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Forklift makers roll out goods at NA 2008

Thursday, 24 Apr 2008 ( #357 ) - CLEVELAND, OH, United States
News Story
Raymond's iPort connector links forklifts to a computer system.
By Roger Renstrom

Forklift makers Komatsu, Raymond, Yale and Jungheinrich showed products and explained technologies as significant exhibitors at NA 2008, held on April 21-24 in Cleveland.

Organised by the trade group Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), NA 2008 featured four solutions centers, more than 500 exhibits covering 150,000 square feet (13,500 sq m) and 70 free educational sessions.

Komatsu Forklift USA Inc of Covington, Georgia, displayed a four-wheel pneumatic hybrid electric forklift AE50 in the United States for the first time. Komatsu says the equipment—"the world’s first hybrid electric forklift"—is commercially available in the Japanese market and will be available soon in other global markets.

The technology uses a sealed, maintenance-free, motive-power industrial battery, a built-in inverter charger, a capacitor and an on-board charge controller. The forklift can operate for 11 hours per day with a one-hour change period during the shift. The forklift draws power from the capacitor and battery. The controller captures regenerated current from five sources, stores the energy in the capacitor and delivers current as directed by the on-board controller.

Komatsu is expanding use of the hybrid technology to its other electric truck families.

Raymond Corp of Greene, New York, emphasised its enterprise fleet management solution—trademarked iWarehouse—enabling warehouse and distribution center managers to gather real-time data from operating systems on Raymond forklifts. Connecting to the forklift’s vehicle manager with a single iPort connector, the iWarehouse system helps Raymond forklift owners to collect and analyse information to maximise fleet productivity and reduce costs.

A customised Web portal can generate reports and benchmark productivity, diagnose potential operating issues remotely, reduce risk impact and optimise capital costs and maintenance expenses. For the communications system, Raymond has an exclusive relationship with damage prevention firm ShockWatch of Graham, Texas, a subsidiary of Media Recovery Inc.

Available modules include the iAlert code notifications via email, iControl operator configuration, iImpact notification provision, iVerify requiring a daily review of mandated checklist, iMetrics tracking daily usage data and iTrack reports on forklift fleet data by truck, facility, region and company.

Yale showed off its narrow aisle lift truck range
Yale Materials Handling Corp (YMHC) of Greenville, North Carolina, displayed in-warehouse technology and introduced a customer guide about industrial-grade critical components.

YMHC demonstrated its NR narrow aisle lift truck series, including ergonomic, service, fork laser line and camera options which allow operators to visualise exactly where the forks are positioned in relationship to the load.

YMHC created the guide to help customers identify and evaluate the relevance of components most affecting a forklift’s durability, cost of ownership and productivity in an industrial environment. The critical components include the mast, powertrain, cooling system, hydraulics, electrical system and frame.

Jungheinrich Lift Truck Corp of Richmond, Virginia, offered its EFG 425-430 four-wheel counterbalanced forklift as a "green" alternative to IC-engine forklifts.

Proprietary emission-free three-phase AC technology quietly powers the drive and hydraulic pump motors. The forklift has a capacity of 5,000-6,000 pounds (2,250-2,700 kg). An optional Multi-Pilot control manages all functions through one joystick.

Also, Jungheinrich displayed its 4,500-pound (2,025 kg) capacity electric walkie truck, the EJE 120, for transporting loads over short and medium distances. Jungheinrich designed the walkie for the United States market. The short compartment version has a turning radius of 58.7 inches (1.468 m). The Pro-Trac-Link high-performance stability caster system is available as an option.

Jungheinrich, automated pallet runner provider Konstant of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and returnable pallet maker Orbis Corp of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, were among six sponsors of the expo’s green pavilion, which featured information from green solution providers including governmental, academic and business groups.

In a general session, John Nofsinger, MHIA chief executive officer, said the state of the USD156 billion global material handling and logistics industry is healthy, currently employing about 700,000 in the United States.

Hal Vandiver, MHIA vice president for business development, said the industry’s market outlook might experience a mild contraction in 2008-2009. "As far as new orders, MHIA's forecast is for slower growth and a mild contraction in 2008 in the 5% to 7% range recovering late in 2009," Vandiver said.

He cited the Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing (MHEM) forecast of USD28.1 billion as a proxy for the overall industry, stating that 2007 total US consumption is estimated to have been up 5.3%. New orders grew 8.3% while shipments grew 8.9%.

Green to Gold author and NA 2008 keynote speaker Andrew Winston identified climate change, energy costs, regulatory moves and stakeholder pressures as drivers on the material handling and logistics industry to think more about supply chain greening. The forces, which he called the "green wave," include pressures for greener supply chains from large companies, particularly Wal-Mart Stores Inc. He said that strategies driving new revenues enhance brand value, cut costs and reduce risk.

MHIA and the non-profit Marine Civilian Development Program (MCDP) conducted an informational program and moved to help connect individual members of the US Marine Corps with corporate partners who may want to hire them. The collaboration at NA 2008 was designed to encourage more firms to enroll at MCDP corporate partners.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based MHIA has members in material handling and logistics equipment and systems manufacturing, integration, consulting, publishing and third party logistics. The international trade association’s next major event is ProMat 2009, taking place from January 12-15 in Chicago, Illinois.
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