To the relief of exhibitors and the organisers of the International Materials Handling Exhibition held at Birmingham's NEC on November 16-19, the postponed show had a vibrant, busy feel, attracting many overseas exhibitors for the first time. There was an air of quiet confidence about the recession receding, although many agreed that there was still some way to go to return to the business levels of early 2008.
UK correspondent Bill Redmond
looks at some of the offerings on show:
Commander Sideloaders UK
is a new British maker of diesel and gas sideloaders, established in March this year, which will give the industry more choice. Lift capacities range from 3,000kg to 8,000kg, with plans to extend the range to 10,000kg. The range, which was "very well received, by the marketplace", according to joint MD Ian Platts, incorporates many new features requested by operators, including a lower platform height and a quieter, more responsive drive. The company also refurbishes sideloaders irrespective of make or model.
Another sideloader producer, Hubtex
, has launched a new generation of universal, four-way sideloaders, the DQ30 and DQ70, to add to the DQ45. Lift capacities range from 3,000kg to 10,000kg and lift heights from 3 to 7.5 metres. The agility of the DQ series with its lengthwise, crosswise and circle drive, can save 50% of valuable floor space.
Still on forklifts, Translift Bendi
chose the show to launch a number of new products. These include the mini Bendi, (a pedestrian articulated forklift), a completely reshaped B420 AC high lift model, the Bendi EU truck, which is a hybrid of the original Bendi and the traditional support arm stacker truck widely used in European markets, and the Bendi Arctic truck. The last of these has a cold store cab and joins the other two competing articulated producers, Flexi Narrow Aisle
and Aisle Master
. Their potential to slash high cold store construction and running costs is huge. Currently, cab-equipped reach trucks are most commonly used, but the articulated trucks will work in aisles only 1.6 m wide, a full metre less than reach trucks, while lifting loads to 12 metres or more.
Users of the new compact J series forklift from Samuk
will find the easy battery change a boon. Based on a roll-in system, it provides a simple, single-handed battery swap. A three-wheeler, the J series covers a lift range of 1 to 1.7 tonnes and has a top fork height of 6.5 metres.
Until recently, Crown
never produced its own IC forklifts, preferring instead to buy in those trucks. Now, shown for the first time is its own C-5 truck which was on show in Birmingham.
Driver comfort is much in mind on the new X-range of IC trucks from Nexen
. The stability and rigidity of the 1.6 to 5 tonne trucks have been standardised, explains Georgi Todorov, head of the design department. The cabin is fully floating and so reduces vibrations, but the engine and transmission in the power train have been divided into two separate parts to prevent vibration transmission from the engine to the chassis and the chassis to the driver. The engine follows the highest standard of Californian environmental protection.
A name that does not readily spring to mind in Britain for end-of-line automation is the Italian company Elettric 80
, known for its laser-guided vehicles, including its latest innovation, the Giraffe, a single pallet reach truck with an 11 metre lift. Unlike AGVs, which usually require a buried, energised wire, Elettric 80's SGVs need only small passive reflectors located within the area to be automated. This makes installation and subsequent alteration much easier and cheaper.
is another name in warehouse automation little known in Britain. Based outside Boston in the USA, the company has just completed its first UK project for Gap, the clothing retailer, the result of following its international clients' wishes to make their products available in overseas markets. Kiva's mobile robotic drive units are all about enhancing order picking procedures by bringing inventory pods to workers who use a simple pick-to-light interface to fill each order. Kiva claims that its system costs dramatically less than other automated systems by eliminating the need for conveyor and expensive sortation equipment.
Another new name in Britain within the last few weeks is Durwen Forklift Attachments
, a German company of 50 years standing. It offers a wide range of fork positioners and clamps.
, a supplier of industrial computers and vehicle-mounted terminals, unveiled two new products, the XMT 5/7 and MTC 6 industrial computer. The MTC 6 is a 10-inch industrial PC primarily aimed at intralogistics and port applications and designed to cut the total cost of ownership and support increased process efficiency. The XMT 5/7 is designed for cost-efficient use as a vehicle-mounted terminal for fleet management, driver communication or as a fleet maintenance tool.
In a similar line of business, Davis Derby
launched its Trucklog generation 5 driver access and fleet management system. It has a messaging system that allows two-way messaging between the controller and either the truck or driver. There is a smart card driver access control and an optional shock system to cut the cost of damage.
's new Omnii XT10 hand-held terminal for industrial, mobile computing promises to save users up to 30% on hardware costs over the lifetime of the product by reconfiguring based on the changing needs of a user's business, versus the cost of replacing the hardware.
, part of the Metalrax Group, has designed a new mezzanine goods lift to integrate with a mezzanine floor system for transporting goods between floors. Surface mounted, it requires no pit and is safer than a forklift truck raising goods to a second floor and far more cost effective than an elevator or lift.
, the forklift explosion-proof specialist, claims that its new system 6000 conversion kits for Zone 2 is unique because its gas detection system can now be selected with either pellistor or infra-red gas sensing technology. Previously, trucks could only be offered with one system but neither system suited all Zone 2 applications, claims Pyroban.