Feature story

IMHX 2004 - THE UK'S BACK ON THE MAP

Thursday, 11 March 2004 ( #148 ) - BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom
Last week IMHX 2004 was run successfully at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, and, though some exhibitors and visitors took ages to reach the NEC by car, it was worth the trouble. The UK is back on the map!

The triennial IMHX is now in line with the calendar of other major European materials handling exhibitions: CeMAT (2005 in Hannover, Germany) and Manutention (2006 in Paris, France). IMHX 2001 attracted more than 15,000 visitors and was the largest show debut ever at the NEC. While official attendance figures haven't been tallied, indications are that this year's show greatly eclipsed the 2001 event.

IMHX 2004 incorporated the International Handling & Storage Exhibition and spanned more than 20,000 square metres. More than 300 exhibitors showcased their products and services to 11,000 pre-registered visitors.

The "big guys" were there: Toyota, Still, Linde, BT, Jungheinrich, Hyster, Daewoo, Yale, Atlet, Kalmar, Nissan and CAT. Outside the NEC, no one could miss Linde's huge reachstacker "moving the world". The only other exhibitor using the great outdoors was Irish sideloader expert CombiLift.

The atmosphere on the floor was businesslike and relaxed throughout the three-day exhibition. The loudest exhibitors drew the largest crowds. BT sent gents in full dress suits to swirl its machines through an arena. Long-legged beauties adorned the neighbouring Nissan stand, where a blonde woman raced around in a 1.5 tonne LPG forklift. Oriental dance and combat sports were a treat at the Daewoo stand and Toyota highlighted an enormous "video cube". Linde featured roller-skaters and guys kicking footballs, while Komatsu had a rubber rhino walking through the aisles.

The seminar program and product demonstrations were elaborate. Some were well attended, others were cancelled, and others were, well, yours truly was the only attendee. Obviously this section could benefit from more attention from exhibitors. BT Rolatruc's Forkliftaction.com-sponsored Fork Lift Truck Driver Championships winner was James Owens, from Tibbitt & Britten.

It was a great show. Everyone was happy, and millions of dollars was spent and earned during the week. IMHX 2007 will be from March 6 to March 8, 2007, at the NEC.

IMHX news:

UK forklift demand at record levels
The British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) has announced record levels for new forklift orders for the second consecutive year. Orders for almost 30,000 units were placed with BITA members in 2003, an 8% increase on 2002. The growth was attributed to an increase in forklift usage, but BITA also suspects forklifts are bring replaced more rapidly, prompted by customer demand and suppliers under pressure to fulfill volume targets.

Hermans Heftrucks Herrax coming
Belgian Hermans Heftrucks bvba is developing a four-wheel drive, rough-terrain, hydrostatic forklift. The Herrax wasn't ready for Birmingham but a debut is expected this year.
The Herrax, which has been in development for five years, will have five models of various configurations from one tonne to 3.5 tonnes.
An agreement is to be signed this week with a German producer. The first six machines are destined for dealers. "We expect to sell 30 to 40 trucks this year and to grow towards 200 units by 2007," a company spokesman said. The greatest challenge for a new truck builder? "To source the necessary components of your first truck."
The family business was established in 1962. In the mid-1980s a shift was made from agricultural machines to forklifts. The company has 26 employees and turns over EUR7.5 million (USD9.2 million) annually. Hermans imports new and used forklifts from Asia for trade in Europe. Only in Antwerp, Belgium, does Hermans deal directly with end users.

Mecano Reja debuts tougher new Explorer
There is more activity in the UK than in central Europe, says Spanish forklift maker Mecano-Reja's Guillermo Baquero Busse. The company debuted its new 3.5-tonne Explorer diesel machine at IMHX.
The Explorer completes Mecano-Reja's diesel range. The company began in 1979 as an importer of used Japanese forklifts. It produced its first machine, built by MAST, in Italy, in 1997. Last April Mecano-Reja bought MAST and moved production to Spain.
"We can build up to two trucks a day in our new facilities, 10 kilometres from our HQ in Archena," Mr Busse said. The setup allows seven to 10 day delivery times.
The company focuses on Europe, but has sent trucks to the Americas and the Middle East. It has dealers in Germany, the Benelux, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland and the UK.
"We have three dealers in the UK and are looking for more," said Mr Busse, who is responsible for the company's operations in the UK, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Mecano-Reja plans to double its output to 400 units this year.

Stonehall launches fourth-gen Shunty
Stonehall Engineering sales & export manager James McInerney said IMHX was the first public showing of the now commercially-available Shunty truck-mounted forklift. The Shunty is a three-wheeler with a permanent all-wheel hydrostatic transmission, a mounted boom powered by a hydraulic cylinder, and traction and inching controls.
The design has been four years in the making. "We tried to get the best fit to build and make it perform better," Mr McInerney said.
That is why, although the first Shunty model has barely hit the market, the manufacturer speaks of a fourth-generation design.
Advantages of the truck-mounted boom are better stability, no chains, less and easier maintenance, larger payloads, further reach and better visibility. The Shunty lifts 3000kg and has a full height of 3.36m.
Family owned Irish company Stonehall started engineering operations in 1969. The company developed scissor lifts, mining equipment and man lifters, which eventually led to diversification into telescopic forklifts.
Capacity is 200 units a year, or four units a week. The strategy is to grow in Ireland and the UK and could involve teaming up with strong dealers.
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