP) segment decreased 65.6% to USD228.5 million from USD664.7 million. The decrease for the period ended 31 March was about 64%, excluding the impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates.|
AWP backlog dropped 81.3% to USD148.9 million from USD794.5 million, and the business segment reported an operating loss of USD41.0 million versus a profit of USD108.7 million last year.
In a conference call with security analysts, Terex acknowledged that the AWP segment was “hit first and the hardest” among the Terex businesses.
Terex said AWP has taken “aggressive global headcount reductions of more than 40% since June 2008” and projects completion of further “headcount alignment” by June 30.
Terex says it is “not seeing price deterioration” in the AWP market and that AWP business managers have “done a nice job of being disciplined with the customer base”.
The company says the AWP segment was slowing its “China expansion to preserve cash” and continuing use of temporary plant shutdowns and short weeks.
Companywide, “the downturn in order activity has been severe though parts of our business continue to perform adequately,” says Ronald M DeFeo, Terex chairman and chief executive officer. The adequacy reference was to the Terex segments for cranes and material handling and mining.
For the quarter, Westport-based Terex lost USD74.9 million on sales of USD1.30 billion, down 44.9% from USD2.36 billion in the comparable 2008 period.
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|New Ikea needs forklift drivers|
|About 280 jobs - including forklift driver positions - are up for grabs at the new Ikea furniture store which opens in July at Ballymun, Dublin.|
The Irish Times reported 4,000 people, including many who did not live anywhere near the new store, queued up at the Ballymun Civic Centre over the weekend to inquire about the vacancies.
Ikea wants to employ 500 people at the Ballymun store, its second store in Ireland following Ikea Belfast, which opened in December 2007. All of its managerial positions have been filled and the 280 entry-level jobs are in logistics, sales, check-out positions, food service and customer service.
“Apart from the forklift drivers, we’re not looking for any qualifications although some require experience but all that will be clear when people apply online,” says human resources manager Sharon Moran.
Forklift driver Michael Harold was among the crowd who came to the open day on Sunday. With over 20 years’ experience driving forklifts, he wanted to know why he had been turned down for a job with Ikea without an interview.
“I’ve been out of work since Christmas. I was looking at the video they have here on the job and I could do it blindfolded. I know of someone who got one of the jobs with one year’s experience. I just want them to tell me why,” Harold says.
Ikea had organised two open days last weekend to provide information on the available positions. Applications close next Friday and must be made online. To apply for a job with Ikea, Dublin go to http://ikea.ie/recruitment/.
|Safety, environmental violations draw sentences |
Trenton, NJ, United States
|Judge Mary L Cooper is sentencing four former managers of a ductile iron pipe plant and the owner of the Phillipsburg, New Jersey facility for workplace safety and environmental violations, and a labour organisation is using the convictions to promote a change in federal law.|
During a seven-month jury trial in 2006 in US District Court in Trenton, prosecutors said that management concealed facts from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about a March 24, 2000 forklift fatality involving foundry worker Alfred Coxe, 47, and that management instructed another injured worker to falsely inform OSHA that he did not break his leg in an April 27, 1999 forklift accident.
Other accusations included violating permit requirements, discharging polluted material into a river, impeding federal investigations and making false statements.
The judge sentenced former plant manager John Prisque to 71 months in a federal prison on 20 April and another manager, Scott Faubert, to 41 months on 21 April. Jeffrey Maury was to be sentenced 22 April, Craig Davidson on 23 April and Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co on 24 April.
Privately owned parent firm McWane Inc is based in Birmingham, Alabama.
In a related matter, the labour union partnership Change to Win wants the US Congress to make fundamental changes in the US Occupational Safety and Health Act and make employers more accountable for lapses.
Eric Frumin, the partnership’s health and safety coordinator, cites the Atlantic States case as an example and encourages legislators to strengthen the current law, initially enacted in 1970.
Seven unions formed Change to Win in 2005. Now, the partnership unions represent six million workers.
|Hyster adds to new-gen electric forklifts and warehouse range |
Fleet, United Kingdom
|Hyster Europe has added the E2.2-3.5XN models to its new generation of electric forklifts and expanded its warehouse range.|
Designed for indoor use, the EXN forklifts come in five models with capacities up to 3.5 tonnes, have compact dimensions and cushion tyres. They are suitable for print, paper and packaging; food and beverage production; manufacturing; transport and distribution applications.
Operator comforts include an adjustable full-suspension seat and armrest, generous foot and storage space, mini-levers designed for easy control, low step height and an integral horn button for easy driving in reverse.
The forklifts have an “advanced design drive axle with power-assisted regenerative brakes and steer axle that features the Hyster Stability Mechanism”.
Their electrical system features a CANbus communication network managed by the Pacesetter Vehicle System Manager that continuously monitors truck operation and protects key components. Hyster claims the EXN range is easy to service and provides a 1,000-hour service interval as standard.
Meanwhile, a new series of AC pallet trucks for demanding warehouse operations has expanded Hyster’s warehouse forklift range.
The P1.8-2.2 pedestrian-powered pallet trucks will help companies save money through “enhanced performance and energy efficiency combined with longer service intervals and exceptional reliability”, Hyster says.
Hyster claims the 1.2kW AC traction motor provides excellent performance because of increased acceleration optimising the number of loads moved per hour through variable performance settings.
MOSFET controls that “maximise motor and control efficiency” ensure low energy consumption and increased battery shift life. The pallet trucks are low-maintenance with extended service intervals of 12 months or 1,000 hours.
|JCB welcomes Prince, opens world’s biggest plant|
Rocester, United Kingdom
Prince William will visit JCB’s world headquarters in Rocester this Friday to mark a milestone in the company’s history – the production of its 750,000th machine.
The visit will be the Prince’s first to JCB, which will see him touring the factory and offices, and meeting employees at a special ceremony marking the company’s milestone.
Separately, JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford has officially opened the world’s largest backhoe loader plant.
The USD60 million factory in Faridabad, India was extended to double its capacity, allowing it to produce 100 backhoe loaders a day.
Rocla applies to delist shares
Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Europe BV (MCFE) has initiated proceedings following Chapter 18 of the Finnish Companies Act to acquire all the shares in Rocla Oyj.
Meanwhile, Rocla’s board of directors has resolved to apply for the termination of trading in Rocla shares and for the delisting of the shares from NASDAQ OMX Helsinki Oy’s official list.
MCFE currently has 99.3% of all shares in Rocla except for the treasury shares held by Rocla.
|Linde forklift raises Pharoah |
London, United Kingdom
|A Linde reach truck helped raise a six-metre high Pharaoh statue made from 200,000 Lego bricks on its stand at Legoland Windsor.|
The statue is one of the tallest Lego models in Britain.
Legoland’s warehouse and logistics manager, Ian McCormack, selected the R14-G reach truck after consulting a Linde salesperson.
McCormack says he was impressed by Linde’s contribution to the decision-making process.
“We thought we needed a new dedicated warehouse reach truck but they came in, assessed our needs and suggested the R14-G reach truck. This can be used both inside and outside of the warehouse as well as for unloading commercial vehicles in the yard area when the existing counterbalanced forklift is unavailable,” he explains.
“This has given us much more flexibility in our operation around the site,” he adds.
Richard Brindsen, Linde Material Handling South-East sales executive, says a demonstration at the Legoland site helped seal the deal.
“Also, they liked the idea of electric-powered trucks because they are quieter and friendlier to the environment,” he says.
Linde claims to be the market leader for materials handling equipment in the UK. It has sales and service centres around the country and factories in Basingstoke and Merthyr Tydfil.
|Now is best time to buy forklifts |
Smithfield, New South Wales, Australia
|With just over two months left to take advantage of the government’s 30% investment allowance (Forkliftaction.com News #399), forklift dealers are hoping potential buyers will see the light.|
According to Craig Kenchington, general manager, marketing, at Crown Equipment, the current economic climate has delivered a financial ‘window of opportunity’ that offers incentives not seen for decades.
“The 30% investment allowance is only one of a number of factors that have converged at this time. Interest rates are at their lowest point for nearly four decades, and companies can still apply the tax deduction for depreciation on the full purchase price of a (forklift),” says Kenchington.
“This actually means that with depreciation combined with the investment allowance, tax deductions can be in the vicinity of 50% of the purchase price in the first year,” he adds.
Small businesses will be able to access the tax break for assets costing AUD1,000 or more. For all other businesses, the asset threshold is AUD10,000.
The tax break provides an additional tax deduction for assets acquired from 13 December 2008 to 30 June 2009, where the asset is also installed before 30 June 2010. The deduction will be equal to 30% of the asset's cost.
For assets acquired between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2009 and where they are installed ready for use before 31 December 2010, the deduction is 10% of the asset's cost.
Assets that are eligible will be tangible depreciating assets used in carrying on a business, for which a deduction is available under Division 40 of the ITAA97.
Further, the tax break will be available for new expenditure on existing assets as well as for new assets. The assets must be used in Australia.
|Woolworths staff win forklift comp|
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|The finals of the national forklift competition held recently at Melbourne Materials Handling saw the male and female titles won by Michael Eden and Anita Maliu, both of Woolworths.|
The field of 19 finalists from Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland included last year’s champions, Angela Molloy and Trevor Webb, with Molloy coming a close second this year.
The competition was one of the highlights of the show, which was held in conjunction with Safety in Action, and an expo on carbon reduction and trading.
According to the organiser, there were 10,290 visitors, a drop of 10% on last year.
|New pallet reader technology |
Oakleigh, Victoria, Australia
|Australian supply chain innovator Peacock Bros is just weeks away from offering a new supply chain solution to warehouses which involves the use of a forklift-mounted optical reader that eliminates the need to scan individual barcodes on pallets and can replace the need for RFID tags.|
The system, tested by the company’s global partner, Sky-Trax, uses a camera which takes a digital snapshot of the side of a loaded pallet, enabling all 1D and 2D barcodes on that pallet to be deciphered.
The new technology works in combination with the Sky-Trax indoor positioning system, with the first installation successfully completed at Toyota in the United States.
“This is a more cost-effective option for warehouse operations that need to scan and identify individual barcodes and, in most operations, it can replace RFID,” says managing director Neil Crump.
He tells Forkliftaction.com News that while the potential of RFID technology is enormous, the cost of RFID tags is off-putting.
“RFID is a fantastic system but the cost of tags, which could range from 20 cents to $10 depending on size, capacity and type, makes it unaffordable for many companies. The optical camera technology eliminates the need for RFID tags and could save companies thousands of dollars.”
For example, last year Peacock Bros completed its first full installation using RFID-equipped forklifts to pinpoint the tracking of millions of pallets at a fruit warehouse in New Zealand.
It’s now feasible that a similar system can be installed using optical cameras and doing away with the need for RFID tags, yet still retaining most of the benefits such as real-time tracking of a pallet’s location and instant visibility of a pallet’s status.
Although not typical, there are some situations where the new technology can’t replace the use of RFID, such as when there are nine boxes to a row on a pallet as RFID is the only way to read the inner boxes that aren’t visible.
|Port operator considers proposals |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Ports operator Asciano has received a range of proposals from a number of parties in relation to its expanded monetisation process (Forkliftaction.com News #402).|
Proposals include indicative offers for a range of different assets, together with a number of proposals relating to transactions that may result in a change of control and/or a recapitalisation of the group.
All of the proposals are conditional and non-binding.
The company, which hopes to announce a transaction by the end of the current financial year, says it is evaluating the proposals and will proceed to select a smaller group of parties to complete further due diligence and provide final binding offers.
Commenting on the operating performance for the financial year to date, Asciano’s chief executive officer, Mark Rowsthorn, says: “The key trends which began to emerge in our business during the later stages of the December quarter have continued through the March quarter.
“A number of our non-bulk operations, particularly containerised imports, steel and motor vehicles, have experienced a deteriorating operating environment. Whilst the return of some stability to container volumes during March provides some encouragement, we expect market conditions for these businesses to remain challenging in the short term.
“On the other hand, our bulk operations continue to perform extremely well. We expect the current robust operating environment for our coal and grain rail haulage businesses, in particular, to continue for the balance of the financial year and into 2009/2010.
‘The strength of these businesses, together with the extensive efficiency initiatives being actively pursued across all of the business units, result in us continuing to expect that Asciano’s 2008/09 full-year EBITDA (excluding significant and non-recurring items) will be above the level achieved in 2007/08.”
|Businesses hang onto cash |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Australian businesses, under pressure from the global economic downturn, are displaying poor payment behaviour, according to a global risk report by Dun & Bradstreet.|
The report reveals a five-day increase in terms since September 2007, taking business-to-business payment terms to almost double the standard term.
According to Christine Christian, D&B's CEO, the findings show that Australian companies are holding onto their cash for longer in an attempt to manage their cash flow and improve liquidity.
"However, the flow-on effect of this trend is a reduced focus on business development and investment, and consequently a further decline in economic growth. If Australia is to avoid the extent of pain that other nations are experiencing, we need to ensure that payment terms do not continue along the same trajectory."
Victoria continues to be the slowest paying state, averaging 59.2 days to settle accounts in the March 2009 quarter; NSW and the ACT follow closely behind at 58.8 and 58.5 days respectively, both rising from 58.0 days in the final quarter of 2008.
Both public and private companies have increased their payment terms from the last quarter of 2008, however private companies are averaging payment terms that are over three days quicker then their public counterparts.
Small businesses are the quickest to pay, with companies in the six-19 employee category more than a week quicker to settle accounts than big business (53.9 days), despite an increase of 2.4 days since Q1 2008.
Businesses with 500+ employees continue to be the worst payers, averaging double the standard term (62.1 days) to settle accounts. This is an increase of 2.8 days on the December quarter of 2008.
“Regardless of an organisation's size or sector, strong cash flow is a critical success factor. If Australian businesses are to stem the tide against global economic issues, then reducing payment cycles must be seen as a priority,” concludes Christian.
|NZ port rethinks operations |
Auckland, New Zealand
|New Zealand’s largest container port by volume, Ports of Auckland, has announced a major proposal to reorganise its operations.|
Under the proposal, still subject to consultation, the port would berth the majority of visiting container ships at its newly expanded Fergusson terminal, and base all stevedoring staff there.
At present, container ship schedules and stevedoring staff are split between the Fergusson and Bledisloe container terminals, which are run semi-independently.
“We propose increasing the proportion of containers handled at Fergusson, already New Zealand’s largest container terminal, and moving to a single workforce,” says MD Jens Madsen.
Madsen says the proposed changes would provide significant cost savings and further enhance Ports of Auckland’s productivity.
Madsen believes that although the port would handle as many containers as it could at Fergusson, some regular services would continue to berth at Bledisloe.
“Under this proposal, Bledisloe would remain an essential part of our container operation, servicing some regular callers, ships which arrive early or late for slots at Fergusson, and providing vital capacity at peak periods. It would also house a range of support services currently located at Fergusson.
“In addition, Bledisloe would be utilised to relieve pressure on Freyberg and Jellicoe general wharves, where space at times is tight.”
The proposal would mean an overall reduction in staff numbers of 30, out of 202 currently employed in the affected parts of the business. Engineering staff are not affected by the proposal.
Madsen hopes that most of the redundancies can be achieved voluntarily.
“We will be spending the next few weeks consulting with staff and customers. A final decision will be made in the week commencing 11 May 2009.”
Container volumes at Ports of Auckland were down 7.4% for the January-March quarter compared to the same period in 2008, despite the company strengthening its market position.
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|Jengtai seeks OEM dealers |
|Jengtai manufactures a global range of forklift spare parts for wheel rims. These products can be used for Toyota, TCM, Komatsu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Tailift, Shinko, Hyster, Yale, NYK/Nichiyu,etc. With many years’ experience, we produce products which have been successfully exported to OEM and After Market customers.|
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|Calor and FLTA join forces for safety event|
Alton, United Kingdom
|UK gas supplier Calor will jointly sponsor the 2009 Safety Conference with the Fork Lift Truck Association at Warwick University. The seventh conference, to be held on 30 September and themed “Understanding and Communicating the Risks”, will include presentations on what the forklift industry is doing to highlight workplace health and safety risks.|
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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