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Mitsubishi restructures forklift production

Thursday, 14 Jun 2012 ( #569 ) - Tokyo, Japan
News Story
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) will halt the production of small- and medium-sized forklifts at its Kanagawa plant as part of the company’s plans to "evade currency risks and realise a globally optimised production structure to enhance its revenue base".

Under the restructure, the production of small-sized forklifts for export and medium-sized forklifts at the General Machinery and Special Vehicles Sagamihara Machinery Works will be terminated.

Small-sized, engine-powered forklifts for export will be made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Forklift (Dalian) Co Ltd (MFD) in Dalian, China, while medium-sized, engine-powered forklifts for the global market will be made by Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc (MCFA) in Houston, Texas.

The company is also discussing with Nippon Yusoki Co Ltd (Nichiyu) for the latter to produce its small forklifts for the domestic market. MHI is the largest shareholder in Nichiyu, owning about 20% of its equity.

Nichiyu president Hideaki Ninomiya says his company is examining the consignment production requested by MHI.

"Although the concrete amount of capital investment, factory layout and other specific matters are as yet undetermined and details will be examined from this point forward, manufacturing is expected to commence in the middle of 2013, with annual production planned to be about 4,000 units," Ninomiya says.

With Nichiyu’s factory in Thailand operational in 2013, and including its domestic and Chinese plants, Nichiyu’s total production volume is expected to reach 20,000 units in fiscal 2014 for battery-powered forklifts. The production of engine-powered vehicles for MHI is anticipated to boost Nichiyu’s revenue base.

Sagamihara will continue to manage and oversee all activities related to the company's forklift business. MHI spokesman Hideo Ikuno tells News that the 300 employees working with forklifts at the site will be reduced to 100 over two years "through transfer to other operations".

"Sagamihara Machinery Works will continue production of large-sized forklifts, which are made to order from customers, about 20 units a year. At Sagamihara Machinery Works, approximately 2,000 employees are working and engaged in manufacturing of engines, generators, turbochargers, construction machinery, etc, besides forklifts," Ikuno explains.

The transfers are slated to begin in the northern autumn. Sagamihara is scheduled to end forklift production at the end of December 2013, and parts production by the end of June 2014.

MFD, a subsidiary established in 2008, currently produces small-sized forklifts. It will produce small-sized forklift trucks, mainly for the Chinese market, but also supply them to the global market, except Japan.

MCFA established by MHI, Caterpillar Inc and Mitsubishi Corp, is engaged in the manufacture, sales and servicing of both engine- and electric-powered models. It will supply medium-sized models globally, including American, European and Japanese markets.

MHI and Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Europe BV (MCFE) have also announced they will transfer forklift production at MCFE in Almere, the Netherlands to other production bases, including Rocla Oy in Finland, in which MCFE has a 100% equity stake.

The restructuring plan for forklift production in Europe will be carried out after discussions with workers’ unions and employees.

MHI has five production bases in Japan, the US, Europe and China: Sagamihara in Kanagawa, Japan; MCFA in Houston, Texas; MCFE in Almere, the Netherlands; MFD in Dalian, China; and Rocla in Jarvenpaa, Finland.
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