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|Will this be the year of the fuel cell? There are increasing signs that the clean fuel technology is taking hold, but like any new technology, it requires critical mass. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation: buyers won’t try the technology until it’s widely available, but it won’t be widely available until it’s widely used. Hopefully, the trials and implementations reported this week will help get the ball rolling.|
|Crown puts muscle into fuel cell program |
New Bremen, OH, United States
|Crown Equipment Corp is describing its fuel cell qualification program for electric forklifts as “the first of its kind within the forklift industry”.|
“We want to keep this (subject) in front of our customers,” says Eric Jensen, Crown manager of new technology research and development. Crown wants to qualify its forklifts for fuel cell use, “and we want our customers to trial them”.
Crown began formulating the qualification program in 2007 in anticipation of a request for proposal from the fuel cell program of the technology-oriented Ohio Third Frontier Commission under the state’s department of development. For the fuel cell work with forklifts, state entities awarded grants to Crown for USD997,000 in March 2008 and a Crown-led consortium received USD1 million in April 2009 (Forkliftaction.com News #409). In each case, a provision requires recipients to invest “at least 50 cents on the dollar” in cost-sharing aspects, he notes.
Jensen says, “We have had a lot of experience in the last year and a half working with fuel cell vendors” including Oorja Protonics Inc of Fremont, California; Plug Power Inc of Latham, New York; Nuvera Fuel Cells Inc of Billerica, Massachusetts and Milan, Italy; and Hydrogenics Corp of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
In addition, Crown has worked with technologies from Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH of Puchheim, Germany; Infintium Energy Inc. of Carrollton, Texas; and Ballard Power Systems Inc of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
As part of its fuel cell effort, Crown established a project centre in a 25,000 sqft (2,250 sqm) building in Huber Heights, Ohio in 2008. The location is in close proximity to project collaborators including the Edison Materials Technology Centre, in Dayton, Ohio; NexTech Materials Ltd, of Lewis Centre, Ohio; a Sidney, Ohio site of Plug Power; and the TJ Smull College of Engineering at Ohio Northern University, in Ada, Ohio.
Crown engineers gauge performance metrics for a battery-powered truck such as traction, plugging, and lift and travel speeds. After replacing the battery with the fuel cell power pack, they measure the same indicators. Modeling and application testing enable the research team to determine changes to allow the fuel cell-powered forklift to match specifications for which the truck was initially designed.
With the qualification program, “Crown is taking on a responsibility for our customers’ use of machines for something” previously not conceived, Jensen notes. Crown forklifts in the past were “designed for lead-acid batteries. Fuel cells are different.”
Ballast weight is often an issue. A fuel cell installer may add some weight, but “sometimes the location is not in centre and may influence balance”, Jensen says.
Further, a typical fuel cell may supply sustained power that will make a forklift go too fast. “We have to take steps to prevent a truck from exceeding the designed speed,” he notes. “We do transient testing so voltage spikes do not cause confusion in the truck.”
The Crown program goes into action upon receiving a branch or dealer request for modification of a customer’s forklift.
“We review the official document internally so the machine will remain in compliance,” he says. “If Crown has previously tested the forklift-fuel cell combination, “we will issue an addition-to-capacity tag that it is okay to use this fuel cell in this truck.”
Crown tries to stay ahead of requests for forklift-fuel cell combinations yet to be tested. Branch or dealer technicians with input from New Bremen-based Crown have the competency to make the modifications.
|Toyota factory reduces workforce|
Columbus, IN, United States
|Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing Inc (TIEM) cut about 10% of the workforce at its plant near Columbus as a result of the economic downturn and lower demand.|
TIEM is providing financial assistance and job placement help for the impacted employees numbering about 70.
A reduction in June 2009 involved about 120 TIEM positions (Forkliftaction.com News #416) with early retirements, voluntary departures and performance-based actions accounting for most of the cuts. Earlier in 2009, TIEM imposed seven non-production days on the workers.
Toyota Industries Corp of Kariya, Japan established the new subsidiary, TIEM, as a business unit in October 1988.
Manufacturing in Indiana began in May 1990 and, as of November 2009, had produced 350,000 forklifts. Operations occupy about 870,000 sqft (78,300 sm) of manufacturing and support space and, after the recent layoffs, employ about 630 people.
|Study identifies bargain acquisitions in the UK|
Stockton, United Kingdom
|About one-eighth of the UK’s top forklift businesses are vulnerable to being snapped up as a “bargain acquisition”, according to a leading research company.|
David Pattison, senior analyst of Plimsoll Analysis, says that the recession has caused a “sea change” in the UK forklift industry and that 67 of the top 462 UK forklift companies are targets for cheap acquisitions.
“For companies with cash to spend, there is a pool of targets to choose from. With the market starting to recover, it’s better to spend some of that cash on a discount acquisition than have it sit in the bank,” Pattison explains.
His research found the recession has forced 165 companies into a loss-making position. As profitability has fallen, so have company valuations. One of the companies in the study has seen its value fall to 40% of its previous high.
“Despite the lock-down in the financial sector, corporate debts are still rising. Thirty-seven companies in the UK forklift industry now have debt levels which I would class as unmanageable,” Pattison says.
He adds that in his study, 276 company owners were past the retirement age.
“How many of these older owners have the appetite to rebuild their businesses battered by the last two years?” Pattison asks.
The study identifies 121 companies that it classifies as “cash rich” and able to finance takeovers.
“I was shocked at the level of cash in the market currently ... For any owner looking to sell their business, these are the guys they should be courting,” Pattison says.
Forkliftaction.com News readers are entitled to a GBP50 (USD78.53) discount from the new Plimsoll Industry Analysis- Fork Lift Trucks, which gives a performance rating on the top 462 companies in the UK. Call +44 01642 626 400 and quote reference PR/SD33.
|Paper recycler streamlines with telehandler and loader |
Erith, United Kingdom
|Waste paper shredding and recycling specialist Pulp Friction has taken delivery of a pair of Kramer machines to help streamline the weekly handling of about 2,500 tonnes of materials.|
Local dealer Hydrex supplied the 4507 telehandler and 880 wheeled loader to the Erith, Kent-based waste management company. Both units feature four-wheel steer and four-wheel drive systems, enabling them to work in the confined spaces at Pulp Friction’s recycling centres.
Pulp Friction operations director Ben Cox says the company likes using heavy-duty and reliable machines to minimise downtime at its busy sites.
“Besides its outstanding manoeuvrability, the driver of the 880 has superb all-round visibility which is extremely important where it is based because of the number of operatives we have hand-sorting material on the ground,” Cox adds.
The 4507 telehandler, available in all European markets, can place and push waste paper into tall stockpiles, saving Pulp Friction valuable space, and can also compress material into bulkers to ensure maximum capacity for transport.
“It does everything we need at a fraction of the cost of a conventional wheeled loader large enough to perform the same tasks,” Cox says.
The 880 is the largest wheeled loader in Kramer’s range. It is powered by a Deutz turbocharged and intercooled diesel engine. The 4507 telehandler is powered by a similar-sized engine and can lift 3,800kg (8,378lbs) to a maximum lift height of 7.1 metres (23.3 feet). It has a turning radius of about 3.6 metres (11.8 feet).
Kramer-Werke GmbH is a compact construction equipment manufacturer with operations in Leondig, Austria and Pfullendorf, Germany.
|Winter brings rise in forklift thefts |
Salem, MA, United States
|The National Equipment Register Inc (NER) has reported rises in forklift thefts each winter since 2007, particularly between the holidays. It notes that December in each of the three years was the worst.|
The ongoing thefts raise questions about industrial security and the process of tracking stolen machines.
Over the night of 1-2 February, a heavy duty forklift was stolen from the J Michael Ruane Judicial Center construction site in Salem. A gate chain was cut to gain access to the forklift, which has an estimated value of USD80,000. Dennis Gaudet, a detective with the Salem police department’s criminal investigation division, is overseeing the probe.
In late November, thieves stole six forklifts from a distribution warehouse of juice processor and distributor Clement Pappas & Co Inc in Upper Deerfield, New Jersey (Forkliftaction.com News #440).
“If owners have lost machines to theft, we encourage them to report the thefts to NER,” says David Grant Mossman, senior analyst with the firm. “We cannot look for machines we do not know are missing.”
NER says only about 5% of the forklifts are recovered.
As for where the equipment is going, “my gut reaction, based on the level of organisation in the thefts, is that the machines are either stolen to be sold or stolen for use in committing other crimes, particularly in support of the rising level of cargo theft,” Mossman says. “The thieves must need some way of moving pallets of stolen property around. This particularly points at the Class 4 and 5 machines and the rise in pallet jack thefts.”
Law enforcers suggest that companies install hidden wireless global positioning system (GPS) units in forklifts and keep up to date on the exact recorded serial and other numbers on each machine.
The winter-increase pattern was tracked during 2009 although Jersey City, New Jersey-based NER has not processed all of the year’s thefts yet. “The thefts slowed to very little through the summer with mostly rough terrain (straight mast and telescopic boom) forklifts being taken,” Mossman says. “The primary targeted machines in the winter were Class 4 and Class 5 cushion tyre lifts. There was a slight increase in pallet jack thefts in 2009 over 2008 with several thefts of multiple units.”
NER began developing databases of equipment ownership, theft reports and machine identification characteristics in 2001. Buyers of used equipment can request a search of the database through a fee-based IRONcheck service on the www.nerusa.com website.
|Hydrogen station to fuel forklifts begins operation|
Robins Air Force Base, GA, United States
|A hydrogen fueling station for a federal forklift demonstration project is now in operation at the Warner Robins defence distribution depot on the Robins base.|
Some alternative energy from a recently installed array of sun-following solar panels in another demonstration project will generate power to reform natural gas to supply the hydrogen fueling station.
In July 2008, non-profit technology developer Concurrent Technologies Corp (CTC) began the demonstration program to retrofit 20 military forklifts with hydrogen fuel cells (Forkliftaction.com News #371). The military will use the forklifts in a new 180,000 sqft (16,200 sqm) warehouse and will have the capability to use the fueling station for as many as 100 forklifts.
CTC of Johnstown, Pennsylvania teams with hydrogen supplier Air Products and Chemicals Inc of Allentown, Pennsylvania and fuel cell power developer Hydrogenics Corp of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada on the project for the Defence Logistics Agency (DLA), an organisation within the US Defence Department.
The natural gas reformer, hydrogen fueling station system and dispensing module are designed to produce up to 2,000 standard cubic feet per hour of 99.999% pure hydrogen at 125 pounds (56kg) per square inch gauge (psig). The storage capacity will be 330 pounds (150kg) of hydrogen at 7,000 psig.
|Linde (China) wins logistics awards |
|Linde (China)’s CEO has been named one of China’s top 10 logistics people for 2009.|
CP Quek, Linde (China)’s CEO, was credited for leading the company to become an “industry trendsetter”. Quek has also won the 2006 China Top Logistics People, 2008 Xiamen Top 10 Business People and Xiamen Honorary Citizenship awards.
About 100 people were shortlisted for the awards that have been held annually since 2005.
In the product category, Linde’s electric stand-on reach truck beat over 100 products to win a “ 2009 China Top 10 Products of Logistics Equipment Industry” award.
The awards, recognising outstanding performers in the logistics industry, were organised by China Logistics Technology Association and a Chinese logistics website.
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|Crisis response team obtains Nissan forklift |
Danville, VA, United States
|Non-profit crisis response team God’s Pit Crew of Danville has obtained a 2009 Nissan CF50 forklift in part through a USD20,000 grant from charitable organisations and the generosity of the CFE Equipment Corp dealership.|
“We took possession on January 4, once the grant was approved,” says Randy Johnson, founder and director of God’s Pit Crew.
“We had a couple of pretty old forklifts—a Clark and a Mitsubishi—that came to us as contributions,” he notes. “We experienced a tremendous number of breakdowns and spent money to keep them in operation.”
More than 300 volunteers in God’s Pit Crew pursue disaster relief in natural occurrences such as floods, tornados and hurricanes. The faith-based group was formed in 1999, has responded to 38 major disasters in 18 states and has delivered more than 5 million pounds (2.25 million kg) of supplies to devastated areas. Contributions of food, water, paper products and building materials come from major corporations and others.
“We are in need of one or two more lifts,” Johnson says.
The Community Foundation of the Dan River Region announced the God’s Pit Crew grant among those totaling USD878,800 and awarded to 56 non-profit community agencies ON 12 January. The Danville Regional Foundation Fund provided USD500,000 of the money for the community awards including the grant to God’s Pit Crew.
The organisation applied for a grant of USD21,000 but was approved for USD20,000. The CFE branch in Roanoke, Virginia agreed to supply the forklift for the grant award although the Nissan LP Platinum series model with lifting capacity of 5,000 pounds (2,250 kg) has a value exceeding USD22,000.
In addition to Nissan, CFE in certain markets sells new forklifts from the Crown, Landoll/Bendi, Manitou, Taylor-Dunn, Jungheinrich and Hoist Lift lines. CFE is based in Norfolk, Virginia and, in addition to Roanoke, has other branches in Richmond and Manassas, Virginia and Jessup, Maryland.
|Forklift attachment saves time and money|
Las Vegas, NV, United States
Multiquip displayed its EZ Grout Hog Crusher job site material recycler at the World of Concrete last week.
The Hog Crusher features built-in forklift pockets and attaches to a skid steer loader or forklift. It can pulverise recyclable material in minutes, eliminating the need to have debris removed from construction job sites. It can recycle materials like brick, block, stone, rock, asphalt and non-reinforced concrete.
Multiquip product manager Warren Faler says the product saves contractors time and money by eliminating a dumpster rental and waiting for someone to remove the debris at additional cost.
Mentor receives Proskills accreditation
Chesterfield, United Kingdom
Mentor, a UK provider of forklift driver training, has become accredited to the Proskills National Skills Academy for Materials, Production and Supply.
The accreditation has been developed to supply employers with a directory of quality-assured training providers. Training courses available under the Proskills NSA accreditation include all types of forklifts, telehandlers and mobile plant equipment.
Formed in 1988, Mentor has trained over 350,000 operators in over 5,000 UK companies. It comprises over 170 training professionals and support staff.
Proskills is an employer-led organisation representing the interests of process and manufacturing industries in the UK.
Manitou’s FY2009 revenue halved
Manitou BF’s revenue for fiscal 2009 totaled EUR684 million (USD943.5 million), 54% lower than fiscal 2008’s EUR1.481 billion (USD2.043 billion).
“We’re pleased to see that we’ve eventually bottomed out, with Q4 showing some evidence for organic growth again,” says Manitou CEO Jean-Christophe Giroux.
Giroux referred to the fourth-quarter revenue of EUR179 million (USD246.9 million), which was 5.3% higher than third-quarter revenue.
Manitou expects 2010 to show “mid to high” single digit growth over 2009 due to revived manufacturing volumes and lowered fixed costs.
Latest world ranking list
The world’s leading forklift manufacturers remain in the top four places in dhf-intralogistik’s 2008-09 world ranking list, while China’s top two manufacturers have switched places.
Toyota Industries Corp is first with sales of EUR4.842 billion, KION Group second with sales of EUR4.554 billion, followed by Nacco Industries’ EUR1.969 billion and Jungheinrich’s EUR1.901 billion.
China’s Hangcha placed 16th with sales of EUR346 million and Heli is ranked 17th with EUR317 million.
Read Forkliftaction.com News next week for the full story with comments from the ranking’s author, Wolfgang Degenhard.
|Facebook, Twitter, popular with forklift marketers |
|TVH-Group Thermote & Vanhalst is the latest member of the forklift industry to embrace social media websites to promote its activities.|
Starting this month, TVH will use LinkedIn, flickr, Facebook and Twitter to reach its customers and contacts, and to inform the public of its activities.
Sofie Duquesne, TVH’s PR advisor, tells Forkliftaction.com News that the TVH Facebook page will be regularly updated with pictures of events and information on training and courses, participations in exhibitions, and open days.
Duquesne says the websites target “people all over the world” who want to stay in touch with TVH, who are interested in the company, and those who wish to know more about its activities.
She explains that social media websites are different to the company website.
“On the website, you can find more detailed information while the social network sites have more of a triggering function.
“Since you can only post 140 characters in a ‘tweet’, you can trigger your followers to click through to a link on the corporate website. The content on the social network sites is much more condensed.”
Michiel Vermeulen, marketing manager for forklift weighing scale producer RAVAS Europe BV, says the company makes use of LinkedIn to get and stay in touch with key members of a large number of industries.
“We use it mainly for business purposes and not to stay in touch with friends. I think that has got to do with how LinkedIn was set up and launched, being the professional social network amongst the others.”
Vermeulen explains that LinkedIn has helped him initiate contact with “strangers” who are linked to people in his network.
“It can take away the barrier or shame to contact a complete stranger as you might feel like you actually know the person based on shared contacts.
“(Apart from) connecting to existing contacts, we used LinkedIn to find new prospects, customers and invite people of interest to shows where we are exhibiting.”
He adds that RAVAS is not actively using social media to promote the company “but this might change in the future”.
Carlo Fallarini, sales and marketing director for Bolzoni SPA, says the forklift attachment maker is currently not a part of any social network but is considering joining the same ones as TVH.
Fallarini says the sites would be useful specifically for end-user promotion but can still have value for its business.
“Bolzoni Group is mainly working with forklift dealers and OEMs … [We can use the sites] to promote the brand name and our products and services,” he says.
Yale Europe announced its new European website the same time it launched a blog and Twitter page last year. It said it hoped to “open up more communication channels” with its customers, dealers and the media via its blog posts and tweets (Forkliftaction.com News #423).
The Fork Lift Truck Association credited Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for quadrupling traffic to its website during the launch of its National Fork Lift Safety week last September (Forkliftaction.com News #439). David McGuire, the association’s marketing strategist, received an innovation award from The Hub business network for using the social media sites to boost forklift safety awareness.
|Fleet maintenance contract awarded |
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
|Fleet maintenance expert Sargent has been awarded a contract to provide comprehensive maintenance of the ground support equipment of Australia’s largest flight caterer, Q Catering.|
Under the agreement, Sargent will manage the maintenance of Q Catering vehicles located in various capital cities within Australia, including high-lift catering trucks, various commercial vehicles and specialist aircraft servicing equipment.
The fleet is in excess of 3500 vehicles and is characterised by an extensive range of 4WDs and 2WDs, trucks, vans, buses and materials handling equipment.
Q Catering, a Qantas company, operates seven catering and food production centres across Australia. Its customers include Qantas, QantasLink, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Great Southern Rail.
|EastPack to invest in new equipment |
Te Puke, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
|Kiwifruit supplier EastPack intends to invest another NZD8.5 million in sophisticated new plant and automated equipment in 2010 to support higher volumes, lift the quality of out-turns and deliver greater efficiencies.|
The company, which operates three sites in Te Puke, Edgecumbe and Opotiki, aims to handle over 18 million trays of kiwifruit this year, up 14% from 2009.
It currently uses around 55 forklifts during the main season, 25 of which it owns, with the remainder under long-term lease.
|Costa secures logistics contract |
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
|Logistics provider Costa Logistics has been chosen to supply agri-business Simplot with a national chilled supply chain solution.|
The company was chosen for its experience in handling quick turnaround products and its expertise in handling high volume perishable goods.
"Costa Logistics' chilled supply chain solution offered us the opportunity to ship production in bulk to a single consolidation point where combined orders of pasta and sauces are picked and shipped to customers,” says Danny Mellon, national logistics and planning manager at Simplot.
The project will see products moved to Costa Logistics' distribution centres as they are produced and the logistics provider co-ordinating outbound transport of the products to a range of Victorian and interstate delivery points.
Costa Logistics expects to service about 20 customer locations with approximately 10,000 cases per week of product on behalf of its new client.
|Expectations increase for a brighter 2010 |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Australian businesses believe that 2010 will be better than 2009, according to findings from the latest business expectations survey from Dun & Bradstreet.|
Companies reported their strongest expectations in many years for inventory and employment growth. Australian executives also have increased profit level expectations, with the profit index reaching its highest point in five years.
"With unemployment being seen as a major concern throughout 2009, the improved employment expectations across all sectors is welcome news for both those who are in the labour market and for business confidence on the whole," says D&B chief executive officer Christine Christian.
According to Dr Duncan Ironmonger, Dun & Bradstreet's economic consultant, businesses are backing up these expectations with intentions to make relatively strong increases in capital investment and inventories.
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|Video ---Impact Recorder For Equipment |
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|Omega reworks, extends ARM-XL line ||Omega Lift Manufacturing Inc. has announced the re-design of their heavy capacity telescopic handler line, the ARM XL Series. The ARM XL offers 12,000lbs. – 20,000lbs. capacities in standard production, and up to 30,000lbs. capacity as a custom order.
The ARM XL boasts a Tier III, 6-cylinder Perkins Turbo Diesel engine and hydrostatic drive with an optional shift on the fly gearbox. The ARM XL uses dual hydraulic pilot joysticks to operate boom and carriage functions and has the ability to accommodate many attachments including side shifting carriages, pipe clamps, buckets, winches etc.|
Click here for more information on this product, including pictures.
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Editorial Calendar 2010
The Forklift Market in The USA
Attachments: Pallet Handling
Used Forklift Dealers
The Forklift Market in China
Materials Handling Equipment in Ports
The Forklift Market in Latin America
Industrial Tryes and Wheels
Batteries and Chargers
Materials Handling in Europe
Warehouse Counter Balance Forklifts