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|Our US bureau chief, Roger Renstrom, has left for a two-month expedition which will take him to places most of us can only dream of. And while he’s away, a very capable substitute, Tom Andel, steps in to cover the North American beat for the next few weeks. Tom has been covering materials handling, transportation, distribution, manufacturing and supply chain management for 29 years. He is currently a columnist and blogger on forklifts for Modern Materials Handling and a contributor to Logistics Management. And as you can see from his first story, he has hit the road running.|
|Industry cautiously optimistic |
|By Tom Andel, contributing editor|
Just asking “Are you optimistic or pessimistic about your business in 2010?” is risky. Most smart business people would answer “cautiously optimistic”. That way they’re covered either way. In fact, most forklift OEMs and dealers did answer that way when Forkliftaction.com News popped the question. However, they didn’t stop there.
Many of the respondents, being members of the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association and/or the Industrial Truck Association, are passionate enough about how politics and the economy are affecting business that they want their customers to know they intend to be among the survivors. They’re doing what’s necessary to help their customers survive too.
“Companies are running lean and will need replacement products and outsourced services that allow them to remain lean,” says Duncan Murphy, president of Riekes Equipment Company. “There are also great buys on facilities right now and, if monitored, provide opportunities as they are outfitted to meet new uses for them.”
Tim Hilton, CEO of Carolina Handling, LLC, an authorised Raymond dealer, adds that while there are sure signs of improvement, he doesn’t expect equipment orders to increase much—maybe 5-10%. On the plus side of that, equipment in the field will see greater utilisation.
“This will result in increased parts and service business,” he predicts. “We also expect to see rental activity increase at a greater pace as is always the case in a rebounding market. And I don’t think we are much different from others in the industry; we are leaner and should benefit from the rebound as a result if we are staffed properly.”
Those are examples of strategies within a business’s power to execute. However, what happens when forces with even more power have their way? Some of our respondents let their pessimism show when politics entered the discussion.
“I think 2010 has a chance to improve over 2009, but it also has a chance to be as bad or even worse,” says Mark M. Milovich, president of Lift Atlanta, Inc. “It depends on what Washington does going into next year. The passing of health care reform, if not done the right way, will have devastating effects on the economy and small to mid-size businesses. Full passage of the Cap and Trade legislation would further hamper any economic recovery. Add the fear of inflation and the devaluing of the dollar and the outlook does not bode well for a strong 2010.”
Milovich adds that companies like his need to see the housing market improve. The building materials supply industry represents a good chunk of business to materials handling dealers. With that business falling off, dealers will be trying to diversify their product lines and service offerings going into 2010. Not all will be successful.
“I feel market volumes will remain the same, and that will not allow all to survive,” says Kenneth M. MacDonald, president of M&G Materials Handling Co. in East Providence, RI. “Defaults and consolidation should provide opportunities for those that are fiscally strong, and are aligned with premium manufacturers for their products, but I think the distribution channels have many who are underwater. The question is how long can they hold their breath?”
John Faulkner, president of FMH Material Handling Solutions, Inc., doesn’t think they can do it for very long. Credit issues are too daunting for most.
“We have not seen any true rebound in the Rockies or in the LA market,” he continues. “I do not think this is over for at least another 14 to 18 months.”
Jerry Weidmann, president of Wisconsin Lift Truck, thinks it will be more like three to five years before materials handling businesses recover, although he adds the economy will bottom out this quarter.
James Malvaso, president and CEO of the Raymond Corporation, adds even a few more years, but puts the whole situation in perspective: “A market that has gone down by more than 50% has to double to get back to even,” he says. “That could take seven to 10 years, assuming aggressive growth rates. The big issue is what will the industry do in light of this reduced demand and the current available capacity?”
- Next week, we’ll explore what end-users are doing to survive this economy. Our field of experts will discuss some of the best practices they’re seeing customers implement to improve efficiency and productivity.
|Plant closure impacts 85 employees |
|About 85 workers will be affected when Konecranes shuts its crane plant in Ettlingen, Germany, next year.|
Company spokesman Mikael Wegmüller tells Forkliftaction.com News that the decision was based on the “production volumes and activities” in the 24,000sqm (258,334sqft) facility.
“The annual production of [the plant] represents 15% of all Konecranes’ industrial cranes,” Wegmüller says.
The closure, expected to save EUR100 million (USD147.3 million) in 2010, impacts employees in crane production and assembly, component production and plant administration.
Whether all the affected workers will lose their jobs is uncertain, Wegmüller says.
“This is subject to [the] outcome of the negotiations with the union. There might be some jobs which will be relocated [to] elsewhere in [the] Konecranes organisation,” he explains.
The plant is scheduled for closure by 31 March 2010 and is a part of Konecranes’ previously announced plan to restructure the organisation and cut costs as demand for its products decline.
Restructuring costs are estimated to be between EUR15 million and EUR20 million (USD22.1 million - USD29.5 million).
Manufacturing at the company’s other German plants in Künzelsau and Liebengrün will continue.
Wegmüller says decisions on any further restructuring will be based on the development of the group’s strategy and business activities in the crane market.
“We’re actively re-evaluating our plans based on actual and forecasted business development and market demand,” he says.
Group sales for Konecranes totaled EUR2.103 billion (USD3.097 billion) in 2008. The group employs 9,700 people in 485 locations in 43 countries.
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|Barloworld experiences rising demand |
Maidenhead, United Kingdom
|Barloworld Handling is offering free delivery on certain models of large capacity forklifts as demand for them grows in the UK.|
Barloworld spokesman Mark Ward says businesses today are looking to reduce risk through hiring high-value equipment short-term.
Large capacity forklifts are typically machines built to order, and their higher investment costs mean they have a longer working life than smaller-capacity forklifts. According to Barloworld, a large capacity forklift is a machine that provides over 8 tonnes lift capacity.
Barloworld has increased its stock of large capacity short-term hire trucks to meet demand in ports and terminals, and manufacturing and heavy industries.
“Some businesses are forced to buy high capacity forklifts even though their requirements may be seasonal or fluctuate,” Ward explains.
“We have deployed high capacity trucks to our regional hire centres to suit the needs of local industries.
“Next-day delivery is available in most cases and we have trucks up to 18 tonnes,” he adds.
This is not the first time Barloworld has promoted its hire fleets with special offers. The current offer involves free delivery on short-term hires of more than four weeks for modern Hyster forklifts with capacity between 8 and16 tonnes.
“Short-term hire is, of course, more expensive than a long-term contract, but by making modern, specialist equipment available, it has become a realistic option for businesses managing peak periods, and helps to reduce risk,” Ward says.
He adds that big trucks are often unavailable or available in poor condition. Barloworld boasts trucks that are LOLER-certified and maintained by a team of local technicians who can provide quick response during breakdowns.
Barloworld has about 2,000 forklifts in its UK rental fleet ranging from electric warehouse equipment and diesel/LPG forklifts to specialist equipment like high-level order pickers and ATEX-compliant, Pyroban-protected equipment.
|Jamco and Mobile form alliance|
Carlisle, PA, United States
|Jamco, a North American provider of chargers, forged forks and used forklifts, will be a preferred distributor of Mobile and ECO branded product lines. Mobile features a Class III line of pallet trucks and stackers. Jamco will focus on the self-propelled product lines, while Mobile will focus on distributing Jamco’s extensive lines.|
“Combining our efforts provides an expanded product base for both companies,” says Steve Guagliano, president of Mobile. “More importantly, it enables our customers, both retail and wholesale, to reap the benefits of combined buying power and consolidated pricing.”
|The Coffee Club Seeks Your Vote! |
|We all like a cup of coffee to start our day...|
At The Coffee Club you can go in the draw to win a $20,000 kitchen by voting for Forkliftaction's Marketing Coordinator - TRICIA MUNN.
Forkliftaction would like to congratulate Tricia's children for their gorgeous singing and making it into the finals with their nomination for their mum in Coffee Club’s “Australia’s Favourite Soccer Mum” competition.
TRICIA MUNN is now one of 6 finalists in the running to win a Hyundai Santa Fe CRDi AWD SLX. Tricia is a single mum who strives to give her children the very best. She is a committed soccer mum and runs all 3 children around to training and the games and STILL finds time to coach Harrison's team!
To help the Munn family win the car please vote for TRICIA MUNN at: http://www.australiasfavouritesoccermum.com.au/VoteNow.html
YOU can vote once per day until early December and each vote is an entry in the voters draw to win a $20,000 kitchen.
*Please make sure you are in the voting box for Tricia as it is a one step voting system.
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|Association releases list of worst areas for accidents|
Alton, United Kingdom
|Birmingham is the UK city with the most forklift incidents, according to the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA).|
The FLTA revealed the findings, based on Health Safety Executive statistics between 2001 and 2008, during its National Forklift Safety Week last month.
The Yorkshire and West Midlands areas are a particular concern, says the FLTA, as they account for the top seven danger zones in the association’s list of accident black-spots.
The South of England is also included in the list, with Milton Keynes coming in at eighth. It had 150 serious forklift incidents over the past seven years, closely followed by Northampton and Thurrock in Essex.
The FLTA says statistics also show that the rate of serious forklift-related injuries among men was up to five times higher than for women. This takes into account the uneven split between males and females working in the vicinity of forklifts.
Workers over 45 and heavy goods vehicle drivers waiting for their lorries to be loaded and unloaded have the highest fatality rates.
FLTA CEO David Ellison says over 400 people are hospitalised as a result of forklift incidents annually.
“These are major, life-shattering injuries like crushings and amputations. Last year, 10 people were killed, and with forklifts working on about 100,000 UK sites, literally anyone could be at risk,” Ellison says.
He adds that most forklift incidents are avoidable and that the victim is usually not the truck’s operator.
The 10 Worst Areas for Forklift Incidents in the UK
- Birmingham, West Midlands
- Wakefield, Yorkshire
- Leeds, Yorkshire
- Doncaster, Yorkshire
- Sandwell, West Midlands
- Bradford, Yorkshire
- Walsall, West Midlands
- Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
- Northampton, Northamptonshire
- Thurrock, Essex
|Jungheinrich finishes company’s ambitious project |
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
|Jungheinrich has just completed one of its biggest automated materials handling projects for German fastener, screw and machine tool wholesaler Keller & Kalmbach GmbH.|
Keller & Kalmbach’s new distribution centre, located near Nuremberg, includes a pallet racking warehouse with 35,000 storage locations, an automated small parts warehouse with storage for 164,000 boxes, an automated small parts warehouse for 8,000 trays, and an order picking area designed to cope with a fast throughput of orders.
Jungheinrich set up all stations to support order picking from pallets as well as from boxes and trays. A Jungheinrich warehouse management system manages all of the storage areas.
Stefan Seemüller from Jungheinrich Germany’s Automatic Systems says the system enables Keller & Kalmbach to deploy its staff in “the most efficient way possible”.
Ingomar Schubert, head of Supply Chain Management at Keller & Kalmbach, adds that the project is “the most ambitious construction project in [the] company’s history”. It was implemented in less than 18 months from when the contract was awarded.
“Being able to stick to the time plan for a project of this size is critical to the customer,” says Seemüller.
Steve Richmond, general manager of Jungheinrich UK’s Systems & Projects Division, says the company operates an international network of systems and projects divisions focusing on tailored solutions, from manual warehousing systems to fully automated warehousing systems.
|WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING!|
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|Forklifts enlisted to arm Navy frigates |
Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
|The Royal Navy is relying on specially modified forklifts to resupply its warships with Seawolf missiles vital to their defence. Stanley Handling Ltd in Coldharbour Lane was contracted to supply these “canister rotation units” to load type-23 frigates. |
The forklifts are said to load the missiles in their sealed, self-contained and ready to fire launch canisters more quickly and safely than before, and are expected to significantly reduce ammunition re-supply times for Britain’s frigates.
The Seawolfs, supplied to the Royal Navy by manufacturer MBDA, were used to destroy attacking aircraft in the Falklands War.
|Spreader tips containers |
|Elme has developed a spreader that can tip shipping containers to empty them.|
The spreader comes in two models – the telescopic model 817 that handles 20-foot and 40-foot containers, and the 327 model that handles only 20-foot containers, with a lift capacity up to 45 tonnes.
Besides its normal function of lifting and moving full containers around, the spreader incorporates a tipping mechanism.
It is suitable for any bulk materials which flow, including minerals, bales of waste, grain, fertilisers and coffee beans.
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|Hyster introduces intermediate pallet truck |
Hampshire, United Kingdom
|Hyster’s new low duty P1.3 is designed to bridge the gap between hand pallet trucks and powered pallet trucks. It runs off two 12V batteries and plugs directly into a standard electric socket to re-charge.|
Its battery capacity allows the P1.3 to work for up to two hours. The P1.3 also shares many of the characteristics of the P1.6, including a durable frame with integrated welded forks and a reinforced bumper section. Heavy-duty, tandem load wheels provide load stability over uneven surfaces and include anti-roll back.
The P1.3 is manoeuvred in tight spaces by the same tiller head design featured on the premium Hyster pallet truck range. The MOSFET high frequency Combi controller controls traction and hydraulics, allowing progressive speed control and energy efficiency. Other features include regenerative braking, hourmeter and battery discharge indicator (option), and creep speed.
The P1.3 is offered with extended service intervals (12 months or 1,000 hours) and various options including load backrest, a variety of fork sizes, lateral protection plates and extended warranty of 36 months or 3,000 hours.
|Pallet producer receives first Nexen X-Range forklift |
Lowestoft, United Kingdom
|HLC (Wood Products) Ltd of Harleston in Norfolk has received its FGX25 Nexen forklift order, the first of the Nexen X-Range forklifts to be delivered since their launch onto the UK market (Forkliftaction.com News #427)|
Waveney Forktrucks of Lowestoft was the dealer that delivered the 2.5 tonne forklift, fitted with a Nissan 33kW LPG engine and 4.8 metre (14.1 foot) triple mast with integral side-shift, to the family-owned business.
The new forklift has been assigned to handle the supply of wood to a brand new production line in which HLC has invested over GBP1 million (USD1.6 million).
HLC, which manufactures pallets and boxes, has a production capacity of 75,000 pallets a week.
It relies on its fleet of 16 forklifts - from 1.5 to 5 tonne capacitiy - to handle timber for its products. When an additional forklift was needed, HLC turned to Waveney Forktrucks, with which it has had a 20-year working relationship.
HLC’s commercial manager Paul Lewis says the company operates “a very busy site”, with the forklifts operating 80 hours a week over two shifts.
“Reliability is a key factor in order to meet our production deadlines,” Lewis explains.
|Movers & Shakers |
|Council Bluffs, IA, United States|
Mark Whaley has been appointed executive vice president of Omaha Standard Inc. Whaley will be responsible for sales and marketing, engineering, product management, quality, scheduling, purchasing and support services. He joined Omaha Standard-Palfinger in 2008 as vice president of marketing and sales.
Niagara Falls, ON, Canada
Jon Williams has been appointed Western sales manager for Palfinger knuckle boom cranes for Western United States. Williams is responsible for all the US states west of the Mississippi River, excluding Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. He has over 25 years’ experience in truck-mounted equipment.
Konecranes Group has appointed Miikka Kinnunen as director of investor relations from 1 December. Kinnunen replaces Sanna Päiväniemi who is leaving Konecranes to join another company.
Since 2001, Kinnunen worked in Carnegie Investment Bank AB as a financial analyst and in other positions. He will report to Teo Ottola, CFO of Konecranes Group.
|Safe Work Month kicks off |
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
|October marks the beginning of Safe Work Month, with the focus on workplace injury prevention.|
An estimated 135,000 Australians are seriously injured each year, with more than 260 dying as a result of work-related injuries.
The latest figures (2005/6) put the total economic cost of work-related injuries and illnesses at about AUD57.5 billion, almost 6% of GDP.
Tom Phillips of the SafeWork SA Advisory Committee says this toll can be substantially reduced through the adoption of safer work practices and a cooperative effort in the workplace.
Safe Work Month involves 260 free workshops to be held from 4-30 October, with a week devoted to each of three South Australian regional districts (North East, North West and South East).
|Green jobs in T&L |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|The Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC) is conducting research in the area of environmental sustainability, aimed at identifying emerging green job roles or occupations and any additional skill requirements in the road transport and warehousing sectors.|
As part of its research, it is conducting an online survey and running small focus groups.
The survey results will be used to support the revision of existing national training and/or the development of new training to meet industry needs in the road transport, warehousing and related industry sectors.
Meanwhile, the council has established an online transport library at www.transportlibrary.com.au
The eLibrary contains hundreds of reports, news articles, presentations and other documents relating to the transport and logistics industry, skills, and vocational education and training. Access to the eLibrary is free for all registered users.
The library has a powerful search engine to search at word level of reports – even in pdf format. It is also possible for users to subscribe to alerts for their areas of interest, and they will receive an email whenever new reports are added that match.
To include any reports in the library or to find out more, contact Amanda Thomas, director, research and policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Komatsu demonstrates new hybrid |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Komatsu Forklift Australia is demonstrating its newest arrival in Australia, the battery electric hybrid forklift, which was introduced to the country last month (Forkliftaction.com News #427).|
Available in 1.5 tonne to 2.5 tonne capacity, the Komatsu Hybrid counterbalance forklift utilises two power sources - a motive power battery and a super-capacitor. The hybrid controller captures regenerative energy from kinetic energy normally lost when braking and changing direction and then stores this power in the capacitor. Power is released as needed to achieve peak performance levels.
Up to 80% of regenerative energy will be stored in the capacitor and reused, while conventional battery forklifts can utilise at most 2-3% of regenerative energy.
The combination of the newly developed Komatsu onboard inverter charger and a maintenance-free sealed battery enable quick charging that can recharge the battery to up to 80% capacity in just one hour.
The Komatsu Hybrid concept improves overall efficiency with low energy consumption, longer operating time, a maintenance-free battery, and reduction of CO2 emissions.
Other features include full AC system, airtight wet disc brakes, IPX4 standard water-resistant design and improved operator safety.
|Teen dies in forklift accident|
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
|A teenager died after he was trapped under a forklift in Brisbane's west in an industrial accident on Monday night.|
According to a report in the Courier Mail, the 18-year-old was operating a forklift at a food processing business in Riverview when he became trapped under the machine at about 11pm.
There were no witnesses to the incident, which is believed to have been a rollover.
Workplace Health and Safety officers are investigating.
Emergency services were called to the scene, but the teenager was already dead after he suffered extensive head, neck and chest injuries.
|NZ business confidence hits high note |
Auckland, New Zealand, New Zealand
|A survey by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) released this week reveals business confidence surging to its highest level in a decade.|
The October 2009 quarterly survey of business opinion (QSBO) provides strong evidence that the worst of the recession is over and that the economy is on the mend, with most firms expecting a significant acceleration in activity in the December quarter.
Despite increased confidence, firms remain cautious about hiring more staff or lifting investment, suggesting a shallow recovery is likely.
Declining activity and spare capacity in the economy have depressed prices, with a majority of firms reporting declining prices for three consecutive quarters.
While prices have fallen, costs have not eased as dramatically, meaning margins and profits have been squeezed. Declining sales volumes have further weighed on firms’ profits. A net 39% of firms reported declining profits in the September quarter, but the outlook is improving, with only a net 3% of firms expecting declining profits in the December quarter.
“We are interpreting the QSBO results as firms being cautiously optimistic,” says Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist at NZIER.
“Most indicators are headed in a positive direction, albeit from low levels in most cases. Firms can see the light at the end of the tunnel and are starting to think about the rebuilding and expansion of their operations, rather than focusing on further cutbacks.
“However, we shouldn’t get too carried away. Sales remain weak, and until firms see these picking up again, they are unlikely to take on many more staff or invest heavily. This suggests that the recovery from the recession will be shallow and gradual.”
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