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|There’s more red ink this week as manufacturers report slow sales and there are further accounts of lay-offs and production rationalisation. Luckily, most of the major players still have some buffer after a few solid growth years, and there’s no doubt that some restructuring was probably necessary. In boom times, any business decision seems to be a good one, but it takes adversity to bring about real change. The challenge now will be to ensure that businesses are recovery-ready – and able to turn on the taps when demand picks up. It’s a balance between short-term pain and long-term gain.|
|Cascade cuts in Europe, reports lower sales |
Fairview, OR, United States
|Attachments manufacturer Cascade Corp is trimming certain European manufacturing operations in the midst of a decline in global economic conditions and a weak forklift market.|
Cascade moved in March to close a fork manufacturing facility in La Machine, France and in May “initiated discussions with the local works council at our facility in Almere, the Netherlands, regarding our intention to cease production operations,” says Robert E Warren, Cascade president and chief executive officer. “We estimate the cost for the Almere restructuring to be in the range of USD8 million to USD10 million” over several upcoming fiscal quarters.
“Our current plans are to continue to maintain sales and certain administrative functions and our European parts depot in the Netherlands and shift production capacity to other Cascade facilities,” the company says in a filing. “We intend to continue to provide a full-range of products to our European customers.”
Warren notes that Cascade intends to use the steps in France and the Netherlands and other changes to make “our European business profitable as we come out of the current downturn”.
He predicts that the European market may rebound slower from the recession than the markets in North America and Asia. Cascade aims to move its manufacturing work in France and the Netherlands “to lower cost sources—North America, Asia and Italy” with the expectation “to get some advantage late in the year (2009) and certainly for next year”, Warren says.
For the first quarter ended 30 April, Cascade says its consolidated net sales decreased 44% excluding the impact of foreign currency changes of USD7.2 million. Including those changes, the drop was 49% to USD76.3 million from USD149.9 million in the comparable quarter last year.
Cascade recorded USD4.8 million for European restructuring costs, primarily as a result of the France closure, which logged worker severance payments of USD3.8 million. By comparison, Cascade had USD320,000 in restructuring costs for the same quarter last year.
Cascade went from a profit of USD10.9 million in last year’s first quarter to a loss of USD12.1 million in the latest quarter.
Cascade employs 1,900 persons who work in 27 facilities in 16 countries and produce devices that allow forklifts to carry, position and deposit loads.
Effective 12 June, Cascade changes its ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange to CASC from CAE to more closely relate to the company’s name and to “eliminate some confusion we have experienced with a public company in Canada whose name matched our old ticker symbol”, Cascade says.
|Study finds UK forklift market stagnant |
Stockton, United Kingdom
|The UK forklift market is showing no overall growth compared to growth of almost 7% at this time last year, a Plimsoll study says.|
Plimsoll Publishing has just released a study which it claims is “the first snapshot of how the forklift market is changing due to the UK economic slowdown”. It surveyed the UK’s top 483 forklift companies, based on their latest financial performance.
The study found the economic slowdown is impacting over a quarter of UK’s forklift companies. Meanwhile, about a third of those surveyed have been “largely unaffected”, maintaining their margins with some even increasing sales.
There is a gap between the companies’ performance: 103 have had their sales decline, some by about 16%, while 225 companies have seen sales increase, some by about 15%.
Plimsoll senior analyst David Pattison says the recession “seems to have accelerated a shift in the market”.
“Some companies have clearly been affected by those that have swapped to low-cost alternatives or by the loss of a key client. Others are clearly benefiting from this move,” Pattison says.
According to the study, overall profitability is slim, with most companies reporting profits of less than 2%.
A total of 241 companies have seen their profits declining, with one in four currently losing money, while 242 companies have increased profits and some report margins of over 5%.
“The recession has been a good thing for a number of companies. It has sharpened their management and improved the accountability of the directors, so much so that these reorganisations are already leading to an increase in profitability,” Pattison adds.
Neville Bowman-Shaw, chairman of Samuk HC, says in the company’s newsletter that new forklift orders placed by UK dealers and national accounts in January 2009 had fallen to 50% of the volume in January 2008. By April 2009, the orders had increased to 55% of the orders placed at the same time last year.
But the good news, Bowman-Shaw says, is that “all of us can expect a profitable rocky climb back to the 2008 level over two or three years, depending on the success of the worldwide financial activities of many governments”.
The Plimsoll study, priced at GBP350 (USD570.85) + VAT, is available by calling Clair Sherwood-Parkin on +44 1642 626 422. Forkliftaction.com News readers can quote this article to get a 10% discount.
|Clark programs gets dealers’ attention |
Lexington, KY, United States
|Clark Material Handling Co has enhanced an aftermarket parts/new equipment financing/forklift sales package that was introduced to dealers in February.|
Including wholesale and retail initiatives, “these 17 programs are designed to support the sales, service and parts divisions of authorised Clark dealers,” says Scott Johnson, director of dealer services with Clark in Lexington. “We have a deliberate and planned approach to the balance of 2009, and we continue to execute those elements that we believe will bring mutual success to Clark and its family of distributors.”
The programs have been praised by certain Clark dealers in the Mid-South, New York and California.
“I am glad I am in a foxhole with Clark,” says Mike Sain, vice president of Material Handling Inc (MHI), characterising the core February program as “very comprehensive”.
Family-owned and -operated MHI employs 88 people and has locations in Dalton and Gainesville, Georgia; Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee; and Bowling Green, Kentucky (Forkliftaction.com News #364).
“Clark runs its business with the same intention and integrity that our family tries to run MHI,” Sain notes. “Clark, to me, is doing things that are helpful to help dealers in these tough times.”
MHI sells and services equipment from Clark, Linde, Princeton and, in some markets, Komatsu.
The Clark stimulus program is “extremely meaningful” to New York-based multi-line dealer Infiniti Handling Systems (IHS) and “all inclusive for mechanics and sales and service” personnel, says Baron Selman, IHS vice president of sales and marketing. “The June revisions made (the program) better.”
IHS was formed in 1997, employs 50, has sites in Middletown and Garden City, New York and sells and services equipment for the Clark (initially in June 2008), Doosan, Nissan, Genie, Barrett and Motrec brands. Clark has been aggressive on deals and financing and “can make decisions based on the American market”, Selman notes.
Clark is “being very aggressive with dealers to go out and get deals,” says Mark Maechling, president of Cal-Lift Inc in its consolidated new location in City of Industry, California (Forkliftaction.com News #402).
Maechling terms Clark managers “relentless,” calls the February offering “a pretty big program with so many components” and sees the June update as “tweaking” some elements involving parts, service and sales.
In its geographic market, Cal-Lift has exclusive representation of Clark (initially in September 2008), Taylor and Ottawa brands and shared dealings for the Mitsubishi and Linde brands. Cal-Lift was formed in 1964 and employs 75.
|Strong interest in Chinese shows |
|Despite the current economic crisis, organisers for concurrently running shows CeMAT Asia and PTC Asia are optimistic about exhibitor registration numbers and expected visitor turnouts.|
Deutsche Messe, which is co-organising both events with Hannover Fairs China, anticipates a total of 1,350 exhibitors occupying about 30,000sqm (322,916sqft) of display space for PTC Asia.
“Around two-thirds of the available space had already been rented by mid-May, 25% ahead of the comparable period in 2007,” Deutsche Messe says in a statement.
For CeMAT Asia, organisers expect 360 exhibitors in 10,000sqm (107,639sqft) of display space. The registration rate for CeMAT Asia is “substantially ahead” of last year.
Andreas Gruchow, member of Deutsche Messe’s managing board, says the response to the company’s Shanghai exhibitions is a “highly positive signal” for the industry and a “clear counter-trend to the sustained global economic recession”.
“This development gives us hope for an improved situation. Both the power transmission/fluid power sectors as well as materials handling are benefiting strongly from the Chinese government’s stimulus package,” Gruchow says.
He adds that, as a result, foreign providers and their products continue to be in demand.
China’s economic stimulus program calls for a CNY1.5 trillion (EUR155 billion) investment in the expansion of its infrastructure. Gruchow says industry observers are expecting domestic demand for materials handling equipment to increase.
In 2008, China’s imports of materials handling equipment grew 22.3% to reach nearly USD3.8 billion. Meanwhile, it ranked third behind Germany and the US with an export volume of about USD9.17 million in materials handling equipment.
CeMAT Asia and PTC Asia will be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre on 26-29 October.
Deutsche Messe has also announced that it will be staging CeMAT Middle East together with Industrial Automation Middle East and Motion, Drive & Automation Middle East at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on 9-11 February 2010.
|Grammer announces new CEO |
|Grammer AG board member Hartmurt Mϋller has been selected to succeed Rolf-Dieter Kempis as CEO in August next year. |
The announcement was made at the company’s AGM in Amberg on 28 May.
Mϋller, 45, has been a board member in charge of Grammer’s seating systems division since 2007. Before joining Grammer, he was general manager for North and Eastern Europe, climate control, for Valeo. Mϋller has over 20 years’ experience in the automotive sector.
The AGM focused on cost rationalisation measures to combat the global financial crisis. After a proposal by the executive and supervisory boards, shareholders resolved to suspend payment of a dividend for fiscal year 2008 to strengthen the company’s equity.
Sales for Grammer’s seating systems division grew 7.4% from EUR363.3 million (USD510.8 million) in fiscal year 2007 to EUR390 million (USD548.4 million) in fiscal year 2008. Strong sales growth in South America and Europe was attributed to its market leadership position. While the construction machinery market collapsed in the third quarter of 2008, Grammer says there was strong growth in the off-road agricultural machinery market.
Off-road equipment made up 57% of sales for the 2008 fiscal year, with truck and bus 30%, railway 8% and others contributing 5%.
Group revenue increased 0.9% from EUR998.1 million (USD1,404.0 million) to EUR1,007 million (USD1,416 million) in fiscal year 2008, compared to fiscal year 2007, while after-tax profit declined 19.9% from EUR17.6 million (USD24.8 million) to EUR14.1 million (USD19.8 million).
By the end of 2008, the total number of employees had decreased 6.5% from 9,527 to 8,908. According to Grammer’s March 31 2009 analyst conference presentation, there were 6,307 Grammer employees outside Germany on 31 December 2008. After further layoffs this year, that number declined to about 5,000. As for Germany, on 31 December 2008, there were 2,601 employees but that number now stands at about 2,200.
Besides reducing headcount, Grammer has employed other measures to cope with its drop in orders. It has shut down its Greenville, US plant and transferred production to Horazdovice, Czech Republic; significantly reduced expenses and stopped or postponed investments; implemented “short time work” at all German locations including its headquarters since January; and reduced overtime for employees.
|Kanoo wins contract to supply telehandlers |
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
|Kanoo Machinery has won a AED4.2 million (USD1.1 million) contract to supply 12 Bobcat telehandlers to Pexi Gulf.|
According to Mohammed Al-Hashimi, regional manager of the company’s export department, the deal is a result of the company’s expansion into the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“Our export department is expanding its wings and has started developing new business in Asia and Africa as well,” Al-Hashimi explains.
“The deal with Pexi Gulf is a result of our team’s hard work to make inroads into newer markets,” he adds.
Pexi Gulf supplies vehicles, equipment and parts to government agencies and private contractors internationally. It will re-export the Bobcat telehandlers to Asia.
“We are confident Pexi Gulf’s customers in Asia will be satisfied with the speed and efficiency of these world-class machines,” Al-Hashimi says.
Kanoo Machinery is supplying Bobcat T2556 telehandlers to Pexi Gulf and offering after-sales support, maintenance and training to operate the machines.
Kanoo Machinery’s export department operates through its reseller partner network in the Middle East and Africa. It aims to develop further business from CIS countries as part of its marketing strategy, Al-Hashimi says.
Kanoo Machinery, established over 40 years ago, represents equipment and component manufacturers like Bobcat, Hyster, Hiab, Perkins and Massey Ferguson in the Gulf. The equipment distributor has won the Dubai Quality Award 2004 and the Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Gold Award.
|Seafood container topples, fatally injures worker|
Fall River, MA, United States
|A packing container loaded with clams and ice fell from an elevated forklift and struck production worker Justin Cordeiro, 20, on the head, inflicting fatal injuries, say Fall River police.|
A forklift operator for Blount Seafood Corporation was removing two containers from the top of a stack in the soup production area and backing out when a container toppled off and hit Cordeiro, a resident of New Bedford, Massachusetts on 3 June.
Emergency respondents took Cordeiro to Charlton Memorial Hospital and then Rhode Island Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The family-owned company closed the Fall River plant temporarily and pledged to assist police and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the investigation.
Under the Blount Fine Foods brand and private labels, the company produces refrigerated and frozen gourmet soups for food service and retail establishments and also makes clam meat products and breaded seafood.
|Materials Handling Middle East 2009 lauded “successful” |
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
|Exhibitors say the Materials Handling Middle East 2009 trade show that ended last week had a good turnout of quality visitors from the Middle East, Africa, India and CIS regions.|
Held from May 31 to June 2 at the Dubai International Convention Centre, the exhibition showcased materials handling, logistics and freight handling equipment, and machinery and tools used in the warehousing and manufacturing industries.
TVH Middle East territory manager Sanjoy Roychoudhury tells Forkliftaction.com News that Dubai, the region’s leading trade hub, is “the perfect venue” for the exhibition.
“Our clients from the Middle East, Near East and South and West Asia visited our stand. We are satisfied with the show and have introduced our wide product range to most of the attendees,” Roychoudhury says.
Logsquare, a tie-up with Gebhardt Group from Germany, displayed conveyor transportation and auto storage equipment for cartons and pallets. The company also exhibited a robotic arm for use in the manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, automotive, consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, clothing and food industries.
Jacques Adem, Logsquare’s executive director, says visitors were interested in the new technology.
“We have received enquiries from as far as Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and a number of these inquiries are serious and we will be following up these business leads generated.”
At the Made in Germany pavilion, SSI Schaefer showed off its A-frame automated picking machine. Spokesman Carsten Spiegelberg says the machine is versatile and can be used to sort different products in an assembly line and track them electronically.
“The machine is ideal for packaged items in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, tobacco and stationery industries. It can store 30 modules and up to 2,000 different product lines,” he says
Muneer Chan Basha, FAMCO’s sales engineer, says the trade show had “good quality visitors”. The company exhibited a complete range of storage and handling solutions, and overhead conveyors for use in the textile industry that is used by Marks & Spencer, Zara and Next.
Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al Bahar, a Caterpillar machinery and power systems supplier in the Middle East, had a special 18-ton forklift display at the show, which the company says attracted attention and enquiries.
Elisabeth Brehl, managing director of the show organiser EPOC Messe Frankfurt GmbH, says: “In an economic downturn when economic budgets limit marketing spend, participating in a trade exhibition still remains to be a top choice for most of the large, medium and even small-sized companies, in order to maintain their standing in front of customers.”
EPOC Messe Frankfurt GmbH is a subsidiary of Messe Frankfurt, Germany’s largest trade fair organiser, with EUR436 million (USD613 million) in sales in 2008 and over 1,400 employees worldwide. The Messe Frankfurt Group has a presence in over 150 countries. It organised over 100 trade shows, of which more than half took place outside Germany, in 2008.
Materials Handling Middle East 2009 was held under the royal patronage of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman of Dubai Airports and chief executive and chairman of Emirates Group.
|Expose your business with a Forkliftaction.com ShopFront!|
|The ShopFront is your company’s showroom in one of the busiest business portals on the internet. Check out its capabilities with these examples (click a link below to view the ShopFront):|
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• Manufacturers of dock and warehouse equipment, Texas – USA
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• High quality materials handling equipment, Australia
• Aftermarket and OEM forklift parts – Australia
• Identification systems and supplies, Australia & New Zealand
• Fleet management and forklift hire, Australia
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|New Products |
|SCA Packaging and MSE-Forks develop new pallet|
Eh Eerbeek, Netherlands
SCA Packaging Nederland BV and MSE-Forks have developed a European-patented cardboard pallet that is an alternative to wood, plastic and other cardboard pallets.
The RollerForks Flex-Pallet is about 35mm (1.4 inches) thin, enabling more goods to be transported, takes up less space in storage and transport, can be used on conveyor belts, is lightweight and hence ideal for air freight, and completely recyclable.
In 2003, MSE-Forks received the Dutch Logistica prize for its innovative RollerForks. By placing goods on a slipsheet, the RollerForks can easily roll along underneath the load. However, not all loads are suitable for RollerForks, which led to MSE-Forks and SCA Packaging developing a new cardboard pallet that is suitable.
Lifter launches counterbalanced trucks
Casole, D’ Elsa, Italy
Following the launch of its RTX reach trucks (Forkliftaction.com News #412), Lifter is introducing the FLX series electric, diesel and LPG counterbalanced forklifts.
The electric counterbalanced forklifts with load capacities from 1.8 to 3 tons come in three or four wheels, Grammer suspension seats and three fully-programmable driving modes.
The four-wheeled diesel and LPG forklifts with load capacities from 2.5 to 3.5 tons have Yanmar diesel engines or Mitsubishi gasoline engines, and Grammer suspension seats.
Mitsubishi adds to low-level order picker series
Reading, United Kingdom
Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks has introduced the OPB20NE low-level order picker.
According to Mitsubishi, the new order picker’s modern styling and white LED lighting makes it stand out from all other models in its OPBN and OPBLN series.
It also claims that new developments in the forklift give it a 20% efficiency advantage over competitors. The operator’s walk-through compartment has a 40% increase in space which, Mitsubishi claims, is “the market’s biggest operator platform”. This has been achieved by placing the battery behind the compartment instead of in front of the operator.
|Sample of used equipment for sale:||Search 5238 listings in the Marketplace|
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|Konecranes decides on layoffs|
After statutory negotiations, Konecranes Service Corporation will permanently lay off 10 employees. Details of the reductions will be available in the coming weeks.
During negotiations, the parties also agreed on temporary layoffs, the extent of which will depend on the company’s work load.
Konecranes Standard Lifting Corporation and Konecranes Service Corporation started statutory negotiations on 18 March while Konecranes Heavy Lifting Corporation started on 18 May (Forkliftaction.com News #412).
Canada hosts fuel cell event
Canada showcased its leadership in the commercialisation of hydrogen and fuel cell technology at Hydrogen + Fuel Cells 2009.
Over 1,000 international delegates attended the event last week at the newly designed Vancouver Convention Centre. The conference featured international experts profiling the latest developments in research, business and government policy.
“There is increasing momentum behind the commercial adoption of this technology, propelling the growth of an industry that provides high-value green jobs,” says John Tak, event chairman.
JLG launches newsletter
McConnellsburg, PA, United States
JLG Industries has announced the debut of its new quarterly online newsletter, The JobSite.
Launched in April and delivered to customers, the newsletter is designed to provide the latest on JLG equipment, industry information, tips and general insights to help customers be successful.
The JobSite will also include new equipment application information, industry trends and tips for improving operating income.
Visit www.jlg.com for a copy of the e-newsletter.
Haulotte Group BilJax holds lunch for charity
Archbold, OH, United States
Haulotte Group BilJax held a hot dog luncheon for its employees last month to raise money for local food banks, the Archbold Food Pantry and the Fayette Food Pantry.
“We heard the Fayette Food Pantry is fairly new and struggling a little bit,” says Lyle Fogerty, Haulotte Group BilJax plant manager in Archbold. “Any money raised helps. Fifty dollars raised is 100 cans of food that can help stock the food bank shelves,” he adds.
The company also held a lunch to raise money for a kids’ charity last Christmas.
|Forklift operator hoists minivan, faces charges |
Cameron Country, TX, United States
|Authorities have arrested operator Don Uzzell, 77, after his forklift suspended a minivan with three occupants up to nine feet (2.7 m) off the ground for almost one hour.|
The Cameron County sheriff’s department charged Uzzell, a resident of Brownsville, Texas, with two counts of unlawful restraint, two counts of deadly conduct and one count of child endangerment.
Lt Carlos Garza has shared the department findings including details about an altercation, the trapped victims’ screaming for help from inside the vehicle and the unorthodox Toyota forklift use.
The 1 June incident report says Erica Molina, 34, drove to a scrap yard to sell some metal, but someone else at the Used Machinery site made a claim on the same material. That unidentified male and Molina’s boyfriend, Jesus Mazariegos, 23, engaged in a dispute.
“Uzzell cornered them with a forklift in an attempt to detain them,” the sheriff’s report says. Uzzell did so by “keeping them there against their will and finally not allowing them to leave after he lifted the (maroon Ford Windstar) van into the air”.
.The couple’s son, Jesus Mazariegos Jr, 2, was sitting in the rear seat. “Erica stated that because of the van being lifted and remaining in the air, her child was placed in imminent danger of injury or death if the van would fall,” the report says.
Instability of the minivan on the forklift tines prompted authorities to use a second forklift to temporarily steady the raised vehicle. A rescue crew from the Brownsville fire department brought the three safely to the ground but not before a local television news crew captured the incident for the station’s viewing audience.
|Meet the Forkliftaction.com team at Queensland Materials Handling Show: Tues 16 – Thurs 18 June 2009|
|Forkliftaction.com will be at Queensland 2009 Materials Handling Show with a stand and we’re keen to meet up with members and advertisers. |
It is the place to feel the heartbeat of our industry right here in Australia and Forkliftaction.com will be attending to experience the atmosphere first hand. If you plan to attend this international event from 16-18 June 2009 in Brisbane, Australia, feel welcome to drop in for a chat: Hall 1, stand no. K30 - just look out for the bright orange signs!
Come and see us to talk about the show, your news, our range of marketing options or anything related to materials handling. We’re keen to hear what you think about our portal and newsletter and would welcome any suggestions. We’d also like to see if there’s anything else we can do to help you more.
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|Pallet packager still loyal to Nissan |
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
|South Australian packaging company Palltec relies on forklifts from Powerlift Nissan to enable it to transport over 100 million glass bottles on pallets to Australasian wine producers.|
The company recently traded in two LX Series Nissans for two new 1F Series forklifts after three years of heavy use.
According to Palltec chairman Norm Harrison, the company saved thousands of dollars through the interchangeability of the customised options from model to model.
“Safety is our number one priority and due to the potential dangers associated with glass, we had customised 1.8 metre high load guard cages fitted to the front of the LX Series forklifts, along with safety glass windscreens and toughened Lexon roof panels with extra protection bars – all of which is able to be retro-fitted to the new 1F Series forklifts by Powerlift Nissan’s technicians.
“With the new 1F Series forklifts, we’ve gone for gas power and a 2.5 tonne lift capacity again, but this time we’ve gone with three-stage 5.5 metre masts in order to (stack six) pallets in our 18,000 square metre warehouse.
“On performance, based on Nissan’s new engine management system, the 1F Series forklifts deliver considerable improvements in gas consumption, responsiveness, noise and exhaust emissions.”
He adds that the new forklifts include features such as a speed limiting function that reduces speed, wear and tear and the risk of accidents; auto shut-off transmission and mast-lock if the operator leaves the seat; and a soft-landing feature that reduces the chance of breakage.
|New CEO for NZ forklift supplier |
Manukau City, New Zealand
|Peter Dudson, newly appointed CEO of New Zealand-based materials handling supplier AB Equipment, plans to reconfigure the company to make it leaner and more customer-focused.|
“We expect new equipment sales to be flat this year off a relatively low base. Growth thereafter depends on government infrastructure spending, interest rates and the currency, but we are expecting to see growth in our parts and services revenues.”
According to Dudson, the weakness in the currency last year resulted in significant cost increases on imported equipment that had to be passed on to clients in the form of higher prices.
“The relative strengthening of the (NZ) currency in the last month has taken some pressure off prices, but our clients remain in a difficult position with less work and reduced access to finance. Since they are less likely to buy new equipment, we will be focusing on providing them with the best after-sales experience possible.”
Dudson prefers a decentralised approach to business and will provide the branches with more autonomy. He believes this will allow them to offer their customers better service that is tailored to their specific needs.
While positioning the company to take advantage of future growth beyond the current economic downturn, Dudson sees opportunity and untapped potential at present.
“The mix of market-leading products in combination with its wholly owned national sales, parts and service provides an excellent opportunity for the company to present a coordinated sales and after-sales experience that will be second to none.”
|Major challenges still ahead |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Major challenges still lie ahead despite Australia managing to avoid recession for now, according to the latest business expectations survey from Dun & Bradstreet.|
Employment, sales and profit expectations have all improved but capital investment confidence is continuing on a downward trend, with a net 11% of executives anticipating a need to decrease spending in this area. Likewise, expectations for inventory growth are at the lowest level since the 1991 recession, signalling that executives are not yet planning to increase existing stock levels.
This reflects March quarter results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which reveal that business investment tumbled by 6.1%.
Expectations for employment have made a small upward movement but are still extremely low, with 24% of firms expecting to cut back on staff.
Almost two in three (63%) firms expect that they will raise prices in the September 2009 quarter.
The profit index has improved slightly. Despite improving by 17 percentage points, 53% of firms expect their profits to decrease in the September 2009 quarter.
The index for expected sales has followed a similar trend but is still in negative territory, with 47% of firms expecting a decrease in sales in the September 2009 quarter.
"The business outlook is being weighed down by declining capital investment expectations, two out of three firms expecting to raise prices and businesses still planning to cut back on staff," says Dun & Bradstreet CEO Christine Christian.
"The critical factor now is how Australian executives respond to this environment. We need to maintain the growth momentum of the March quarter if we are to continue to perform well domestically and by international standards."
|Qantas invests in Tasman operation |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Qantas Freight will begin a new Boeing 767 freighter operation between Australia and New Zealand on 15 June 2009, subject to regulatory approval.|
This would enable the company to retain wide-body freight capacity on the route following the introduction of the Qantas Group’s new trans-Tasman passenger schedule.
According to Stephen Cleary, executive manager Qantas Freight, the B767-200 freighter would be wet-leased from global carrier Air Transport International (ATI) and would operate Sydney – Auckland – Christchurch – Sydney overnight on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays under flight numbers QF7523 and QF7524.
“The aircraft will have a payload of approximately 42 tonnes and will also be made available for charter work and weekend rotations when demand exists,” he says.
|Sydney Ports encourages continuous operations |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Australia’s first performance management scheme to reduce congestion at the port landside interface will commence at Port Botany in late 2009.|
“It is intended that the performance management framework will be in place by the final quarter of 2009, prior to any introduction of peak-period pricing in early 2010 which will help drive 24/7 operations for the whole landside supply chain,” says CEO Grant Gilfillan.
An industry trial in April found that the operations of stevedores and carriers continue to be concentrated during peak periods, adding to the risk of continued congestion at the port across the day.
Gilfillan says the April trial confirmed that peak utilisation of available slots at Port Botany currently sits around 99.9%. On weekends, however, the trial revealed slot utilisation rates as low as 20%.
“The trial revealed there is clearly a need to drive demand away from peak and shoulder periods towards off-peak periods,” he adds.
The new framework will see penalties flow both ways from stevedores and transport operators for failures to meet service standards once they are agreed and in place.
The purpose of the peak and shoulder period charges is to reduce daytime congestion from road carriers entering the port terminals and to help drive off-peak and weekend operations.
Initial analysis found the range of AUD160 to AUD180 would be sufficient to help drive behavioural change. However, Sydney Ports has decided on AUD160 as the initial peak price, with industry to be given one month to provide feedback.
“In addition, the range for shoulder period pricing was around AUD80 to AUD90; however, it has been determined to set this at AUD80 for trucks arriving between 1pm and 9pm.
“Once this peak-period price scheme is operational in early 2010, it will be subject to regular price reviews according to the level of behavioural change achieved.
“A $20 weekend credit will apply to help smooth out truck arrivals and will also be subject to regular review,” says Gilfillan.
Further consultation with industry will now be undertaken over the next month.
|Construction begins on NZ rail exchange |
South Auckland, New Zealand
|Construction of a rail exchange at Wiri Inland Port in South Auckland has begun, with the rail link forecast to save up to 2.5 million truck kilometres per year once fully operational.|
Jointly funded by KiwiRail and Ports of Auckland, the exchange will connect the 15 hectare Wiri Inland Port with the national rail network and provide a direct link to the Waitemata seaport.
KiwiRail chairman Jim Bolger says the Wiri rail link is an important step towards creating a smarter and leaner national supply chain.
“Wiri is ideally placed as an inter-modal hub and will play a vital role in the upper North Island supply chain.
“The net effect when containers are loaded (on) and unloaded off rail wagons will be to create an effective multi-modal hub that reduces traffic congestion in central Auckland.”
“Our aim is to contribute to the New Zealand economy by taking advantage of rail’s natural strengths. In a nutshell, these are moving bulky goods, linking export industries to major ports and moving people through congested cities.”
Construction of the rail link is due to be completed by the end of the year.
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Editorial Calendar 2009
Rough Terrain forklifts
Safety products in MH
Forklift Market in Canada
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Fleet & Asset management
Narrow Aisle forklifts
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Forklift Market in India