Materials Handling Online - September 1, 2000

Welcome to our materials handling industry newsletter.
Our team is busy building the site that will
revolutionise the way we all do business!
We want your input, please send us your ideas to email:


SYDNEY, Australia -- Patrick The Australian Stevedore, one of Australia's
largest waterfront companies, is testing an automated container handling
system which will boost productivity by replacing "wharfies" with robots.

Patrick executive director Chris Corrigan says the "driverless straddle",
currently being developed at the University of Sydney's Australian Centre
for Field Robotics (ACFR), eliminates the need for drivers to perform
functions such as lifting, moving and stacking containers at ports.

"In developing the automated machine, ACFR has made one of the first fully
free-ranging field robotic vehicles anywhere in the world," Mr Corrigan

The straddle's innovations include a high2Dintegrity navigation system
based on millimetre wave radar, wheel encoders and inertial navigation.
Global positioning systems, infra-red lights and sonic sensors direct the
straddles and guide them to containers.

The driverless straddle would considerably reduce employee numbers at
Australia's ports. Patrick was at the centre of a waterfront dispute in 1998
with the Maritime Union of Australia over employees' enterprise bargaining

Union workers manned picket lines in protest at the proposed agreements,
which saw a reduction in manual labour at Australia's ports.

Australian Peak Shippers' Association president Frank Beaufort said the
reforms had seen a quicker turnaround of some ships, but promised economic
benefits had not eventuated.

Patrick had approached the ACFR in 1996 to develop a conceptual design for
an automated straddle carrier. The prototype was first demonstrated to the
industry at Patrick's Port Botany, Sydney, terminal in late 1998.

The ACFR and Patrick have joined Kalmar Industries, of Finland, the world's
largest straddle manufacturer, to develop the project.

Other international companies are taking an interest in developing automated
machinery, with the benefits being reduced manual labour and human error and
therefore less compensation claims.

Komatsu is currently developing driverless mining machinery, using collision
detection systems on its 200 tonne mining trucks. The trucks are capable of
detecting objects such as a person lying on the ground up to 100 metres

British Aerospace is working with the ACFR to develop automated flight
platforms with radar and vision terrain sensors, data fusion and navigation



PEORIA, Illinois, USA -- Caterpillar Logistics Services Inc will continue to
provide parts logistics to Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc
(MCFA) after the signing of a 10-year contract on August 18.

The agreement extends the companies' relationship until 2010, serving MCFA
dealers in North, Central and South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

MCFA manufactures Caterpillar lift trucks and Mitsubishi forklifts at its
Houston, Texas headquarters; in Almere, The Netherlands; and Sagamihara,

Cat Logistics president Bill Springer said the company was proud to extend
its relationship with MCFA.

"By working closely (together), we have met world-class service standards
for the lift truck industry. (We are) looking forward to our continued close
relations with MCFA ... to set new standards of excellence in logistics
practice," he said.

Cat Logistics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc, provides
integrated logistics solutions incorporating information technology,
distribution, transport and inventory management, and product support. The
company employs almost 3500 people in 17 facilities worldwide.

Since beginning their partnership in 1994, the two companies have seen parts
availability and inventory turnover increased, while logistics costs as a
percentage of sales have declined.

The result for MCFA customers has been "industry-leading service at a
competitive cost", Mr Springer said.

MCFA president Yoichiro Okazaki said his company hoped to further enhance
its parts distribution and service support.

"MCFA has been very pleased with the world-class logistics services provided
by Cat Logistics over the past six years ... (We) look forward to continuing
our relationship," he said.

In other news, Caterpillar Inc has entered into a commercial agreement to
sell its used construction equipment through online auction website



PRINCETON, NJ, USA -- Interpool Inc has received US Government approval for
its acquisition of the North American intermodal division of Transamerica
Leasing Inc from Aegon NV, in The Netherlands.

The deal will expand its control of intermodal equipment and container and
chassis leasing.

Interpool, which leases containers and chassis to more than 200 customers
globally, was required to get approval under the US Hart-Scott-Rodino
Anti-trust Improvements Act for the transaction.

Transamerica Leasing, based in Purchase, New York, is a leading lessor of
intermodal equipment. The company is part of Transamerica Finance
Corporation, acquired by Aegon in July 1999.

Interpool announced in July that it had signed a definitive agreement to
acquire the division for US$675 million.

Interpool chairman Martin Tuchman said the acquisition would "substantially
advance" his company's goal of leading the US equipment leasing market.

Its customers include most of the world's 20 largest international container
shipping lines.

"Through this transaction, we greatly expand our chassis fleet, broaden our
management and customer services teams, and strengthen our financial
resources and technology platform," Mr Tuchman said.

He said Transamerica's rail industry focus "perfectly complemented"
Interpool's presence in the maritime industry.

Interpool reported a net income of US$19.42 million for the six months to
June 2000, compared with US$14.98 million for the same period in 1999.



Portland, Oregon-based Cascade Corporation, manufacturer Cascade forklift
attachments, is believed to have sent offer documents to its shareholders
detailing a proposed leveraged buyout by the board of directors. A deflated
share price has sparked interest in takeovers. Cascade president and CEO
Robert Warren announced in March that he and a management group were
exploring the possibility of Cascade going private through a management-led
buyout, but industry rumours suggest hostile takeovers from international
companies. The closing date for shareholder responses is believed to be
early September ... Meanwhile, Sydney-based Brambles Equipment will soon
close a deal to sell its forklift division. The division is understood to be
tendered by Deutsche Bank. NACCO Industries and GEC Finance are believed to
be linked to the sale.

Please do not hesitate to give us feedback on any content you would like to
see included. You will find a form for registering your comments at:
We look forward to receiving your messages and will ensure a quick reply.
If forklifts are your business and you have any news, good action photos or
tender information to publish, we would love to hear from you.
Please address an email message to:
The personal information you provide is used to improve our marketing and
promotional efforts, to statistically analyse newsletter usage, to improve
our content and news offerings and to customize our newsletter's content and
layout. We believe this will allow us to improve this service and better
tailor it to meet your needs.
By supplying your email address we can deliver information that is targeted
to your interests, such as new services and promotions.
Your email address allows us to keep you informed of our services and the
development of our portal websites.
We never sell or rent any personally identifiable information about you to
any third party.
If you no longer wish to receive the newsletter, simply
send an email to with
"unsubscribe" in the body of the email message.