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|As we enter another year, let’s be thankful that we’re associated with forklifts and not that other form of powered vehicle – the automotive sector. While things may seem tough for forklift manufacturers and vendors, spare a thought for the once-mighty car industry, where global brands are being reduced to charity cases. As we see in the industry review in this week’s newsletter, there have been some demanding times – but there has also been a fair amount of consolidation which should prepare the industry to weather the economic storm we’re going through. There’s plenty of optimism around, fueled by a belief in innovation, quality and service. And the diversity of the forklift market is another key lifeline for all. So while some analysts are painting a grim picture, it’s worth remembering the saying: when the going gets tough, the tough get going! Let’s hope they’ve already done so, and that we get through these challenges and quickly return to the good times.
|Forkliftaction.com crosses the ocean to meet up with members and advertisers at Promat 2009, Chicago USA.
|On January 12, Promat, the largest materials handling and logistics show held in the United States, opens its doors again in Chicago, Illinois. 800 materials handling and logistics providers will showcase their products and technologies over four days.
It is the place to feel the heartbeat of our industry in North America and Forkliftaction.com will be attending to experience the atmosphere first-hand. Meet with Roger Renstrom (North American bureau chief) and Rodger Lamb (sales manager) on the floor.
We want to talk to you about the show, your news, our advertising options, or anything related to our industry. We’re keen to hear what you think about our industry portal and newsletter and would welcome any suggestions.
Email us at email@example.com, phone +61 7 3369 9090 or fax +61 7 3369 9096 to lock in an appointment with one of our Ro(d)gers.
|Some optimism after a tough year
|By Annette Densham
Despite the bleak outlook, some of the leading players in the materials handling industry have an optimistic outlook for 2009. The positive sentiments come amid forecasts of further economic slowdown and major job losses.
Signs of hard times ahead became apparent towards the end of 2008 when companies like UK forklift manufacturer JCB and US supplier Nacco Materials Handling cut their workforces, while other big names reported drops in sales and orders.
However, all was not doom and gloom throughout 2008: a range of new innovative products was launched, there was a growing interest in the use of hydrogen-powered forklifts, and the Asian market grew through ongoing investment and acquisitions.
Company highlights from 2008
Rory Harvey-Kelly, general manager of sales for Komatsu Forklift in Europe, says 2008 was characterised by product launches by his company as well as product improvements across all segments of the company’s portfolio. “We extended the range of warehouse equipment, introduced new pallet trucks for seated and semi-seated operation and launched two new series, the CX50 and the DX50 series.
“A highlight of 2008 was to be recognised by the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) as winner in the innovation category. Our compact BX50 series won against six nominations from other manufacturers for the most innovative truck,” he says. “In December, we learnt from FLTA that Komatsu’s CX50 is a finalist for the 2009 award in the environment category.”
Kalmar featured regularly throughout the year with new product launches and new orders.
In January, it launched a self-loading vehicle – one-over-one Kalmar Autoshuttle. It won an order from Martens Beton for 14 forklifts and an order for 22 E-One rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes from South African Transnet Ltd. In March, it received an order from the Port of Tacoma for seven CSC 350 straddle carriers and won a five-year contract at the new Sjursøya Container Terminal in the Port of Oslo.
In December, Kalmar won its largest ship-to-shore (STS) maintenance contract for equipment at the Port of Vuosaari. From April to December, Kalmar took orders for 150 straddle carriers, terminal tractors and RTG cranes.
Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction won a USD120 million contract in May to supply the Port of Singapore with 79 rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes, with the last order to be delivered in December 2009.
Chinese manufacturer Maximal Forklift also goes into 2009 bouyed by success in 2008 , which a spokeswoman describes as an excellent year for the company despite the challenge of price increases in February by iron ore suppliers. “The company displayed its latest products at the 103rd Canton Fair,” she says. “We improved the three-wheel and four-wheel electric forklift and by the end of the first half year, Maximal had sold 1,022 units.”
Maximal is now the preferred supplier for military equipment of the general logistics department of the Chinese armed forces.
JCB received an order for 2,000 Loadall telehandlers in May from plant hire company Fork Rent plc. It was the biggest single order in the company’s history.
In September, JCB was awarded the Queen’s Award in the International Trade category after increasing overseas sales by more than 36% between 2004 and 2006.
JLG Industries Inc shipped its 1,000th Millenia Military Vehicle (MMV) telehandler to the US Navy in July as part of a contract to provide 197 MMVs to the Naval Construction Battalion.
Carlo Fallarini, sales and marketing director of Bolzoni Auramo group, says that despite the economic crisis, 2008 was a reasonably good year for the group.
“In the second quarter, the CeMAT show was a great success and we were able to present new and innovative products that will be launched in the beginning of 2009,” he says. “Throughout the year, the group had the chance to close important and multiple orders with worldwide well-known companies.”
Fallarini says the group completed its main production facility in Piacenza, Italy, giving the company the opportunity to break into a new market and to win important contracts with companies such as KION, Jungheinrich and Nissan.
Intella, a wholly owned subsidiary of Van Gent Forklift parts, had a successful 2008 with over 10,000 new items added to its product range. Marcel VandenTop, general manager of Intella, says the company successfully launched its fork program, created a new e-commerce web shop and a new online PDF catalogue displaying over 600 pages of parts.
Acquisitions, Mergers and Expansions
In January, Haulotte Group sold its French rental businesses to Loxam Group for an undisclosed sum.
February saw TVH acquire Belgian equipment sales and rental company Saveco Maintenance Service (SMS) while Rocla opened a new office, Rocla Moscow, in St Petersburg.
In February, Kalmar established a new sales company in Mexico to support its dealer network and help develop the market.
Kalmar expanded its interest in South America with acquisition of Equipos y Servicios para Terminales y Puertos SRL (ESTP) in August and acquired 80% of CVS Technoports and CVS Service in November.
Linde Material Handling announced plans to invest EUR21 million (USD33.1 million) over three years in boosting the competitiveness of its heavy forklift business in the global marketplace. About EUR17 million (USD26.8 million) will be diverted to research and development .
In April, Barloworld Logistics, Barloworld’s supply chain management subsidiary, acquired Dubai-based Swift Group and its overseas affiliates for USD70 million and acquired Hong Kong-based logistics company Flynt International for USD13 million.
Jungheinrich announced plans to open a new factory in Leipzig in 2009 as part of its strategy to increase its global manufacturing capacity to over 100,000 units a year. The new factory will produce low-level warehouse equipment.
Still in May, Veri-Tek International Corp, the manufacturer of rough-terrain forklifts, boom truck cranes and special mission-oriented vehicles, changed its name to Manitex International Inc.
JCB also featured heavily throughout the year with stories on its achievements and tough times. In January, JCB reported it had sold over 70,000 machines in 2007, 30% more than the previous year, and it had appointed 46 new dealers, bringing the total to 670 dealers and 1,500 service depots worldwide.
Acknowledging the coming pressure on the global economies, JCB was adamant it would go ahead with its overseas investments.
JCB employees felt the sting of the economic slowdown after the company announced plans to cut UK production by 19% and reduce its workforce after a decline in sales in October. The action would have resulted in the loss of 800 jobs from the 5,500-strong workforce. The company had already cut 379 jobs. Workers voted for a shorter working week to protect the jobs of their workmates. The vote saved about 500 jobs.
Despite workers voting for reduced working hours, JCB announced further redundancies and production cuts in November. However, in a positive move, the company announced plans to retrain and up-skill current workers in preparation for economic recovery.
Impact Handling bought British Nissan forklift dealer Apollo Plant in May. The Apollo business is expected to increase the company’s annual turnover to around GBP50 million (USD98.7 million).
Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks dealer MSM/DRH Ltd received a funding package from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to help expand its business after a change in ownership.
In June, Rocla Oyj expanded its operations in Denmark with the acquisition of VB Trucks a/s.
Jungheinrich AG was set to expand its German business in 2009 with plans to open five forklift factories.
Toyota Industries Corp was named the top forklift supplier in Modern Materials Handling’s annual top 20 ranking list in August for the sixth year in a row. The KION Group maintained its number two position.
The World Industrial Truck Statistics showed Europe as the largest market, with orders growing by 16% in 2007 to 400,000 while Asia grew by 17% to 280,000. Analysts expect many of the Chinese and Indian forklift suppliers to be in the top 20 in 2009.
In August, Mecano Continental introduced a compact hydrostatic rough-terrain forklift and announced it will establish a new base in Germany.
DAC Handling Solutions Ltd, Britain’s largest independent distributor for the Still forklift product range, went into administration on July 18. Still Materials Handling, DAC’s largest creditor, acquired its assets for an undisclosed sum.
Konecranes purchased Aarhus Maskinfabrik A/S in August from Hydraulico Holding A/S for an undisclosed sum in a move designed to strengthen its position in the Danish market.
September was a busy month for takeovers and new partnerships with Manitou Group subsidiary Tenedor Corp launching a friendly tender offer to acquire the remainder of outstanding shares of Gehl Co.
Meanwhile, Forkway Group joined forces with Yale Europe in the UK to increase sales and CVS Ferrari signed an agreement with Manitou to distribute its container handling equipment in South Africa.
Still in August, Indian heavy equipment manufacturer TIL Ltd partnered with Hyster to exclusively market and distribute products to India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Doosan Infracore acquired German warehouse equipment manufacturer Advanced Technology Lubben (ATL) for EUR2.5 million (USD3.67 million). The move was part of Doosan’s bid to move into the European large-size warehouse market.
Hoist Liftruck added five new UK dealerships in October. The company said the partnerships provide the key to opening new sales opportunities to the region’s ports.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) subsidiary Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Europe (MCFE) announced plans to take a controlling interest in Rocla. MCFE already owns 28.1% of the Finnish company.
Many of the leading players started 2008 with strong figures but by the end of the year, some were starting to show cracks in their results because of reduced sales and orders and the credit squeeze.
Financial reports from Terex Corp, Oshkosh Corp and Nacco Industries in August indicated a range of ongoing profit and sales pressures.
Terex announced it would cut aerial work platform (AWP) production to get its inventories in better alignment with market demand. For its JLG business, Oshkosh reported softness in the United States market and stronger demand in Europe for the third quarter ended June 30.
Nacco Material Handling Group Inc’s (NMHG) wholesale business was USD3.2 million for the second quarter ended June 30, down a third from the same time in 2007 to USD10.4 million.
Singapore companies Tat Hong reported a 69% increase in net profit for the first quarter due to an increase in crane rentals and Tiong Woon reported an increase of 58% in sales revenue for the 12 months to June 30 2008, with the strongest growth coming from Singapore.
Manitou reported an 8.1% increase in net sales to EUR725 million (USD1.05 billion) for the first half of 2008 despite a 70% fall in sales in Spain.
The KION Group continued to grow during the first half of 2008, despite spiralling raw materials and transportation costs. The company’s revenue increased 9.3% from EUR2.07 billion (USD2.9 billion) in 2007 to EUR2.26 billion (USD3.19 billion) for the same period in 2008.
Attachments manufacturer Cascade Corp and equipment maker Terex reported lower sales volumes in North America and Europe and higher material costs during the second fiscal quarter ended July 31.
Still GmbH launched its new FM-X reach truck series in January to replace the FM-I Series.
In February, Kaup launched the T143S-T146S, T143SA and T145SA push-pull attachments; Yale produced a low-noise pallet truck; OM introduced the XE 13-20ac range of three- and four-wheel electric forklifts with load capacities from 1.3 to 2 tonnes; and Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks introduced a “do-it-all” sit-on stacker, the SBS15-20N series.
JCB launched two new low-boom Loadall telehandlers and Still GmbH introduced the CX-T series three-wheel tow tractor. Rocla Oyj introduced the first generation of its automated warehouse trucks in February.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Europe (HHIE) launched six new “Dash 7” forklift models in March.
Linde Material Handling updated its entire 1.4 tonne to 18 tonne internal combustion forklift range with the introduction of the 5- to 8-tonne H50-H80 models.
TCM Japan introduced the FB35-7 3.5 tonne (7,716lb) electric counterbalanced forklift to meet demand for environmentally friendly higher load capacity forklifts and Hyster Company introduced the Hyster Yardmaster II reach stacker series.
Sky-Trax Inc introduced Sky-Box, an on-board mobile network for forklifts, automated guided vehicles and other industrial vehicles and Yale Europe introduced a new heavy-duty mast for the MR 16-20 reach truck.
In May, Watts Urethane Products launched a new tyre compound with a shorter cure time, making it more environmentally friendly.
Toyota Material Handling Europe introduced the BT Lexio pedestrian pallet truck and the BT Staxio pedestrian stacker.
Still introduced the EXV series of high-lift tiller stackers with load capacities of 1.0-tonne and 1.2 tonnes but had to put production of the RX70 series hybrid diesel forklift on hold pending lower super-capacitor prices.
June saw Irish company Combilift launch its latest product, the Combilift Container Lifter, and Aisle-Master launch its AC-powered articulated forklifts.
Hyundai introduced a new range of battery-powered forklifts at CeMAT 2008.
Kalmar Industries introduced what it claimed was the world’s first straddle carrier with a hybrid drive.
Komatsu Forklift Europe introduced the diesel and LPG engine CX50 forklift series with 3.5-5 tonne load capacities to the European market and updated its 1.05-1.2 tonne MWS series electric pallet stackers with three-phase AC technology.
Hyster Europe unveiled its new K1.0M and K1.0H high-level order pickers that can lift up to 8 metres with one-tonne capacity.
Stanley Handling launched a new ROBUR reach truck designed to fit into tight spaces in August.
Yale Europe announced the release of a new pedestrian controlled rider/stacker, MC10-15, that can be used without a forklift licence.
Watts Tyre Group launched the Premia POB that is suitable for articulated forklift applications.
Genie added to its line-up of telehandlers with the release of the GTH-4017 SX and Kato launched a new rough-terrain crane for the Japanese market.
Combilift Ireland celebrated its 10th anniversary in September by launching a new forklift – the Combi-CB.
Sky-Trax demonstrated its new Indoor Position Sensing (IPS) that is capable of tracking mobile equipment and inventory in any building with pinpoint accuracy.
Toyota Material Handling Equipment rounded off the year by launching its Toyota Traigo 48 electric counterbalanced forklift and BT Reflex reach trucks.
In December, a German winery was the first to purchase Still’s new energy-saving device called Blue-Q. Blue-Q is activated by pressing the blue button on the control panel and reduces energy consumption by up to 20%.
Both Still’s RX 70 Pure Hybrid and Blue-Q Energy Optimisation are finalists in the 2009 FLTA Awards for Excellence.
The year started with a Chinese manufacturer Baoli’s debut at 31 on dhf-intralogistik’s annual world ranking list of powered industrial truck manufacturers.
Despite the Chinese forklift industry being impacted by snowstorms in late January and early February, the industry in the region looked set to grow in 2009 as more interest builds in more affordable materials handling equipment.
Baoli featured again in Forkliftaction.com News in November after informal reports global manufacturer KION was looking to expand its presence in the low-price segments in Asia through a 50% purchase of the forklift manufacturer.
KION told Forkliftaction.com News it was looking at potential partners in Asia and China but would not elaborate on "future potential strategies". German www.flurfoerderzeuge.de website reported that Germany's competition authority had been notified of Kion's intentions to take a majority stake in Baoli.
In February, dhf-intralogistik’s editor Wolfgang Degenhard said future ranking lists would feature mainly Asian companies because of the strong economic growth in the area.
Toyota Industries Corp (TICO) announced it wanted to sell 12,000 forklifts in China by 2010 and in February announced plans to expand forklift production at its plant in Kunshan to meet its target. TICO will invest about JPY2 billion (USD18.7 million) to boost the Chinese plant’s annual output from 2,000 to 5,000 units.
Equipment manufacturer Terex Corporation announced in May its aerial work platform subsidiary Genie Industries had selected a new manufacturing site in China. The company broke ground for its new site in September. Tim Ford, Terex Aerial Work Platforms president, explained, “The Asia market in general and the China market specifically is learning about the importance of the lift product category."
Komatsu Utility Co Ltd will invest JPY3.2 billion (USD30.7 million) to restructure its Japanese operations in a bid to boost production and operational efficiency.
TCM opened a new electric forklift assembly line at its Shiga plant in March to meet increasing demand for its forklift products. TCM’s forklift sales grew 108% from EUR253 million (USD389 million) in 2002/03 to EUR526 million (USD808 million) in 2006/07.
Doosan Infracore started work in May on its new forklift and compact excavator production plant in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. The plant will create 1,000 new jobs in the area. Managing director Byunghoo Kang told Forkliftaction.com News China’s rapid growth and logistics industry demand had increased forklift demand by about 30% annually.
Nissan Motor Co Ltd and NEC Corp’s joint venture company, Automotive Energy Supply Corp (AESC), will start producing batteries for forklifts and cars at Nissan’s Zama facility in Kanagawa prefecture in 2009.
In June, Nippon Yusoki Co Ltd (Nichiyu) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd revealed plans to consolidate domestic marketing activities by starting a new company in April 2009 to sell and service forklifts for both manufacturers.
GS Yuasa Corp. announced plans in July to produce batteries for forklifts in Chachoengsao Province, east of Bangkok, in a joint venture with local carmaker Siam Motors Co.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd will manufacture forklifts, excavators, wheel-loaders, mini/midi excavators and skid-steer loaders at a new plant in Ulsan, South Korea due to commence operation in October 2010.
August saw the release of the ‘China General Equipment Industry Report, 2008’ from Research and Market saying China’s investment in the general equipment industry had increased by 49.4% in 2007. It said China’s total investment in the industry reached CNY23.41 billion (USD3.4 billion).
Terex announced plans in August to purchase Italian port equipment manufacturer Fantuzzi. Terex was given the go-ahead by the European Commission (EC) to finalise its acquisition of the company in November but the sale may not proceed after Terex announced concerns about a “material adverse change”.
WorldCargo News released its 15th annual survey showing orders for ship-to-shore container cranes had increased for the third year in a row. Chinese supplier ZPMC accounted for 77% of orders for 2008.
Other companies showing growth throughout 2008 were Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction with 15 units ordered, 13 orders coming from PSA Singapore, and Fantuzzi with nine orders.
In November, Oshkosh Corporation broke ground at its new Chinese manufacturing facility in Tianjin.
Konecranes revealed plans in December to expand its Asian operations with the purchase of Chinese hoist and crane company, Jiangsu Three Horses Crane Manufacture Co Ltd (SANMA).
In the same month, Sumitomo Nacco Materials Handling Vietnam Co Ltd started work on a new plant in Vietnam to produce forklift transmissions and axle components for export.
Hydrogen fuel cells and alternative power sources
There was increasing focus and research into alternative fuel sources with a number of US companies receiving grants to facilitate the process.
In February, Raymond Corp unveiled early findings from its two-year research program on hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts, developed with funding from the New York Energy Research and Development Authority.
The findings show that compared to battery-powered forklifts, hydrogen fuel cell forklifts maintain comparable performance and the braking distance, maximum travel and lift speeds of the forklift are equivalent to that of an electric forklift.
Crown Equipment Corp was awarded about USD1 million in April from the state of Ohio to conduct fuel cell research. The research will focus on addressing the technical and commercial barriers to the application of available battery replacement fuel cell power packs in forklifts.
Raymond Corp signed a joint development agreement with Ballard Power Systems in May to develop a forklift prototype powered by the next generation of Ballard’s Mark9 SSL fuel cell product.
Also in May, Linde launched 700-bar fast-fill technology in North America. The technology makes it faster and easier to fill up vehicles with hydrogen.
Linde unveiled its world-first direct-injection hydrogen combustion engine for forklifts, a new hybrid truck and a fuel cell-powered tow tractor at CeMAT 2008 in Hannover, Germany. The concept forklift with a direct-injection hydrogen combustion engine can reach its maximum power rating using hydrogen. There are no emissions as the hydrogen-powered engine turns the fuel into water vapour.
CeMAT 2008 saw a range of machines unveiled that use Li-Ion battery cells and machines that run on alternative fuels such as hydrogen. Toyota demonstrated its Hybrid Concept Forklift that uses the same technology as its hybrid car, the Prius.
On the 13-day Hydrogen Road Tour, people were able to check out the GenDrive fuel cell units from Plug Power Inc. The GenDrive fuel cells replace lead-acid batteries. Nine automotive manufacturers, the US departments of energy and transportation, the California Fuel Cell Partnership and the National Hydrogen Association sponsored the tour to demonstrate how hydrogen vehicle and fuelling technologies are nearing commercialisation.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) funded the study ‘Hydrogen Fuel Cell Analysis: Lessons Learned from Stationary Power Generation’ at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. The study will look at ways to use hydrogen to energise forklifts, back-up power generators, military equipment and consumer products such as cellular telephones.
In the courts
Former Clark Material Handling Co executive, Robert E Quinn was given a second chance when Judge John D Bates ordered a new trial. The judge decided the prosecution improperly withheld critical information "unfairly prejudicing Quinn in the presentation of his defence".
Quinn was convicted in December 2005 of conspiracy and five counts of violating the US trade embargo with Iran. He was originally sentenced to 39 months in prison and fined USD 6,600. At his new trial, Quinn pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of making false statements to agents investigating a trade embargo case. In November, he was placed on 18 months’ probation and 70 hours’ community service.
In May, Texas-based heavy equipment vendor Hoss Equipment Company began a battle with Caterpillar Inc over its action in 2006 to stamp out parallel imports. Caterpillar was attempting to prevent a number of equipment dealers from importing its hydraulic excavator models that are not imported by Caterpillar itself.
Hoss Equipment Company claimed Cat was “subverting the US government into unwittingly restraining free trade”. National law firm Bryan Cave LLP, Alex Lyon Auctioneers, Yoder and Frey Auctioneers, World Tractor and Equipment and Worldwide Machinery, backed Hoss.
In September, Caterpillar backed down from its attempt to ban grey imports, settling the matter before it went to court. The company has agreed to allow the dealers to continue to import its hydraulic excavators if certain safety issues are addressed.
The effects of rising materials costs hit manufacturers and they passed this on to end users.
Watts Tyre Group warned forklift OEM dealers in March they must adapt to a “new paradigm” with the rising prices of tyres. The company increased the price of its tyres by 6% and then10% because of the increased cost of rubber. According to Watts, rubber prices rose by 35% in one year.
In June, Toyota Industries Corp raised the domestic prices of its forklifts by 6.5% in Japan, the biggest increase since 1992, due to increasing prices of steel and other materials.
Solideal Group increased prices on all of its tyres by 8% to 15% in July and then again by 8% in September.
Also in July, Japanese automotive giant Nissan raised domestic prices on its forklifts by 4.8% to 6.5%.
In October, Trelleborg Wheel Systems increased the price of its tyres in Europe by 7% to 10%.
Industry growth and regulation
The US-based Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) released a report in February stating exports of US-made construction machinery grew 26% from 2006 to 2007, with a total of USD17.2 billion worth of equipment sold worldwide.
AEM highlighted the need for the United States to step up infrastructure investment or risk being left behind, especially by emerging markets.
In March, British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) released figures showing the UK forklift market grew by 3.5% in the 2007 calendar year. BITA secretary general James Clark said it is difficult to predict the strength of the 2008 UK forklift market as “business confidence in some sectors is not as strong” as before.
At a time of the year when the media was heralding the coming credit crunch, industry analyst firm Plimsoll Publishing released a report in April saying the UK forklift market was bucking global trends and appeared cashed up and ready to buy. Plimsoll surveyed the UK’s top 420 forklift companies to find many were in a strong position.
By midyear, a Plimsoll study recommended UK forklift companies consolidate because supply was outstripping demand. The study found that out of those top UK companies, a third was on the brink of failure.
A further study by the industry analyst warned that almost 2,500 jobs could go as forklift companies faced tough conditions.
In July, Consolidated Fork Truck Services (CFTS) upgraded the Thorough Examination documentation to make them easier to use and changes were made to the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) to make training and testing more practical and flexible for the industry.
September saw the launch of the Fork Lift Truck Association’s first ever National Fork Lift Safety Week. The FLTA initiative highlighted the unacceptable high death toll and serious injury rates resulting from accidents involving forklifts.
The FLTA launched a new employee safety booklet – ‘Employee Safety: Working with Fork Lift Trucks’ -which aims to help reduce the number of accidents. Written specifically for those working alongside forklifts, and those who manage them, the booklet reflects the FLTA’s strong commitment towards training.
Plimsoll’s analysis of the UK forklift industry in October found 2008 had been a year of struggle and loss with at least 143 losing money. David Pattison, senior analyst of Plimsoll, said there were concerns over the number of forklift firms using an overdraft as a permanent means of finance.
In a new report, Plimsoll predicted the economic slow-down would see the UK forklift industry experience a series of takeovers and sell-offs as smaller companies sold to bigger companies.
Rocla Oyj was awarded an honourable mention in the Red Dot design competition for its h2 tiller arm for warehouse forklifts. Linde (China) Forklift Truck Corp Ltd received two awards recognising the quality of its forklifts and its contribution to logistics development.
Still won a Red Dot award for its SU 20 electric low-lift truck and another for its FM series of mast forklifts and Linde got a Red Dot for the 396 series forklift. Crown won a Red Dot for its WF3000 Series stacker.
At the third Shenzhen Logistics Conference in Shenzhen, Linde (China) was recognised as a ‘2007 Shenzhen Top 10 Logistics Equipment Supplier’ based on its product quality, service and contribution to Guangdong logistics development since 1995.
Crown Equipment Corp’s design centre and Design Central Inc of Columbus, Ohio won a gold International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) for Crown’s RC 5500 rider counterbalance forklift.
Rocla was awarded the global Automated Guided Vehicle Systems (AGVS) Award 2008 in October for its achievements, innovations and best practice in the field.
Combilift Ltd won the Irish Exporters Association’s Exporter of the Year award and the Manufacturing Exporter Award 2008 in recognition of its export achievements.
The road ahead
Komatsu’s Harvey-Kelly says the company sees itself in a good position for next year. “The focus for next year’s activities will be to use the market opportunities we have already identified,” he says.
Toyota Material Handling Europe (TMHE) plans to focus on delivering the highest quality service and added-value solutions that allow companies to focus on their core business during the challenging times in 2009.
A TMHE spokesperson says Toyota will offer customers a fresh, comprehensive product line-up and an integrated European network that will help better manage resources and provide the right services to meet customers’ needs.
Chu Jiang, vice president of Ningbo Ruyi Joint Stock Co Ltd, says everyone knows it will be tough in 2009 but Ruyi will support its customers through the difficulties. “Ruyi will attach more importance to developing new products from a customer’s point of view,” he says. “Ruyi was used to manufacturing OEM products with customers’ samples or drawings.
“However, now we have to put great effort in the independent development of products that meets the market demands.”
Ruyi will be at ProMAT in Chicago from 12 to 15 January.
Sir Neville Bowman-Shaw DL of Samuk Lift Trucks Ltd says Samuk’s survival issues are relatively trivial when related to the problems facing the market leaders. “The forklift industry has to reorganise itself before it repeats the North American car manufacturers’ fiasco by allowing Asian manufacturers to erode their market with smaller cars.
“My bet is that our industry will finish up with 10 significant companies of which three leaders will try to achieve 20% of the market,” he says. “2009 is likely to see the acceleration of forklift globalisation.”
Maximal’s spokesperson says the global financial crisis affected forklift sales; however, the company will continue to update existing products and release new ones. Maximal is currently testing its new 4.5-tonne diesel forklift and will soon release its 5-tonne diesel forklift.
“The general economic situation we experienced in 2008, especially in the third and fourth quarters, will continue in 2009, at least in the first part of the year. This is a clear fact we have to live with.
“Even if the market is reduced, we still have to compete, offer better products, better service and new ideas.”
Still says it is better prepared to face the difficult times ahead because over the past thirty years it has focused on conserving energy through innovative technology. A spokesperson says that each new Still truck is designed to offer the lowest total cost of ownership available on the market.
“The new year will bring about further energy-saving innovations from the company. For example, Blue-Q energy optimisation is now available on the RX 20/RX 60 range of electric counterbalance forklifts.”
Fallarini says the group will face a tough period in 2009, “but Bolzoni Auramo is prepared to support customers with new products, new services and innovative proposals.
“In 2009, we will launch five new fork positioner models, a new range of rotators for heavy-duty and aggressive environments, such as foundry or fish industry, a new range of lateral clamps, with many different clamping arms for pulp, waste and white goods,” he says. “The company will also launch a new full range of multi-pallet handlers, a new full range of push-pulls for non-palletised goods handling, both as fork-mounted and hung-on versions.”
Fallarini says Bolzoni Auramo plans to improve several internal processes, efficiency and the quality of facilities and products.
Intella’s VandenTop says 2009 will see the company expanding its product line and website and adding more parts for electric forklifts.
Yale will use the momentum created from CeMAT 2008 to continue its growth in 2009.
Frank Ulbricht, Yale Europe Materials Handling managing director, believes the growth will be as a direct result of the introduction of new product ranges, the development of Yale’s independent dealer network and the success of new pan-European and global account business.
“Yale has steadily increased its independent dealer network throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA),” he says. “We have strengthened our aftermarket service and parts supply programs to ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
“Yale has also restructured its major accounts operation to guarantee the business objectives of its national, pan-European and global account customers are met.”
Ulbricht says Yale’s ultimate success lies in its partnership with dealers. “Providing comprehensive support and working in partnership with our dealers is critical to our success. The Yale distribution network continues to expand and the quality of our products combined with our commitment to customer satisfaction continues to attract new customers and dealers.”
|Obituary: Chris Andrew
|Readers will be saddened to hear of the death of Chris Andrew, who was a familiar figure in the materials handling and flameproof sector for many years. Chris, 59, suffered a heart attack following bypass surgery and died on December 11th.
For the past 10 years, Chris was the UK Product Manager for the German manufacturer Sichelschmidt, and had also worked for Ability Handling and Pyroban.
“Chris was a true expert in his field, an enthusiastic colleague and loyal friend who will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him,” says managing director Ralf Sichelschmidt. “We extend our sincere sympathies to his wife, Judith, and his children.”
|Australian forklift industry holds steady through 2008 and beyond
|By Karen Harverson
The past 12 months have seen unprecedented events unfold around the world, with few people at the beginning of the year able to predict the degree of financial carnage that began in the US and quickly spread to other economies.
As Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said at the Australian Business Economists Annual Dinner in December: “I do not know anyone who predicted this course of events. This should give us cause to reflect on how hard a job it is to make genuinely useful forecasts. What we have seen is truly a ‘tail’ outcome – the kind of outcome that the routine forecasting process never predicts. But it has occurred, it has implications, and so we must reflect on it.”
The Australian forklift industry appears to have got through 2008 relatively unscathed. Some change was inevitable, with a few businesses sinking into insolvency, some parting ways with distributors and a growing trend for customers to lease rather than buy equipment.
Still, many new deals were concluded and the year was good for those companies able to adapt to tighter conditions.
Looking back at some of the stories we reported on in 2008, it was perhaps an early omen of bad times to come when, in January, we reported on the demise of Independent Forklift Services (IFS), which was placed in liquidation following a decision by creditors who’d met the month before.
On a brighter note, Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) once again announced they’d claimed the number one position in the Australian counterbalance forklift market for 2007, an achievement held for the 21st consecutive year.
The company, combining its Toyota Industrial Equipment, BT Lift Trucks and Raymond Forklift brands, sold 4,885 machines in Australia in 2007 for a 28% market share.
In February, we reported on the sale of embattled forklift company Smeaton Forklifts, trading as Budget Forklifts (NSW), which was sold to Statewide Forklifts (NSW).
In March, Ports of Auckland took delivery of the biggest reach-stacker in New Zealand, supplied by Hyster agent Gough’s Forklifts. In the same week, 10 new straddles became fully operational at the port, having been assembled on-site for the previous two months. Supplied by Noell in Wurzburg, Germany, the straddle-carriers cost an estimated NZ$15.8 million.
Still in March, a parting of ways occurred when Australia’s importer and distributor of Nissan forklifts, Powerlift (Nissan), cancelled its previous distribution arrangement with United Equipment (the former Nissan dealer for East Melbourne), while the latter added Caterpillar forklifts to its range of products.
Another split was announced the following month, when Forkliftaction.com News reported on the demise of Red Australia’s 19-year relationship with Jungheinrich. The German forklift manufacturer appointed NTP Forklifts as its new distributor in Australia.
TMHA celebrated its 40th anniversary in the Australian market; and Red Australia announced it would introduce the new range of Komatsu AE50/AM50 counterbalance electrics following an agreement with Komatsu Utility - Japan. Also in April, a new forklift tyre supplier, Solid Plus, launched its services across Australia.
In May, Haulotte Group Australia added a new telehandler range to its suite of access equipment which, thanks to its high ground clearance, can traverse the roughest terrain.
And in New Zealand, materials handling equipment supplier Eurolift NZ was awarded a five-year, “multi-million dollar” contract from dairy giant Fonterra Co-operative Group to supply and service the group’s New Zealand forklifts.
Still in New Zealand, materials handling supplier AB Equipment of Manikau City, Auckland was awarded a contract worth over NZD6 million from meat exporter PPCS to supply, service and manage its forklift truck fleet over a three-year period.
Most still optimistic in May
Good times were still being felt by most companies with a May survey of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Australia by global logistics giant UPS revealing that almost two-thirds believed their companies’ overall prospects for 2008 were better than 2007.
Meanwhile, the third edition of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Private Business Barometer indicated that private businesses remained optimistic about a return to more favourable economic conditions in 2009.
PWC partner Gregory Will said, “The consensus is that the medium- to long-term future looks bright with some unsettled conditions in the short term.”
According to the barometer, funding was the biggest challenge facing private businesses, which were planning fewer investments over the next 12 months.
In June, amid widespread reports of a slowing economy, falling business and consumer confidence and the global credit crunch, Australasia’s forklift industry appeared amazingly upbeat about business prospects.
According to Allen Powell, director (marketing/sales) of Adapt-A-Lift Forklift Rentals and Sales, the company had not experienced any slowdown in business. "If anything, our rental (activity), both contract and casual, has increased significantly, with May one of our biggest contract rental months for the past year."
He added that casual hire had also continued to grow consistently every month for the preceding 11-month period.
"On a national and state level, our quote and participation rate is still strong with no signs of abatement."
Chris Burns, national accounts manager for Powerlift Nissan, told Forkliftaction.com News that the company had not seen a slowing in either order intake or enquiry levels, even though interest rates had gone up significantly over the previous 12 months.
"Indeed, if anything, order intake of new trucks has increased whilst sales of used trucks has remained fairly constant," said Burns.
He added that enquiries from major fleet clients had increased dramatically, commenting that perhaps the wise buyers were getting in and locking in interest rates before further increases.
AB Equipment’s Steve Antunovich told Forkliftaction.com News that the company was certainly not seeing a slowdown in business at that stage.
However, he reported seeing a change in what major customers expected from the company. "For example, more fleet management and KPI reporting; much more communication on their fleet costs; a real proactive input from us as materials handling experts on optimising fleet size and composition, and in minimising risk."
He added that if the expected tightening in the market developed into a recession, past history indicated that some customers would keep their forklifts longer, "meaning more parts and service and short-term rental back-up from us".
Shaun O’Brien, national sales and marketing manager of Red Australia, said the company had not experienced a decline in sales during the fiscal year and its current forecast would remain constant over the short- to mid-term.
Around July, Hoppecke Germany appointed Euro Power Australia Pty Ltd as the new sole distributor for the Oceania region of the full range of Hoppecke motive power batteries, chargers and accessories.
And another economic report, this time by ANZ, pointed out that growth was slowing across the world, inflation was on the rise, asset prices were falling and the reality that addressing climate change would be costly is hitting home.
However, despite the gloom, it said the outlook for Australia was still bright largely due to the rise in commodity prices. Although the country’s economic growth rate would slow quite sharply in 2008/9, it would not be due to global influences but rather the deliberate slowdown engineered by the Reserve Bank to cool inflationary pressures.
It concluded that while there were considerable challenges, it was still a great time to be Australian.
In August, we reported on Australia’s largest single supplier of irrigation, garden and turf care products, Toro Australia, which selected TMHA to provide its counterbalance forklift and reach truck requirements.
The following month, Linde Australia announced that it would launch a new forklift fleet management system that would set it apart from its competitors in terms of the service, pertinent advice and savings it could provide to customers.
And Red Australia announced to the market it would launch the latest internal combustion forklift from Komatsu, the CX50 series.
In October, or “Shocktober” as it became known, following ever more turmoil on the financial fronts, a number of forklift contracts in the wine industry were reported in Forkliftaction.com News.
NTP Forklifts supplied Barossa Valley winery Langmeil with a top quality TCM 7-tonne diesel forklift, while TMHA continued to supply Casella Wines through a lease agreement; and Powerlift Nissan supplied seven forklifts to First Creek Wines of Hunter Valley as part of a rental deal for the winery.
We also covered a major forklift deal secured by Linde, which signed a contract in September to supply materials handling equipment to cold storage and logistics specialist VersaCold Logistics.
The contract involved supplying more than 400 forklifts to the company’s warehouses in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
Still in October, the arrival of the world’s largest passenger jet in Australia, the Airbus A380, resulted in Qantas choosing Manitou Australia to provide a Manitou MRT 2540 Telescopic Handler fitted with a 3m wide, 800kg work basket.
Currency woes or opportunity?
In November, Forkliftaction.com News reported on the impact the falling Australian dollar was having on the local forklift market.
Christine Nolland, national marketing co-ordinator of Linde Material Handling, said prices were being reviewed based on the Australian dollar and material cost factors.
She told Forkliftaction.com News that a tightening of the retail/small business sector was anticipated together with a more cautious approach in the larger business area.
“Determining factors, as we see it, will be the Australian dollar and what develops in the Asian market and local mining sector.”
Wayne Franklin, director of Calmat, said the company was being conservative on stock purchases at that time due to the weak currency and the general economic conditions.
“We are fortunate that we have short lead times from our suppliers, so we are able to quote ex-factory at the current exchange rate with a currency variation clause.
“I feel confident that the Australian dollar will bounce back shortly, so any stock purchased now will be very expensive, if and when we get a recovery.”
General manager of NYK Forklifts, Phil Singleton, said “the fact that we purchase our equipment in American dollars from Japanese sources has resulted in our purchasing power being vastly eroded”.
“Therefore, to maintain our small margins, we have no choice but to increase our selling prices on new stock.”
He told Forkliftaction.com News that it looked like Australia might enter a recession in the first quarter of 2009 due to a possible second quarter of negative growth.
However, on an optimistic note, Singleton felt the market would start to recover “mid to end of the second quarter of 2009”.
John Cowpe, Exide Australasia general manager, said the effect of the weakened Australian dollar forced companies to daily review inventory levels, debtors and pricing.
He added that he envisaged the current market conditions to continue into early 2009. “Our business will continue to monitor market conditions whilst offering a high level of customer service to our customers.”
But some companies took the currency battering in their stride. John Watts, business development manager of Barrier Security Products, told Forkliftaction.com News that the company was trying to increase the range of its products made in Australia to avoid any dollar fluctuation woes.
“Our sales have continued to increase over the past five years at an average of 33% and the month of October 2008 was up 13% on our previous best.”
Still in November, NTP Forklifts Australia, local distributor for battery-electric TCM Corporation forklifts, announced the launch of its new 8-series reach truck.
In December, Adapt-A-Lift was appointed as forklift and materials handling supplier to AWB company, Landmark. The forklift fleet management agreement will see Landmark replace its current materials handling equipment with a fleet of new equipment at over 250 sites across Australia.
Forecasts for 2009
So what does 2009 hold for the Australian forklift industry? Given the speed at which economies across the world have unravelled over the past 12 months, leaving professional ‘forecasters’ and analysts gobsmacked, only some players were willing to go on the record.
EMC, manufacturer and distributor of forklift attachments, fork-arms and spare parts, will be looking to 2009 to consolidate its double-digit growth over the past five years, as well as focus on providing better service.
Managing director Stefan Marschner tells Forkliftaction.com News that the company’s acquisition of forklift manufacturer Sattach and gaining exclusive distributorship of CWS/IMAC tyre manipulators were the main highlights of 2008.
He believes the forklift industry may flatten somewhat in 2009 with a shift in focus to more ‘repair and maintenance’ to supplement lost income from decreased forklift sales, although he believes the larger end users will continue to supply their operations with new equipment.
Marschner says government could help ease the burden on companies by cutting taxes, particularly with regard to payroll tax which currently does not encourage businesses to hire or even retain staff in tough economic conditions.
NTP Forklifts Australia, whose most significant development in 2008 was becoming the official distributor for Jungheinrich forklifts, says this distributorship has allowed the company to break into the warehousing segment of the market. “We will continue to focus on that area of the market going into 2009 as we see significant growth opportunities,” says NTP marketing manager Tom Naffine.
Orbit Communications, which supplies proximity alert systems to the forklift industry, anticipates its new BodyGuard vehicle and personnel system will be offered at point of sale of the forklift across the country in 2009.
Managing director David Huisman says while there are challenges ahead economically, it makes sense for companies to continue to improve their safety processes and controls because the cost of downtime in particular will be higher as some companies attempt to operate with less staff.
Despite the general slowdown, Huisman says his company has, in fact, grown over the period.
Another positive forecaster for 2009 is technology innovator Peacock Bros. which recently developed a first–of-its-kind forklift-mounted RFID pallet solution combined with a real-time indoor vehicle positioning solution and integration to a warehouse management system.
The solution has already won multiple awards this year for innovation and productivity improvement.
Craig McKenzie, strategic marketing co-ordinator, tells Forkliftaction.com News that 2009 will see an increased interest in technology enhancements within the forklift or forklift user industry. “The forklift industry rarely had a technology representation where this now has become a significant aspect.”
“The days of a simple low-tech forklift are numbered. Businesses today need more from their capital investment including both forklift and driver. Solutions such as ours dramatically increase the performance and capabilities of a warehouse operation and at a time where every dollar counts, this will be part of required criteria when businesses seek to utilise or purchase forklifts.”
He says forklift manufacturers are already considering offering this type of technology as an option with any new forklift purchase in 2009.
McKenzie says governments need to provide more financial and incentive support for companies that are developing application enhancing systems onto forklifts. “To research and develop these new technologies, the costs in both manpower and dollars are enormous and yet it is only through increasing the productivity of forklifts that many operations will remain profitable in these hard economic times.”
“What we have developed is only the tip of the iceberg, we are already exploring more aspects of other technology advances, involving a huge commitment on our part to pursue and bring to market. Australian businesses need more advanced solutions to make them more competitive and viable, and government needs to commit larger resources to what has become a critical issue.”
McKenzie says any slowdown experienced by the company has only occurred within sales that involve standard solutions. “Peacock Bros. has committed to provide innovative next-step solutions, which will help our customers get through any slow down they experience and these solutions are very sellable in this type of business climate.”
On 2009, TMHA general manager sales and marketing Steve Takacs comments that there will be a softening of the Australian forklift market, particularly in the area of purchases of material handling equipment of the AUD100,000 or less mark.
“However, large corporate customers … will continue on an equipment replacement programme as their needs dictate.”
Takacs tells Forkliftaction.com News that the recent moves by government in terms of additional Australian infrastructure development will help keep economic activity on track.
“The lowering of interest rates will also assist, and the government should look to see what it can do to improve Australia’s manufacturing industry, which seems to be going through a rough trot.
“However, it is important that we stay positive about our economic circumstances, as, compared to some other countries, Australia seems somewhat better placed to ride out this global economic uncertainty.
“For TMHA it is business as usual. We are structuring our operations to cater for all our customers, and are particularly focusing on big business customers at the present time. Our fully owned branch network will allow us to adapt to any market softening accordingly. We can shift resources across our branches as required so as to ensure efficiencies are maintained in the event of any slowdown.
“We also believe that in these (uncertain economic) times, smaller material handling players will fall by the wayside, with the larger players left to aggressively pursue all sales opportunities.
“TMHA is also working a lot more closely with the other Toyota Group Companies – Toyota automotive, Hino trucks and Toyota Finance - and establishing cooperative relationships in order to maximise all sales opportunities.
“We are very fortunate that the Toyota family is built upon a platform of high quality, reliable products, and synergistic teamwork between all Toyota Group companies (which) will help maintain our sales objectives during any slow down.”
Ben Rainsford, CEO of Task Australia, says a big development for the company in 2008 was the release of its Pedestrian counterbalance truck with power steering - the SUMI COBRA - which has had an excellent takeup in the market.
“We have also seen real penetration into the US market which was traditionally difficult to access but due to the Australian currency weakening, we now have a great advantage with our equipment being made in Australia, which has proved positive against a tightening local market.
“We have achieved our predicted growth in our hire-fleet contracts as customers shy away from asset purchases when the credit market is more difficult.”
He adds that the market has shown an increased awareness of the walkie product. “Walkies are environmentally friendly and don’t require a full- time operator and these factors have pushed the numbers up during the year.”
For 2009, Rainsford expects the market to slow compared to the previous three years, “although we’re still achieving our sales targets based on value”. In times like this, says Rainsford, customers typically take longer to make decisions with regards to capital equipment and are demanding more value “so we see our hire-fleet business increasing as well as an increase in our service contracts as customers look to get an extra few years out of existing equipment rather than replace it”.
On dealing with any slowdown, Rainsford says: “Task Australia is now in its 27th year and we’ve seen similar cycles like this occurring. We find that focusing on our hire fleet business and servicing usually sees us through any downturn and, of course, the fact that we have no competition in Australia for products like our SUMI BOA legless stacker, means we have a point of difference to our customers.
“We are placing extra effort into our USA and Asian business as the recent currency devaluation has given us a real opportunity in these areas.”
Heli Forklifts NZ director Steve Mackay says 2008 saw the establishment of Heli’s new green series in New Zealand, and the establishment of AC technology in both three- and four-wheel counterbalance trucks.
He notes an “increased acceptance of Chinese product by both users and dealers (who) now recognise the value for money compared to other brands”.
Mackay says the impact of the change in exchange rates has not really impacted on buyers yet because dealers are still selling old stock. “The combination of higher prices (driven by exchange rates) with a weaker economy will make our Heli product very attractive compared with Japanese equivalents during 2009.”
He believes the government should be doing more to stimulate manufacturing in New Zealand. “We have seen a big decline in the percentage of manufacturers who buy our products.”
But he remains confident despite the slowdown. “We believe that our company gets stronger during a slower economy. During tough times we focus on quality and efficiencies. When there are fewer deals to win, everybody works extra hard to secure the business.”
Nichiyu Forklifts substantially improved its distribution network and national coverage with the establishment of the Nichiyu Premium Dealer network during 2008.
The network now numbers 15 dealers Australia-wide with further dealers to be appointed during 2009.
“Our expanded presence in the marketplace has paid off, with Nichiyu achieving almost double the sales volume in 2008 compared to 2007,” says Nichiyu Forklifts sales manager Craig Coles.
“Given that the global economic crisis has yet to really bite, it is inevitable that capital equipment purchases will fall during 2009, but to what extent is anyone’s guess.”
Coles tells Forkliftaction.com News that the Australian forklift market dropped by around 25% in October when the severity of the economic slowdown became apparent, but bounced back again in November to be just 8% down on the same time last year.
“Australia’s economy has always shown great resilience during other tough economic times. My own feeling is that while the overall market may contract 15 to 20%, it will bounce back strongly once the current economic situation settles down.”
Coles believes the best thing the government can do for business is to support the value of the Australian dollar. “Since the Aussie dollar has fallen from 98 US cents to the low 60s, importers are now paying up to 30% more for purchases in US dollars. The situation is even worse for importers purchasing stock in Japanese Yen, which has dropped more than 40% from a high of 105 to a low of 55 in recent weeks.”
He says the Australian forklift market is one of the most competitive in the world, and already operating on slim margins, so importers will have little choice but to pass on the increased costs to customers.
“We are hopeful the government’s economic initiatives will help stabilise the Australian economy and return the Australian dollar to a realistic and sustainable value of around 75-85 US cents. This would allow pricing to return to pre-crisis levels.”
Coles believes the market for battery-electric forklifts will improve in 2009 even though the rest of the market may not.
“The overall market for battery-electric materials handling equipment increased by about 10% in 2008. With the recent surge in fuel prices, we certainly found more gas truck users contemplating the switch to battery-electric forklifts.
“The average forklift burns through over AUD5,000 a year in LPG, and much more for petrol and diesel models. A battery-electric is normally more expensive than a gas truck, but the price basically includes the cost of the first five years’ fuel!
“With gas trucks incurring operating costs of more than AUD5,000 a year, it doesn’t take long for the battery-electric solution to come out on top, even with fuel prices returning to more sensible levels. Environmental and OH&S concerns are also driving the switch to battery-electric materials handling solutions for many users.”
Online auctioneer GraysOnline has seen consolidation in the forklift industry in 2008, with over 500 forklifts sold online.
“We expect 2009 will be a fairly difficult year for the forklift industry,” PR manager Blanche Wilke tells Forkliftaction.com News. “We anticipate that there will be an even larger amount of excess forklifts not being sold or hired out.”
Grays expects more stock to be offered for sale on its website in the year ahead.
In order to sell increased numbers of forklifts in 2009, the company will be looking to attract more buyers. “We have and will continue to invest significant amounts of money in developing our database of forklift buyers. We do this with a combination of online advertising such as search and banner ads and the more traditional forms of advertising such as print magazines.”
The implications of the past year’s events are still unfolding, and their full impact on Australia has not yet been measured. According to Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens, we are now in a period when the essential nature of events is not so much a crisis in the financial system. “It is a crisis of confidence on the part of households and businesses, and it is global in nature.”
With government moving swiftly to strengthen the economy, 2009 may not be as bleak as once thought.
In December, the Australian government announced a AUD4.7 billion nation-building package in the form of investment in road, rail and education infrastructure, as well as vital tax changes to help local businesses during a global recession.
As Stevens notes, Australia has a pretty good record overall of responding to the need for change, especially in times of adversity, and there is no reason we should not maintain that record. “We do have reasonable grounds for some quiet confidence about the future, however bad the storm at present may be.”
So while the data confirms that there is an international downturn taking place, and that it shows every sign of being a deeper one than 2001, the forklift industry remains quietly confident.
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1. BAU 2009
12-17 January 2009
2. ProMat 2009
Chicago, United States
12th to 15th January 2009
1. Operations/Branch Management - Full time
St. Louis, United States2. Equipment Sales, Product Support Sales - Full time
Nashville, TN USA, United States3. Branch Manager, Service Manager or Product Support Representative - Full time
Southeast, United States4. Fork Lift Mechanic - Full time
Open. Will need relocation loan., United States5. Crane Designer & Fabrication/Material Handling Senior Engineer - Full time
Anywhere, Australia6. Small Management or Technician - Full time
Relocating is not out of the question., United States7. Parts Manager/Government Sales - Full time
open, United States8. Regional Sales Manager or General Manager - Full time
Western United States, United States9. Purchasing - Full time
anywhere, United States
Editorial Calendar 2009
Rough Terrain forklifts
Safety products in MH
Forklift Market in Canada
Forklift Market in the United Kingdom
Fleet & Asset management
Narrow Aisle forklifts
Forklift batteries and power solutions
Forklift Market in India