Materials Handling Online -- JANUARY 19, 2001
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IMHX 2001 95% SOLD OUT
BIRMINGHAM, UK -- Organisers of the first-ever International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX 2001), to be held from March 6-9 this year, say 95% of the floor space at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre has been sold.

The exhibitor list now totals more than 250 and sales director Graham Shearsmith is certain all remaining space will be sold before the start date.

"I can now confidently say that our original intention for IMHX - that it become the new big date in materials handling - has certainly been met, even before the show has taken place," he said.

"The number, variety and quality of exhibitors is unmatched in recent years, and much of our efforts have been to ensure visitors to IMHX are equally qualified."

IMHX will become a biennial event to showcase the global industry.

Mr Shearsmith said the build-up to the first show had been "immense".

"This is a very good time for our industry. Research by the British Industrial Trucks Association shows the forklift market is at an all-time high, with strong growth in all sectors," he said.

One million tickets will be circulated to potential visitors through direct mail and inserts in trade journals and magazines leading up to the show.

"IMHX will be an excellent forum for suppliers and buyers to meet, but the fact that the market is so strong at the moment puts on real pressure for an event like this to take place," Mr Shearsmith said.

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MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, USA -- In order to achieve "significant cost savings", Nacco Materials Handling Group (NMHG) will cut 680 jobs under new plans to quit production at its Danville, Illinois, plant.

NMHG will outsource, consolidate and phase out its Danville lift truck assembly operation within 18 months.

While the Danville plant, which employs 680 people, will be closed, NHMG says the 280 employees at its Danville parts distribution centre will not be affected.

Lift truck operations at the Danville plant will be consolidated into NMHG plants in Berea, Kentucky, and Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Some lift truck components currently manufactured in Danville will be sourced to outside vendors or manufactured at NMHG's Lenoir, North Carolina, plant.

A NMHG internal study concluded that consolidating its assembly operations would "offer significant cost savings and improve ... worldwide facility utilisation", a company statement said.

The decision to phase out the Danville plant means NMHG will have a restructuring charge and related plant closing charge of about US$9 million after tax for the fourth quarter of 2000.

NMHG said issues such as employee severance and benefits would be negotiated with the Independent Lift Truck Builders' Union for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
PORTLAND, USA -- Pending environmental damages litigation is delaying the merger of leading attachments manufacturer Cascade Corporation and the Lift Group.

Cascade entered a merger agreement with Lift Technologies Group, TD Capital Group and the Ontario Municipal Employees' Retirement Board in October 2000.

The Lift Group, a company formed by the three buyers, was to assume Cascade as a wholly owned subsidiary. The purchase price was about US$320 million, including outstanding debts.

The proposed completion date was to be January 31, but has been moved to March 31 pending the litigation, initiated by the City of Portland, which is seeking another US$19 million, further to a US$6.6 million environmental damages claim against Cascade and The Boeing Company.

The City of Portland brought a claim against the companies in December 1999, alleging damages to a city-owned water wellfield from groundwater contamination from the companies' Portland plants.

Cascade and Boeing say they are remedying the contamination, and that it has not affected water pumped from the wellfield. But in November the city raised new theories, which it asserts increase its damages claim against the companies by up to US$19 million.

Cascade believes the additional damage claim is without foundation and, in cooperation with the Lift Group, is taking action to minimize any resulting liability risk. Cascade said it had adequate insurance to cover any court order made against it.

A company statement said Cascade and the Lift Group remained committed to the proposed merger, and intended to close it "as expeditiously as possible". The merger is conditional upon obtaining shareholder and regulatory approvals.
CHELSEA, USA -- Thirteen people at a New Jersey meat wholesaler have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after inhaling the exhaust from a propane-powered forklift.

The Boston Times said workers began feeling "woozy" after using a borrowed, propane-powered forklift to hang meat in a cold storage area.

Firemen with breathing apparatus evacuated workers from inside the facility, where they found carbon-monoxide levels as high as 350 parts per million - 10 times the maximum recommended dose.

The US Occupational Safety & Health Administration and the US Department of Agriculture are investigating.

HONOLULU, USA -- A forklift operator has been awarded more than US$625,000 by the Federal Court for injuries sustained when his forklift fell 1.5m from a dock at Honolulu Harbour.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin said the fall occurred when a ramp collapsed after supporting pins snapped. Samuel Dollente suffered serious back injuries.

The court held that defendants Young Brothers and Hawaiian Tug and Barge could have remedied the dangerous situation, and both were found liable.
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