News story

Materials handling year in review

Monday, 30 December 2019 ( #955 ) - Australia
Budget 2019: instant asset write-off expanded
Budget 2019: instant asset write-off expanded
With little merger and acquisition activity or new dealer developments, forklift news in 2019 was dominated by accidents and safety issues.

In January, Kalmar signed a maintenance and support agreement with International Container Terminal Services, Inc (ICTSI), covering the automated container handling solution operating at Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT). The maintenance and support agreement covers all aspects of the OneTerminal automated solution, which comprises the Navis N4 Terminal Operating System (TOS), 20 Kalmar automated stacking cranes (ASCs) and 11 Kalmar AutoShuttles. The Kalmar Terminal Logistics System (TLS) conducts routing and execution for automated operations based on the orders from the Navis N4 TOS. TLS is connected through open Kalmar Key interface to five automatic neo-Panamax ship-to-shore (STS) cranes.

That month, Kirk Coningham was named as the new permanent chief executive officer of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC). Coningham had been the national executive director of the Urban Development Institute of Australia until December 2018, and previously headed the Master Builders Association of the ACT as chief executive.

US-based aerial lift sales company GMG established a new direct sales operation in Australia in late January. GMG Platforms Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary, carries GMG's full electric slab scissor range, RT scissors and boom lifts.

Retailer Coles selected Witron to deliver two new distribution centres as part of a supply chain modernisation program that will improve availability for customers while lowering costs. It is understood Coles examined Witron's track record of delivering 54 similar projects with global retailers including Kroger, Target (US), Supervalu, Sobeys, Edeka, Mercadona, Migros, Meijer, Inex and Coop Norway.

In February, Linfox announced the successful commencement of its operation of the former Aurizon Queensland Intermodal Business (QIB), with the first Linfox-managed train departing from Brisbane to Mackay. Linfox's integrated road, rail and sea services will provide a safe and efficient delivery of goods to market into and out of North Queensland. Linfox's expansion of its intermodal operation in Queensland followed the successful acquisition of Aurizon's QIB, incorporating the transfer of employees, freight forwarding, pick-up and delivery assets as well as rail wagons to Linfox.

The Western Australian government decided not to allow new operators to bid for leases to operate the existing container terminals at the Port of Fremantle. "The tender for new leases to operate container terminals at the Port of Fremantle has been narrowed to the current two operators, DP World and Patrick, with the process to now move to the negotiation stage," said a government statement.

ActronAir has added Toyota BT Vector VCE150A turret trucks
ActronAir has added Toyota BT Vector VCE150A turret trucks
National air-conditioning manufacturer ActronAir turned to Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) to help plan the materials handling requirements and provide equipment for its new warehouse in Marsden Park, New South Wales. A pair of Toyota BT Vector VCE150A turret trucks are at the heart of a new 21-strong all-electric fleet of Toyota Material Handling equipment chosen by ActronAir for the new expanded warehouse and distribution facility.

Mount Isa Airport and a nearby cattle station were evacuated in mid-February after ammonium nitrate being carried by a forklift began to produce smoke at a mine in north-west Queensland. According to the Brisbane Times, the evacuation covered a 3 km area within the boundaries of Milne Bay Road and the Barclay Highway.

National tile retailer Amber Tiles selected Koala Forklifts as its long-term materials handling solution provider to maintain its new Manitou forklift fleet at its Blacktown distribution centre. Pax Kowaliw, Koala Forklifts general manager, said Amber had placed an initial order of 10 units. "However, (this is) due to increase with their growth plans in the coming years. We've provided a flexible solution that will enable the fleet to grow with them," he added. Amber Tiles previously had a fleet of Toyota forklifts.

A Victorian vegetable farm was fined after a forklift carrying crates of lettuce hit a worker. According to AAP, the worker, a 50-year-old woman, was left with a dislocated shoulder, fractured pelvis, bruising and scarring, and had been unable to continue working in her role after the incident in December 2016. Covino Farms Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in Sale Magistrates' Court to failing to ensure a safe workplace and was fined $80,000 plus $4,500 in costs. It was the third time the operation at Longford, which grows and packs carrots, tomatoes and broccoli, had been convicted of breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Meanwhile, a Caboolture crane company was fined $45,000 and ordered to pay court costs of approximately $1,500 in the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court after a workplace incident in 2016 involving the erection of a crane at a four-storey commercial development in North Lakes when the counterweights fell off it. No one was injured, but there was potential for significant injury and damage. A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation identified there was inadequate restraint on the lower block-type counterweights.

In late February, Toyota Material Handling Australia was among the Toyota businesses affected by a cyber attack. According to a report on, Toyota Australia staff were told to switch off their computers after "an attempted cyber attack". A statement released by Toyota said the company believed "no private employee or customer data has been accessed". The attack affected all of Toyota's divisions, including its automotive arm, spare parts, finance and materials handling businesses as well as luxury offshoot Lexus.

In March, one of Australia's largest equipment hire companies, Kennards Hire, partnered with Internet of Things space startup Fleet Space Technologies to track the location and performance of its gear anywhere at any time. The new partnership allows Kennards Hire to instantaneously track its equipment through Fleet's fully integrated IoT gateway, The Portal. Kennards Hire will be one of the first customers connected to Fleet's constellation of Centauri nanosatellites.

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics was fined $100,000
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics was fined $100,000
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics was fined $100,000 in March after a worker was injured by a forklift. The case related to an incident at a factory in Laverton North, when an electric forklift operated by one worker was reversing when it struck a second worker who was walking behind. That worker, who was wearing a high-visibility vest at the time, was pushed to the ground and under the forklift, sustaining a fractured leg.

Toll's custom-built Nike warehouse in Melbourne's Altona North became the first-ever facility in Australia to achieve a whole-of-building carbon neutral certification under the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) in March.

In injuries in late March, a man was rushed to hospital after he was run over by a forklift on Sydney's north shore. The forklift driver was injured when his vehicle rolled over him on a construction site in Crows Nest.

Meanwhile, across the Tasman, a worker at the Pan Pac Forest Products mill north of Napier was seriously injured after being run over by a forklift. According to Hawke's Bay Today, the man, in his early 60s, was rushed to Hawke's Bay Hospital after the accident. He was in a serious but stable condition and the company was offering all available support to his family and others affected by the incident.

The New Zealand harbour ordered a classroom solution in order to simulate ship crane and mobile harbour operation. The simulator has the possibility of adding further Liebherr crane modules in the future. The simulator is actually two in one, allowing for training on more aspects of real port operations, with a generic ship crane simulator as well as the LiSIM version of the LHM 550 mobile harbour crane, both utilising much of the same hardware. The ship crane simulation-software features the CBG series, a floating four-rope grab crane with a boom length of 28 m and a maximum lifting capacity of up to 45 T.

In April, Australia's Federal budget contained few surprises - but at least the $20,000 instant asset write-off was not removed. Forklifts actually stood to benefit even more from the extension of the measure to June 2020 and the increase to $30,000, as it covers a wider range of forklifts. CPA Australia head of external affairs Paul Drum said the write-off allowed a business with a turnover of less than $10 million to claim an immediate deduction for a purchase. Significantly, the deduction is now available to businesses with turnover of up to $50 million - or another 22,000 businesses.

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) debuted its BT RAE160 reach forklift at the 2019 Auspack Packaging & Processing Machinery expo in Melbourne in April. The autonomous (driverless) 1.6 T capacity reach forklift featuring a 10-metre mast was on display and in action at TMHA's stand.

Adaptalift is offering Hyster's UT line
Adaptalift is offering Hyster's UT line
Hyster-Yale Group strengthened its Yale sales, service and supply operations in NSW and Victoria by expanding its partnership with Adaptalift Group. Hyster-Yale Asia Pacific managing director Tony Fagg said the new Adaptalift-Yale operation extended the existing successful long-term relationship between Adaptalift and Hyster-Yale, which combined the local expertise of family-owned Adaptalift with the support of global Hyster-Yale resources to meet all the materials handling needs of their customers.

Sydney-based Want Access added its 1,000th machine to its fleet in April - a Haulotte HA26 RTJ PRO articulated boom. The HA26 RTJ PRO also became the 100th Haulotte boom lift, and just one of more than 600 Haulotte machines overall, in the Want Access fleet, continuing the rental company's move into the big end of the market.

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) inducted a record 14 apprentice forklift technicians in its annual intake, ensuring a solid skills support base for the future. The apprentices, accompanied by mentors from their respective TMHA branches, received their tools of trade at TMHA's Sydney headquarters. TMHA president and CEO Steve Takacs - who began his career as a forklift technician - was on hand to welcome the inductees. The company received 826 applications for apprenticeships from around the country last year.

WorkSafe investigated an accident at a Clayton factory in which a man in his 70s fell to his death. The man was working inside a makeshift cage attached to a forklift when it came off the tines and fell four metres to the ground. Victoria Police confirmed that the man was declared deceased at the scene, and would prepare a report for the coroner. This fatality brought the number of workplace deaths by April to 10.

Meanwhile, Warrnambool abattoir Midfield Meat International was fined $95,000 after two of its workers were struck by a forklift. Midfield pleaded guilty to one charge under Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of failing to eliminate the risk of powered mobile machines colliding with pedestrians. This followed an October 2017 incident in which an employee was driving a forklift carrying a bin filled with skins through the centre of a yard and hit a worker and a company director standing in the thoroughfare.

In May, machinery attachment manufacturer Digga took delivery of a new fleet of Toyota forklifts - including eight Toyota 8FBE20 three-wheelers and a Toyota BT RRE160M reach forklift - for its materials handling operations at its Yatala, Queensland-based facility. The eight new Toyota 8FBE20 forklifts were chosen to suit the constricted operating areas created when extra storage was squeezed out from a factory rebuild. Digga also replaced the last of its gas-powered forklifts with battery-powered equivalents.

Forklift operators are among the most sought-after occupations.
Forklift operators are among the most sought-after occupations.
Materials handling skills are among the most sought-after in Australia, according to a report published in April. Research conducted on behalf of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) found that forklift operators, working safely at heights, working on boom-type elevating work platforms and safely working in confined spaces are the most sought-after occupations.

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) opened a new facility in Gepps Cross, South Australia in May. The ongoing growth of TMHA's Adelaide branch prompted a recent move from its former site to a brand-new 12,000 sqm facility in Gepps Cross, South Australia. The TMHA general manager - branch operations - south, Hamish Harper, said that, in his time with the branch, he had watched it go from strength to strength. Growth, he said, had led to the requirement for more infrastructure.

Haulotte Australia marked its 20th anniversary in May. "When we entered the Australian market in 1999, we were the first outpost set up by Pinguely-Haulotte outside Europe and we started with a limited range of products, in a small factory in Dandenong South, with just three employees," said Bernie Kiekebosch, founding manager of Haulotte Australia. "Celebrating 20 years in Australia is a major accomplishment. Our success is based on strong customer relationships," explained Keith Clarke, general manager of Haulotte Australia.

Hyster announced in May its plans to introduce the new UT Series range to the Asia Pacific. The new UT Series diesel or dual-fuel counterbalance forklifts, pallet trucks and stackers are available in six different capacities from 1.5 - 3.5 T.

Ross Grassick
Ross Grassick
In June, North Fork Group, the majority-owned Australian subsidiary of Nishio Rent All Co Ltd, acquired the assets and business operations of Lencrow Forklifts. Lencrow Forklifts is a leading forklift hire, sales and service provider, which has been servicing the materials handling sector since 1976. The business is headquartered in Silverwater, NSW with branches located in Archerfield (Brisbane), Newcastle, Hallam (Melbourne) and Regency Park (Adelaide).

In an opinion piece in the Newcastle Herald in May, Faith Eason examined a recent $95,000 fine following a forklift accident involving two people on the business's premises. She argued that the fine was substantial for a business. "While insurance may have covered the legal cost, compensation and rehabilitation of the injured workers, this accident will have serious implications for the workplace. Importantly, the indirect or associated cost not covered by insurance can be four to 10 times greater," she warned.

A Gold Coast business was fined $90,000 after a worker was run over by a forklift that had its reverse warning turned off following noise complaints from neighbours. The 61-year-old woman was hit by a reversing forklift, driven by another worker, in November 2016. Poultry processor Gemfire, trading as Nerang Park Poultry, pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court, after an investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

TRT launched a new pick and carry crane, promising improved operator safety and productivity improvements. The new TIDD PC28 has a 28 T lift capacity, with a three-section telescopic boom. It boasts a small footprint to move and lift in tight spaces. TRT is a privately owned family business, operating for more than 50 years. The key manufacturing facilities and head office is in Hamilton, New Zealand, with branches and warehouse facilities in Auckland and Christchurch. TRT operates throughout Australia, New Zealand, PNG and the South Pacific.

Read part two of this report, where we examine the second half of the year here.
Machinery-onQ Listings
Combilift C2500
  • CombiliftC2500
  • 2013 | Used - Sale
  • Australia
  • AUD 37,290
Linde R16S
  • LindeR16S
  • 2009 | Used - Sale
  • Czech Republic
  • EUR 3,900
Caterpillar V150
  • CaterpillarV150
  • Used - Sale
  • United States
  • USD 19,500
Combilift C3000
  • CombiliftC3000
  • 2012 | Used - Sale
  • Australia
  • AUD 43,000
Combilift C3000
  • CombiliftC3000
  • 2010 | Used - Sale
  • Australia
  • AUD 29,000
Linde H30T
  • LindeH30T
  • 2007 | Used - Sale
  • Czech Republic
  • EUR 7,200
Svetruck 37120-54
  • Svetruck37120-54
  • 2000 | Used - Sale
  • Germany
  • EUR 99,000
Combilift C2500
  • CombiliftC2500
  • 2012 | Used - Sale
  • Australia
  • AUD 42,500
  • BTRR-B3
  • 2001 | Used - Sale
  • United Kingdom
Kalmar DRF450-60S5
  • KalmarDRF450-60S5
  • 2008 | Used - Sale
  • Germany