18th August, 2000
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August 17, 2000

SILVER VALLEY, Calif., USA -- The rate of technical change is giving the
materials handling industry opportunities to exploit untapped markets and
expand current applications, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan.

The study, European Robotics for Material Handling Markets, says the use of
robotics is raising productivity and quality standards in emerging
application areas, but high installation costs and competition from
conventional automation continue to challenge manufacturers.

F&S is an international market monitor for industry, collecting data on
trends, measurements and growth rates. The latest study looked at the
progress of the materials handling robotics market in Europe.

The company says the compound growth rate for the European market will hit
3.8% before 2006, raising market revenues from US$424 million in 1999 to
US$551.4 million.

Increases in the technical change rate are being driven by increases in
power, speed and more efficient programming processes, but the pace of such
change is affecting pricing structures, says research analyst Brian

"The technological advances in robotics are rising at a faster rate than
their prices and, in some instances, prices are actually falling as the
performance increases," Flannery said.

European robotics for the industry are expected to continue growing, but
this is likely to be adversely affected by a predicted slow-down of
investment from Germany and Italy, two major markets.


August 17, 2000

TOKYO, Japan -- Toyota Motor Corp (TMC) has agreed to transfer its forklift
division to its affiliate, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works (TAL), in a bid to
"become the undisputed world leader" in materials handling.

TMC and TAL will amalgamate their automated storage and retrieval and
forklift operations, with the transfer "tentatively" set for April 2001.

While full details are yet to be finalised, TMC's forklift operation will
become part of TAL. All products covered by the agreement will continue to
use the Toyota brand name.

Since entering the forklift market in 1956, TMC has focused on sales and
marketing, while TAL has specialised in development and production.

To further sharpen and consolidate their logistics and forklift operations,
the two companies "recognised the need, from a global perspective, to create
an environment that would allow faster decision-making and more flexible
management", a statement said.

Merger talks will involve details of the transfer of forklift division
assets, including goodwill, investments in domestic and foreign companies,
and real estate.

Toyota recently acquired 97% of Swedish machinery group BT Industries,
taking over the top forklift group position from Germany's Linde AG.

TAL and BT combined held 22% of the world market in 1999, compared with 18%
for Linde and 15% for NACCO Industries.


August 18, 2000

HAMMONTON, New Jersey, USA -- Airtrax Inc has been contracted to develop a
machine capable of moving munitions and jet engines on US Navy aircraft

Under the US Department of Defence's Small Business Innovation Research
program, Airtrax will develop a prototype omni-directional, multi-purpose
mobility platform vehicle during the next two years, in a deal worth nearly
US$1 million.

The US Navy hopes to increase the number of missions it can accomplish in a
24-hour period by speeding the process of delivering ammunition from ships'
magazines to the flight deck.

The task usually involves navigating the long, unwieldy weapons through
areas congested with personnel, material and aircraft, which the company
says is the "natural environment" for forklifts and specialty transporters.

Airtrax executive vice-president Barney Harris said: "Navy ships are
literally designed around the ability to move material within. Future naval
ships designed around omni-directional vehicle technology will require less
internal space, and will be more cost-effective."

Harris believes the applications of omni-directional vehicles will span
further than aircraft carriers. He says naval resupply vessels, which suffer
delays during the transfer of equipment, would also benefit.

Because gun ships and other naval vessels stop at sea for replenishment,
omni-directional vehicle technology could also save lives, reducing the
amount of time spent in the equipment transfer process.

Meanwhile, Airtrax's commercial version of the omni-directional forklift is
in final testing, and expected to be in showrooms by the end of the year.


August 18, 2000

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The world's first mobile container lifter, which can
replace forklifts and straddle handlers, has won a commendation in the 2000
BHP Australian Steel Awards.

Designed by Tom Schults, of Brisbane, Australia, the Mobicon mobile lifter
brings container lifters within reach of smaller companies which could not
previously afford their own equipment.

With more than four million containers lifted in Australia each year,
already companies in Australia have commissioned the innovation. A price tag
of less than A$200,000 has helped the Mobicon gain interest from New
Zealand, USA, England, Holland, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore and The

The Mobicon uses the container as part of the overall structure. Two mobile
towers, the front tower driven like a vehicle, separate to carry the front
and rear ends to the container.

The machine can manoeuvre under doors and awnings as low as 3.6 metres, and
can handle containers from 16 feet to 62 feet long. Handling costs are cut
as the Mobicon can be transported in a container. Its low axle weight means
it can operate in any yard.

Mr Schults said the Mobicon delivered fast turnaround times, reduced use of
prime movers, less freight damage, due to less handling, and less time to
pack and unpack containers.


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