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|This month’s special feature looks at Fleet and Asset Management systems and represents one type of feature – those based around forklift applications. The other type of special report we run examines geographic regions and their forklift markets. These reports are planned at the start of the year and designed to address information needs and to provide advertising opportunities, especially for niche suppliers. So if there are any topics that you would like to see included in future editions, please let us know.|
|Safety and savings by remote control|
|Businesses are all looking for ways to improve the bottom line these days. As Melissa Barnett reports, vehicle management systems help do just that and by remote control – no need to even be at the office. Read more|
|Recession separates winners from losers |
London, United Kingdom
|Despite the gloomy UK economic climate, a number of forklift companies are turning in “outstanding financial performance”.|
A new study of the financial state of the UK forklift industry by analyst Plimsoll Publishing has found that despite the recession, 128 of UK’s top 483 forklift companies come in with strong financial ratings.
Plimsoll has allocated each of the UK’s largest forklift companies to one of five ratings based on their overall financial performance. Ratings have been given as Strong, Good, Mediocre, Caution and Danger.
More than a quarter (27%) rated “strong”, while at the other extreme, 20% face uncertain futures and are ranked in the Danger category.
David Pattison, senior analyst at Plimsoll, is not surprised to see the high number of companies on the Danger list, given the current economic crisis.
“However, we were very surprised to see the high number of excellent businesses making it on to the Strong list. I think these firms have really upped their game in these difficult times and they are concrete proof that necessity is the mother of invention,” he says.
On average, the Strong firms have seen sales increase by 15.8%, which Pattison describes as “an impressive statistic in a market which is generally flat”.
This demonstrates the strongest players’ ability to take marketshare from their rivals, he notes.
Plimsoll sees strong companies recording profit margins averaging 5.3% “as they have cut costs and used competitive buying to increase their bottom line”.
Pattison is concerned about the 212 firms rated as Caution and Danger, saying their futures look extremely uncertain. “Their management are now operating under severe financial pressure where even normal trading is proving hazardous. Many of these firms seem likely to be sold off; they are at an extremely high risk of failure unless they turn their performance around fast.”
|Toyota Industrial cuts headcount |
Columbus, IN, United States
|Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing Inc (TIEM) has reduced the headcount at its factory near Columbus in response to the downturn in the economy.|
The subsidiary of Toyota Industries Corp says it reduced its Indiana work force by about 15%, involving about 120 positions, although specific numbers were not disclosed. Early retirements, voluntary departures and performance-based cuts accounted for the bulk of the reductions.
Tim Barker, corporate services senior manager, commented on the current market, saying: “The economic downturn has had a significant impact on all segments of the economy that are served by the material handling industry, resulting in a 49.3% decline in the lift truck market, according to the Industrial Truck Association” of Washington, DC.
TIEM is providing financial assistance to “all associates” who were impacted, Barker notes.
TIEM imposed seven non-production days on the work force during March and April.
Toyota Industries of Kariya, Japan established TIEM in October 1988, and operations at the plant began in May 1990. Structures occupy 873,000 square feet (78,570 sqm) on a 101-acre site.
|Closure epitomises UK forklift decline |
London, United Kingdom
|Analysis by Bill Redmond|
After 60 years of forklift production at Basingstoke, Linde’s announcement to close its plant there next year marks the end of high volume forklift production in Britain. Job losses of 350 will follow but some 200 will remain in Basingstoke to cover sales and marketing, after-sales and administration. Production will be transferred to larger plants in mainland Europe over the next 12 months.
Linde’s other remaining production plant at Merthyr Tydfil, which produces heavy duty trucks like container handlers, remains unaffected.
In a press release, KION, owner of Linde Material Handling, blames the global recession, marked by a 50% market downturn in the early months of this year, but is that the whole story?
The closure of the plant comes as no surprise to those who have watched the remorseless decline in UK truck makers’ fortunes over the last 30 years. Long rumoured for closure, there were times when the Basingstoke plant worked at well below full capacity following its huge investment in new plant back in 1990.
Linde is right to say that “the high fragmentation of production in relatively small plants necessitates a concentration on major sites” to generate economies of scale but the current severe downturn is, perhaps, only one reason for the plant closure. The fact is, as explained in Forkliftaction.com News #388, Linde MH has struggled in the UK market over the last eight years, in common with many competitors, racking up accumulated pre-tax losses of over GBP22million (USD35 million), plagued by cost pressures and competitor activity. But it did not help itself by paying salaries substantially higher than the industry average.
A source within the industry also revealed problems surrounding Linde’s formation of its contract management department which proved highly costly. It is also clear that the company chased sales growth at the expense of margins.
Against these problems, it cannot have escaped the directors’ notice that the expansive Basingstoke site, if still owned by KION, would be worth many millions of pounds for housing development, even in the currently depressed property market.
The end of high-volume forklift production in Britain follows a long litany of failed British truck producers. Great names like Boss, Coventry Climax, Montgomerie Reid, Hamech and Bonser have all joined the ash heap of history, unable to compete in an oversupplied industry facing intensifying competition from abroad where larger, better-financed plants were more efficient.
But is that the whole story of the decline? One insider of a successful British truck maker put another interesting slant on the problem. “Lansing (as it was called before its Linde purchase in 1989) was part of that ‘can do’ attitude. They invented turret trucks, reach trucks and C Clamp turrets that were many times faster than today’s format. It seems to me that the blandness of European bells and whistle ‘improvements’ has won the day over pure ‘madcap inventiveness’ like the Hunslet Lizard, man-up and articulated trucks.”
Excluding Linde’s Merthyr Tydfil plant, there remain only a few British manufacturers of niche market trucks, like the Bendi, Flexi and Sidetracker. This could be bad news for UK buyers if the Euro strengthens substantially against Sterling because most forklifts sold in Britain today come from Euro countries. Linde’s closure will leave buyers nursing much higher bills if exchange rates go against them because they now have little choice.
|Forklift Drivers Alert – Maryland and region USA — first Annual 2009 Chesapeake Forklift Safety Rodeo.|
|The date for competitor registration is extended - closing shortly!!!|
Professional forklift operators and company teams from across the mid-Atlantic region are invited to demonstrate their skills at the Howard County Fairgrounds, July 18, from 7am-5pm.
Forklifts are provided by Atlantic Lift and are sit-down counterbalanced CAT lift trucks.
Proceeds to benefit WAY STATION, the U.S. Veterans Re-entry Into The Workforce Program. Register online at: www.atlanticlift.com or call 410.644.7777 for more information.
Co-sponsored by the Chesapeake Region Safety Council; Atlantic Lift Truck; Pepsi Bottling Group and Forkliftaction.com
|Hiab partners with Molok |
|Cargotec’s Hiab specialist division has entered into a sales partnership with Molok Ltd, a leading provider of waste collection systems. |
Hiab is now the exclusive sales partner of Molok’s deep collection systems in the Asia Pacific market.
Molok’s deep collection systems form a central part of Hiab’s environmental solutions offering for the entire logistics chain for handling waste streams, from consulting and designing the solution all the way to providing and maintaining the customer’s solution.
The new agreement expands the firms’ existing co-operation in the Asia Pacific region.
“Molok is the global leader in providing deep collection systems for waste handling,” says Jukka Loikala, global director of Hiab’s Environmental Solutions. “The company has a long and extensive international experience of presence in over 30 countries.”
He adds that Molok’s high level and high quality deep collection containers complement Hiab’s offering with products that can minimise environmental hazards, such as contamination of ground waters, odours and fauna.
Hiab and Molok have implemented several significant projects in the Asia Pacific, such as the waste handling system for the Beijing Olympics Park in 2008. Additionally, in the Chinese city of Nanjing, Hiab and Molok carried out an innovative pilot project, which combined the Chinese model for waste collection and the most modern waste handling technology into an innovative waste collection system. The system, utilising Molok’s deep collection containers, waste compactors and waste handling vehicles, lowered the environmental load of waste streams and attained 30–50% savings in waste handling costs.
|Nichiyu releases environmental report |
|Japanese electric forklift giant Nichiyu has released its latest environmental report which boasts a number of environmental successes.|
Unveiling the report, Nichiyu president Toshihiko Uratsuji notes the attainment of ISO 14001 as one of the achievements.
“Building on our dedication to a healthy environment, we have taken additional steps to reduce our environmental impact by acquiring certification of registration with ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management systems,” he says. “As part of this effort, we have formulated and implemented an environmental improvement plan whose progress we continue to monitor.”
The latest environmental report summarises the company’s environmental initiatives for fiscal 2007 with an emphasis on the details of these initiatives.
“The report also highlights our success in implementing the three-year plan we initiated in fiscal 2005 and the environmental mitigation measures we adopted for the new plant facility we have constructed on the site of our existing Shiga Plant,” says Uratsuji.
The report cites the completion of the Shiga plant as a highlight. “At the planning stage, we considered the diverse needs of the plant employees, local residents, and the global environment.
“We introduced a highly efficient and eco-friendly turbo refrigeration unit to provide spot airconditioning across the 10,000 square meters of our vast operations area in our new plant in
Shiga,” he says, adding that the adoption of this innovative unit is expected to reduce annual CO2 emissions by one third compared to a conventional gas-absorption refrigeration unit.
The plant, which adjoins a residential district, is also designed with noise pollution in mind. To limit noise, the plant’s outer wall is clad in a highly effective soundproofing material. “The plant was designed with consideration for the residential environment by locating the intake fans on the residential side and the exhaust fans on the plant side,” according to the report.
The company’s environmental commitment is also manifest in its product offerings. “Demand for electric forklifts in the domestic market has been growing rapidly in recent years, particularly in light of the increasing public awareness of environmental issues,” says Uratsuji. “As a pioneer in the development of electric forklifts, Nichiyu remains committed to developing a broad array of innovative products offering a combination of high performance, energy efficiency, and low environmental impact.”
|Volkswagen uses electric forklifts in warehouse|
Jacksonville, FL, United States
|Volkswagen Group of America Inc is using electric forklifts in a Jacksonville parts distribution warehouse that was recognised with a grand opening ceremony on 18 June.|
Volkswagen says the electric forklifts use 26% less energy than predecessor equipment in another Jacksonville warehouse that is being phased out.
The new location is 30% larger and represents a USD30 million investment. The warehouse employs 40, stocks about 50,000 unique parts with a value of approximately USD18 million and provides those parts as needed to 115 Volkswagen and Audi dealerships in six south east states and the US territory of Puerto Rico.
Volkswagen Group of America of Herndon, Virginia is a division of publicly traded Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft of Wolfsburg, Germany.
|Nestlé Waters to get vehicle management systems |
Hackensack, NJ, United States
|Nacco Materials Handling Group Inc (NMHG) has ordered PowerFleet-brand wireless vehicle management systems (VMS) from ID Systems Inc for deployment on forklifts at two sites of Nestlé Waters North America.|
Nestlé Waters is considering eventual use of the ID Systems vehicle asset communicators on forklifts at more than 100 sites globally, including 24 locations in the US and Canada.
Forklift dealership Yale/Chase Materials Handling Inc in City of Industry, California facilitated the order from NMHG, which designs, manufactures and sells forklifts under the Yale and Hyster brands. NMHG of Fairview, Oregon and publicly traded ID Systems of Hackensack, New Jersey are strategic marketing partners.
“Nestlé has a culture of innovation and initiative, and Nestlé Waters continuously seeks new ways to improve our supply chain operations,” says Chris Lyon of national fleet services group for Greenwich, Connecticut-based Nestlé Waters North America, a subsidiary of food giant Nestlé SA. “Wireless vehicle management for industrial trucks is a technology that we intend to further explore in our enterprise to maximise the safety, efficiency and productivity of our material handling activities.”
Nestlé Waters North America, a leading US bottled water company, employs more than 8,000 and produces under the Poland Spring Natural Spring Water, Nestlé Pure Life and S. Pellegrino brands.
Wireless VMS technology can help improve supply chain productivity, establish accountability for the use of equipment, reduce fleet maintenance costs and improve workplace safety and security. A wireless VMS can automatically upload vehicle data, report vehicle problems electronically, schedule maintenance according to actual vehicle usage rather than by calendar or manual data entry and help determine the optimal economic time to replace equipment.
“By deploying a system like PowerFleet to reduce costs and streamline operations, organizations like Nestlé Waters North America can gain a competitive edge in their supply chains, which we think is especially important in the current economic environment,” says Peter Fausel, ID Systems’ executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service.
NMHG is a core business of publicly traded Nacco Industries Inc of Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
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|Germany gets hydrogen filling station |
|Fuel company OMV has opened its first publicly accessible hydrogen filling station at its service station at Stuttgart Airport. |
The result of a collaboration with Linde AG and Daimler AG and subsidised by the state of Baden-Württemberg, the project is centred on the use of hydrogen as an environmentally friendly energy carrier. Hydrogen filling stations represent an important step toward reducing dependence on fossil fuels in the long term and are a step closer to emission-free sustainable mobility.
The innovative hydrogen filling station will serve fuel cell vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL which goes into production later this year in Germany.
Linde’s involvement stems from its expertise throughout the hydrogen value-creation chain - from hydrogen production to filling technology. Besides forklifts, Linde is a pre-eminent outfitter of hydrogen filling stations and distributes filling technology in 15 countries.
"As the pioneer of hydrogen technology, we have a particular responsibility to press ahead toward hydrogen-based sustainable mobility," says Linde AG director Dr Aldo Bellon. "Establishing the infrastructure for this future-oriented energy carrier calls for a concerted effort among the partners involved. We are delighted to have realised a filling-station concept of the latest generation together with OMV."
|Premiere of CeMAT Russia |
|Event organiser Deutsche Messe has expanded its CeMAT exhibition schedule with the addition of CeMAT Russia. The first Moscow event has been scheduled for September 28 to October 1, 2010 at the All-Russian Exhibition Centre.|
The event is a joint project with ITE Group Plc, a UK-based trade fair company with offices in 11 countries. Every year, ITE stages 50 exhibitions and conferences in Russia alone.
CeMAT RUSSIA will span all aspects of intralogistics, including materials handling and storage technology, packaging and order picking systems, materials flow solutions, warehousing systems and workshop equipment, packaging systems, transport systems, software, logistics services and outsourcing.
An event spokesman points out that the Russian market for intralogistics products has enjoyed strong growth in recent years. The country’s total warehousing and logistics centre floor space grew by two million square meters (21.5 million sqft) in 2008 alone. This has been a boon to Germany’s intralogistics providers, who last year grew their export sales to Russia by 52.4% for a total volume of EUR745 million (USD1.048 billion).
CeMAT Russia will run concurrently with and at the same venue as MDA Russia, Surface Russia and Industrial Automation Russia under the parent brand “Industrial Trade Fair Moscow”. This clustering arrangement will allow the four industrial tradeshows to feed into each other, generating cross-industry synergies and business. International exhibitors will benefit from this latest international rollout of Deutsche Messe’s trade fair formula.
|Effort with forklift mast fails, crane operator killed|
Palm Harbor, FL, United States
Apparent insecure tension in elevating a forklift mast caused a crane to topple at Home Port Marina and eject the operator who suffered fatal head injuries.
The Pinellas County sheriff’s office says independent crane contractor Ivan Hubbert was removing the forklift mast for a repair project.
Officials indicate that less than sufficient tension probably resulted in the mast shifting and the crane flipping on its side onto two boats.
Hubbert landed on the pavement, experienced severe head trauma and was dead at the scene, according to paramedics responding to the 15 June emergency. The marina hired Hubbert, 71, of Tarpon Springs, Florida to perform the work.
The marina in Palm Harbor provides storage in covered or uncovered wet slips and high or low dry bays.
The sheriff’s office is continuing its investigation of the incident.
Terex president to address Europlatform conference
Des Plaines, IL, United States
Tim Ford, president of Terex Aerial Work Platforms, will deliver the keynote address at the Europlatform access rental conference on 15 September 2009 at the Atahotel Expo Fiera in Milan, Italy. The conference will take the theme of “Access Rentals: Ready for the Rebound?”
The one-day conference is dedicated to access rental management issues and is targeted at senior management. It is jointly organised by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and its official magazine Access International.
The conference will be held in English, with simultaneous translation in Italian and more information can be found at www.europlatform.info.
|Clark buys Townsville operation |
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
|Forklift manufacturer and distributor Clark Equipment has bought the Townsville operations of Lift & Shift Machinery Sales, which will begin trading as a branch of Clark Equipment this week.|
According to managing director Robert Hammond, the Townsville region is one of the fastest growing in Australia.
"We see Townsville as a great place to invest. Townsville is the administrative hub of North Queensland, home to numerous Commonwealth and State Government departments. It is the site of large army and air force bases, the largest contingent of defence personnel in Australia; an internationally recognised university; and a major port facility and service centre for mining and the agricultural industries of the hinterland."
The Cairns operation of Lift & Shift is not affected by the takeover and will continue operations in the region.
|Task secures major contract for newest forklift |
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
|Task Forklifts has secured a major export contract to supply a US supermarket chain with its newest product, a heavy-duty counterbalanced pedestrian electric forklift with power steering.|
The Cobra was developed in 2008 (Forkliftaction.com News #368), and has been showcased at various events throughout Australia, most recently at the Queensland Safety and Material Handling Show held last week.
Chief executive officer Ben Rainsford tells Forkliftaction.com News that the company began manufacturing the product three months ago and has been shipping an average of 12 forklifts a month to the US.
The US supermarket chain finds the product well suited for its staff, as the power steering results in easy manoeuvrability, even with a full payload.
“And being legless, it’s ideal for narrow-aisle work,” adds Rainsford.
With in excess of 400 stores in the US, the contract is expected to be the start of an ongoing relationship.
Besides the US contract, the company has had a number of orders from within Australia for the product, including a recent order six weeks ago from an aluminium business.
Commenting on the government’s capital investment incentive scheme, Rainsford says the company has seen some clients accelerate their purchasing decisions, but many more have chosen not to invest in new equipment, and instead are looking at rental fleets.
|Private companies weather global storm |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Private companies are weathering the effects of the global financial crisis remarkably well, according to a survey released by KPMG this week.|
The company’s annual Private Companies Survey reported that mid-sized Australian businesses felt that they had not overstretched, had adequate access to credit but believed their greatest risk was a fall in consumer confidence in the short term and a skills shortage in the future.
“We may well be in the biggest downturn since the Great Depression, but the responses show otherwise, for the moment anyway,” says Don Abell, partner in KPMG’s middle market advisory practice. “Private companies are not experiencing a credit-led recession: instead, it is consumer sentiment steering their fortunes at the moment.”
Well over half (62%) of respondents said availability and cost of credit is having little or no impact on their activities.
“The results suggest that many private companies entered the downturn with lower geared balance sheets compared to public companies,” says Abell.
Some 42% of respondents had cancelled major projects or business expansion plans compared to 15% in 2008 with the remainder (57%) putting plans on hold.
The issues of employment were high on the radar this year with questions on headcount introduced to the survey for the first time and over half of respondents reported a reduction in employee headcount over the previous six months as a direct result of the economic climate.
According to Abell, results confirmed a trend in the importance that private companies place on attracting suitably qualified employees. Private companies are taking concerted action to avoid headcount reduction, using a range of mechanisms to retain good staff.
“Interesting to note that despite the downturn, a third of all respondents are still struggling to find appropriately skilled labour. This shows that even in the worst of times, the need for skilled people remains,” he says.
• 26% believe the economy has already hit the bottom of its downward cycle, as compared to less than 5% in 2008;
• 62% believe the cost of finance has little or no impact on their business;
• 42% had cancelled major projects or business expansion plans compared to 15% in 2008;
• 90% claimed they were either well or moderately well prepared to respond to market changes;
• 52% of respondents reported a reduction in employee headcount over the previous six months.
|New era in OHS|
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|The newly formed Safe Work Australia Council held its inaugural meeting in Sydney in June.|
The council is an inclusive, tripartite body comprised of 15 members, including an independent Chair, nine members representing the commonwealth and each state and territory, two representing the interests of workers, two representing the interests of employers and the group manager of Safe Work Australia.
Its main aim is to harmonise occupational health and safety (OHS) laws and improve workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia.
“I am confident that the council, through its partnership of governments, employers and employees, can work together to achieve improved health and safety outcomes for all Australians,” says chairman Tom Phillips.
The meeting focused on the development of model OHS legislation with the Council noting the proposed structure and content of the model OHS Act as agreed by the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC).
Safe Work Australia Week will take place from 25 - 31 October 2009.
The next council meeting will be held on 1 September 2009.
|Conference celebrates 10-year anniversary|
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
The Queensland Supply Chain & Logistics Conference celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2009. Themed “How far have we really come: A decade in review”, the 10th annual conference is expected to attract over 400 delegates, and runs from 27-28 August in Brisbane.
|New capacity needed at Sydney |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|The Sydney Airport 2009 Master Plan, approved last week by Minister Anthony Albanese, outlines in its long-term forecasts the need for new airport capacity.|
The plan proposes to increase the proportion of the site used for aviation activities from 86% to 91%; improve the taxiway system; expand freight handling facilities; and provide more gates at both the domestic and international terminals.
Sydney Airport handles around a third of Australia’s air traffic, generating some AUD8 billion in annual economic activity, and supporting more than 200,000 jobs.
According to Albanese, the government is committed to maintaining the existing cap on movements as well as the curfew. Noise-sharing arrangements will continue.
“My approval of the Master Plan does not, however, indicate acceptance that the airport can and should handle the projected growth in traffic, with the annual number of aircraft flying into and out of Sydney expected to rise to 427,000 by 2029.
“As the airport gets busier, the supporting road and rail infrastructure will become more congested, delays more frequent and nearby residents exposed to even longer periods of aircraft noise,” says Albanese.
He announced that he has invited the NSW government to participate in a joint study to assess options, identify potential sites and evaluate investment strategies for delivering additional airport capacity.
The joint study will also look at ways of providing integrated transport solutions for the existing airport as well as any second airport. It will also consider the future of the Badgerys Creek site given the government has ruled it out as an option for a second airport.
The study's final terms of reference will be outlined in the National Aviation White Paper expected to be released later this year.
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