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|We regularly read about job cuts in the forklift industry, but there’s obviously a bigger picture which impacts on the global market. According to the International Labour Organisation, around 34 million people worldwide are jobless as a result of the global financial crisis. The organisation is warning that high unemployment and underemployment have high economic and social costs that — unless addressed — have the potential to drain the vitality out of any recovery. The great risk is that short-term job losses become long-term unemployment, producing a progressive loss of workers’ skills and exclusion from the productive economy. The ILO will be attempting to find solutions at a conference next month in Oslo titled “The Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion”.|
|MHI and Nichiyu plan joint forklift production|
|Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) and Nippon Yusoki Co (Nichiyu) are planning a joint forklift production in China.|
The Nikkei Report says demand for forklifts in China is surging on the back of a construction boom and Nichiyu’s Shanghai factory, which has an annual capacity of about 3,000 units, is under pressure to cope with the demand.
According to the report, Nichiyu’s production of about 200 to 300 units a year will soon be moved to MHI’s plant in Dalian.
MHI spokesman Hideo Ikuno tells Forkliftaction.com News that no official decision has been made yet regarding the joint effort but that the Chinese plant will double its staff progressively when production increases. MHI started producing forklifts in its new Dalian plant in 2009 with plans to increase production models in the future (Forkliftaction.com News #440).
Dalian currently produces four models of small-sized, 2-3.5 ton engine forklifts. It employs 150 people.
The two companies have capital and sales promotion tie-ups. In April 2009, MHI and Nichiyu established the joint venture company Nichiyu MHI Forklift CO Ltd to consolidate their domestic marketing activities. MHI owns 33.4% of the company while Nichiyu holds 66.6%. Both conduct overseas marketing activities independently.
MHI is the largest shareholder of Nichiyu, owning a 20% stake in the latter’s equity.
|Dematic-HK consolidation continues trend |
New Berlin, WI, United States
|Consolidation continues in the world of integrated materials handling solutions, services and equipment – including automated guided vehicles (AGVs).|
Dematic Holding Sàrl, based in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, has agreed in principle to purchase HK Systems Inc of New Berlin, Wisconsin. Terms were not disclosed.
In late July, Cimcorp Oy of Ulvila, Finland acquired RMT Robotics Ltd of Grimsby, Ontario, Canada. Cimcorp retains the entity’s name and operates RMT as a subsidiary. Terms were not disclosed.
In an earlier deal, Intelligrated Inc of Mason, Ohio purchased FKI Logistex’s western hemisphere operations from investor Melrose plc of London.
Within the materials handling community, robotic technology is playing a growing role for these competitors.
Ongoing developments involve new generations of increasingly more sophisticated AGVs, laser-guided vehicles and self-guided vehicles.
Completion of the Dematic-HK deal is expected during 2010’s third quarter. Dematic disclosed the agreement on 4 August. Dematic has production and management sites in Europe, China, Australia and the US, employs more than 3,000 persons and had 2009 sales exceeding EUR 700 million (USD1.003 billion).
HK Systems, particularly within North America, is a provider of automated material handling equipment and supply chain execution software. HK develops, implements and supports integrated solutions for management of enterprise-wide inventory, distribution, logistics management and automated material handling systems.
In the Cimcorp-RMT deal, RMT founder and President Doug Pickard acquired a 20% interest in Cimcorp and became a Cimcorp director. RMT Robotics engineers, manufactures and installs integrated solutions for materials handling including the latest in fully autonomous intelligent AGVs and robotic gantry systems.
On 12 August, RMT Robotics launched its autonomous delivery and manipulation (Adam brand) system for use in lean manufacturing operations, and on 24 August, RMT says Hanwha Corporation’s factory automation division ordered a fleet of Adam-brand intelligent AGVs for a US-based smart battery manufacturer seeking more automated technology. Deliveries are scheduled during 2010’s fourth quarter.
The Intelligrated-FKI transaction in June 2009 renewed certain relationships for Intelligrated Chief Executive Officer Chris Cole and President and Chief Operating Officer Jim McCarthy and strengthened Intelligrated’s distribution network.
Cole and McCarthy founded Intelligrated in 2001 following the sale of their former company Pinnacle Automation and its subsidiary brands Alvey, Buschman Conveyors, Mathews Conveyor, Real Time Solutions and White Systems to FKI plc, an engineering conglomerate in Loughborough, England. Melrose acquired control of FKI in 2008.
Intelligrated owners include key company managers, Gryphon Investors of San Francisco and Boston-based Tudor Investment Corporation’s venture capital and private equity arm.
Separately, on 16 August, Intelligrated began offering an upgrade program for North American installations of its IntelliSort, FKI Logistex, Unisort, Crisplant, Mathews and Buschman brand equipment. The encouragement of upgrading–rather than replacing–equipment was not explained.
“Materials handling technology keeps advancing over time,” says Dennis Gates, Intelligrated senior vice president for customer service and support. “Many facilities are facing changes in production requirements, including capacity, throughput and product variations but are limited by ageing sortation equipment.”
Improvements may involve replacing obsolete components, installing advanced functionality to meet changing product needs, expansion or overhauling machinery.
|Briggs works with Forkway |
Cannock, United Kingdom
|Briggs Equipment UK has announced a strategic partnership between the company and Yale dealer Forkway Group.|
Forkliftaction.com News contacted Briggs for details of the partnership but did not receive a response by press time. The company said in a statement that Briggs and Forkway have developed a “close working relationship in the UK”, enjoying strong customer bases with complementary demographic and geographic strengths.
Briggs UK CEO Richard Close said the partnership would help the company “move to the next level” by offering better service at local levels in key markets and nationally through a broad supply network.
Briggs UK announced last month that it was in the process of buying NACCO Material Handling Group’s Yale UK business. Amersham-based Forkway Group, established in 1961, has represented the Yale brand for two years (Forkliftaction.com News #469).
|Flexco technology targets weight issues |
Montreal, QC, Canada
|Flexco Industries Inc is bringing patent-protected weight-measuring technology to firms operating forklifts, overhead cranes, front-end loaders and legged silos.|
The Flex-1500, for instance, helps a forklift operator during daily tasks. The technology seeks to prevent accidents due to overloading and provides an operator with knowledge about the weight of the load in correction with level effect.
“The Flex-1500 is only one application of what our patent– and international patents-pending can do,” says Gary Saigh, Flexco director.
Flexco introduced the Flex-1500 to the commercial market in December and has other products in the pipeline and undergoing research and development.
The company organisers received US patent 6845564 in 2005 for measuring the stress, strain and load on any kind or type of solid structure and were approached about a need.
About five years ago, a fatal accident with an order picker at a Montreal facility of The Brick volume furniture retailer prompted Quebec provincial worker safety regulators to take action. The Commission de la Santé et de la Sécurité du Travail du Québec (CSST) directed operators of The Brick to alert or warn an operator when the limit of a forklift or order picker was reached. The limit would be based on the level effect and the height of the load on the machine.
“We had several meetings with The Brick, the CSST and the manufacturer of the forklift/order picker in order to find the right solution with our new technology to prevent such accidents from happening in the future,” Saigh says. “We were able meet all their requirements.”
Subsequently, Flexco’s “board members took the decision to work on other brands, other capacities and other types of forklifts in order to make sure that we were able to meet the market’s demands,” Saigh notes. “Finally, last December, we were able to launch our safety system, Flex-1500, worldwide.”
Flexco had its start in 2003 and employs weight and measurement specialists, electronics engineers, software engineers and R&D specialists in working on solutions to calculate the deflection in any given material.
Flexo’s patented Solid Structure Sensor (3D) is suitable as an add-on to any new or existing structure. The upcoming Flex-2500 is a load limiter for overhead cranes. The Flex-LWII is an embedded weighing system for front-end loaders. The Flex-SWII is an embedded weighing system for legged silos. And the future Flex-5000 system is designed to measure movement, deformation or overload for any kind of structure.
Among its goals, Flexco aims to “save lives, reduce the high level of accidents in the forklift industry and help drivers to prevent overloading their equipment,” Saigh says. “We want to help the drivers on how to load and where to load their pallet or object on the forks.”
Flexco is seeking to establish a distribution network and, simultaneously, work with “partners in all industries and in all geographic regions,” he notes.
Saigh is scheduled to discuss the subject during a presentation at the Fork Lift Truck Association annual safety conference on 22 September in Alton, England.
Flexco has 21 employees and agents and is located in a 5,000 sqft (450 sqm) facility in the Montreal borough of LaSalle, at the south western corner of the Island of Montreal.
|Mariotti ME AC forklifts enter North American market |
Loves Park, IL, and La Vista, NE, United States
|The ME AC compact electric rider from manufacturer V Mariotti Srl is getting a warm reception in North America.|
“Dealer and customer acceptance of the new ME AC has been excellent,” says John P Smith, one of two master distributors. “We are having a difficult time keeping inventory in our warehouse. By the time the container arrives, the forklifts are already sold. We just shipped the last two trucks in our inventory two weeks ago.”
The next container is scheduled for shipment in September, “and 11 of the forklifts on that container are sold,” Smith notes. “We are pleased to be doing so well in this down economy.”
Master distributors of Mariotti forklifts in North America are Smith’s Smith-Gramley Ltd in Loves Park for the eastern US and all of Canada, and Jim Baird’s MH Distribution in La Vista for the western US and all of Mexico. MH Distribution oversees parts and service functions through all of Mariotti’s North American dealerships.
The ME design includes a small innovative chassis, cutting-edge electronics, a specially created mast, rear gearbox and hydraulic rack and pinion power steering.
“The ME design rewards the user with trouble-free maintenance, ease of handling, long lasting performance and low operating costs,” Smith says. “Mariotti manufactures the smallest electric rider on the market.” The ME 8C with a 113-inch (2.8m) duplex mast fits through a standard man-sized doorway. Lifting capacities range from 1,440 lb to 2,100 lb (648 kg to 945 kg).
Mast heights in standard, duplex and triplex configurations range from 113 to 224 inches (2.8 to 5.6 m). Forklifts come standard with integrated side shift, adjustable steering wheel, regenerative braking, amber strobe light, back-up alarm, horn, emergency power disconnect, power steering, battery discharge indicator, fully adjustable seat and operator restraint.
The Mariotti factory is in Grugliasco, Italy near Torino.
Effective from 1 March through Smith-Gramley, Barloworld Ltd’s US materials handling equipment operation in Charlotte, North Carolina added distribution of Mariotti ME line to its exclusive Hyster representation through 30 sales and full-service branches in eight south east states (Forkliftaction.com News #458).
|Fork Level device ensures level tines |
Redwood City, CA, United States
|An accessory known as a Fork Level from Inventor Labs LLC of Redwood City provides a forklift operator with a visual indicator of whether the tines are level.|
Glenn Reid, founder of the business, says the Fork Level can indicate the deviation of blade tilt within 0.1 degree and is adaptable to all types of forklifts with tilting vertical masts.
“The idea came from using our Clark forklift in our own shop facility and noting that it’s actually fairly tricky to get the forks level, even with a lot of experience,” Reid says. “We came up with the idea and refined it through several prototypes. It works very well, and everybody who has used it remarks on how simple and effective it is. You can get the forks level instantly with just a glance, even if you're doing something fairly intricate. We have heard from customers that it is a good safety product and increases productivity while reducing damage to inventory.” The suggested pricing is USD34.99.
Safety is the principal concern, Reid says in a message to industry players. “As a plant manager, you are responsible for the safety of the employees and the inventory and equipment. This simple device can save you thousands of dollars by helping prevent forklift errors that damage costly inventory and shelving and weaken pallets.”
Reid developed the solution, which can be installed quickly, after experiencing challenges with the forklift in the shop at Inventor Labs.
For installation, the mast should be fully tilted back toward the operator. The Fork Level is positioned on top of the truck cage with a colored rod at the front and a clear tube toward the rear. After adjusting for operator visibility, backing tape is used to attach the Fork Level. Setting the level point is the final step.
“As the mast tilts back and forth, watch the end of the colored rod,” Reid says. “When it is in the center of the Level Zone, your fork is parallel to the floor. Even if the floor is not level, the fork will be parallel to the floor, which is more important than actually being level.”
Reid incorporated extensive experience in mechanical and industry engineering in establishing Inventor Labs in April 2007 as a location for people’s ideas to blossom. “Inventor Labs is a place for prototyping, patenting and bringing to market ingenious inventions in many different areas including green power generation and storage, child safety, construction, transportation, and automation,” he says. Reid aims to help individuals “with all the things you have no idea how to do” while respecting their intellectual property.
Reid received a bachelor of science degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin in 1984.
On 23 August, the inventor received feature editorial coverage in The Daily Journal newspaper of San Mateo, California.
|Mentor offers discount to promote awareness |
London, United Kingdom
|UK materials handling training provider Mentor is offering a reduced rate for managers who join its specially designed awareness course.|
Mentor says it is offering the discount to support the Fork Lift Truck Association’s (FLTA) National Fork Lift Safety Week. A recent FLTA report revealed managers and supervisors are “often the weak link” in ensuring safe working conditions and the association’s “Manage to be Safe” September campaign encourages supervisors to develop their knowledge.
Richard Shore, managing director of Mentor, says it is a “sad fact” that time and budget constraints cause managers to neglect safety awareness.
“[Our] short, fully-accredited course packs that vital information into two half-day sessions. With this additional discount, it’s an excellent investment for all levels of management,” Shore says.
The course combines hands-on workplace assessment exercises with a practical guide to a supervisor’s duties under the law. It is designed for anyone with management responsibilities for staff working near forklifts and is available in the UK.
“Improved safety awareness already seems to be having an impact on accident figures among workers and members of the public but FLTA have highlighted a skills gap at management level which could hinder further progress and put staff at risk,” Shore says.
Mentor is offering a 25% discount on the accredited safety awareness course until the end of the year.
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|BLT offers safety tip for hot loads |
Durban, South Africa
|BLT, Africa’s exclusive distributor of Taylor forklifts, is recommending that fire-resistant hydraulic fluids be used instead of standard petroleum oil for forklifts in hazardous environments.|
BLT product manager Clinton van den Berg says inappropriate use of forklifts in hazardous environments can result in fires, causing injury to workers and extensive damage to property.
“Because petroleum oil can ignite and burn if it comes into contact with hot surfaces, we advise that fire-resistant hydraulic fluids like water glycol be used as an alternative,” van den Berg explains.
“Hydraulic media is recommended in powered industrial trucks operating in industrial sites involving aluminium, steel smelting or forging operations. Hydraulic fluids are also advised for trucks working near wood and brick kilns where temperatures are high,” he continues.
BLT also warns that loads with temperatures exceeding 232.2 °C should not be carried unless the forklift is equipped with fire-resistant hydraulic media. The forklift distributor suggests hot loads be transported on specially designed trailers and then only be unloaded by forklifts.
By installing specialist equipment on existing forklifts, BLT converts petroleum-based forklift systems to water glycol systems. The conversion is then supported by a regular maintenance program. It is critical to closely monitor water levels in the forklift because of evaporation.
|TDG renews Linde agreement|
Basingstoke, United Kingdom
Linde Material Handling (UK) has been awarded a five-year contract to supply over 800 forklifts to TDG sites in the UK.
TDG’s Jonathan Fletcher credited Linde’s fleet management system, customer support services and cost-effective solution for the renewal of the contract. The companies have been working together for over 10 years. The value of the contract is confidential.
TDG, a third-party logistics and supply chain management specialist, works at about 100 of its customers’ sites in the country, including Weetabix, Sainsbury’s and Argos.
Giant machine on parade in Birmingham
Kenilworth, United Kingdom
Cooper Specialised Handling will be exhibiting one of its largest second-rail reach stackers at IMHX 2010 in Birmingham this November.
The 45-tonne reach stacker will be located inside the hall on the company’s stand.
“We want to put into perspective how big and robust these trucks really are,” says David Cooper, managing director of the company. “Photographs and videos simply don’t do the machines any justice.”
JLG awarded multi-million dollar contract
McConnellsburg, PA, United States
JLG has been awarded a USD40.3 million contract for the purchase of up to 280 extendable boom forklifts (EBFL) and associated training by the US Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Virginia.
The EBFL is a four-wheel drive, rubber-tyred forklift with two-wheel, four-wheel and crab steering and a lifting range of 4,000-11,000lbs.
|Movers & Shakers |
Konecranes will combine its South Asia Pacific (SAP) and North East Asia (NEA) regions into one. The new Asia Pacific (APAC) region will be headed by Ryan Flynn. Flynn has been senior vice president and head of Konecranes’ operations in the NEA region since 1 September 2009. He was previously Konecranes’ director for ports, Northeast and South East Asia. As head of the APAC region, Flynn will continue to report to Harry Ollila, the company’s executive vice president and head of market operations.
Edward Yakos, senior vice president of the SAP region is leaving the company. Yakos was head of Konecranes’ operations in the SAP region and managing director of the Australian and Singaporean Konecranes subsidiaries. He was also a member of the group executive board from 2005 to 2009.
Konecranes’ region structure now consists of the Americas; Western Europe, Middle East and Africa; Nordic, Eastern Europe and India; and Asia Pacific.
|Inspection program begins for forklift operators|
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
|WorkSafe WA has begun a six-month inspection program looking at high-risk work licences for forklift operators in the manufacturing sector.|
During the program, inspectors will check whether forklift operators in the manufacturing sector have the relevant high-risk work licence or current National Certificate of Competency to operate forklifts.
Inspectors will also make a number of checks on the forklifts in workplaces, including whether the forklift is in good working order, the maintenance records, capacity charts and operators' manuals, and whether the work area is organised for the safety of forklift operators.
According to Licensing Line News, WorkSafe will be running an advertising campaign from July to September aimed at reminding workers with certificates of competency that they may now need to have a high-risk work licence.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne says the inspection campaign will focus on raising awareness of the need for high-risk work licences and ensuring that employers have the information required to comply with the laws.
"Workers with certification issued any time before 31 December 2001 must now have converted that certification to a national high-risk work licence. By 30 June 2012, all relevant workers will need to have converted their certification.”
|Fond farewell to forklift founders |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|After 27 years in the forklift industry, the joint founders of forklift dealership Hystandard Handling Equipment, Barry Marley and Allan Humphreys, are retiring.|
John Flinn, the third partner in the business, tells Forkliftaction.com News that he is in a position to buy them out and says the timing is about right for them both to enjoy the benefits of their years of hard work in the industry.
Summing up his partners, Flinn, who joined the business almost nine years ago, says they are both known in the industry for their honesty and dependability. “If they say it’s going to happen, you can count on it.”
He says the two men created a business based on integrity and outstanding customer service, assembling a team of dedicated professionals which has grown into the largest independent forklift business in NSW.
“They have set the standard for others to aspire to,” he adds.
While neither has plans to continue working in the industry, Flinn says they have assured him he can use them as a sounding board when required.
“I would like on behalf of myself and all the team at Hystandard Handling Equipment to wish them good health and happiness and a long and enjoyable retirement. And the team here will continue to build on what they have created,” he concludes.
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|2010 LDA winner announced |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|The 2010 Logistics Development Award, offered annually by the Logistics Association of Australia, has been won by Ben Newton, transport strategy manager of Woolworths, NSW.|
His winning paper was entitled “Woolworths – on track outlining a supply chain initiative”.
As the major prize winner, Newton will attend the annual conference of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals to be held in San Diego, California, USA from 26 to 29 September, 2010.
Runner-up, Matthew Lowe of Woolworths, Victoria won a complimentary registration to the value of $1,500 at a major conference in the Australasian region.
Two $200 book prizes were also awarded to Justin Mackedie of Woolworths, Queensland and Leorey Marquez of CSIRO, Victoria.
|Freight challenge requires strong national leadership |
Canberra, ACT, Australia
|The CEO of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Michael Kilgariff, says regardless of which party ultimately forms a government, continued national leadership is essential to continue the transport and logistics reform agenda.|
“This is important because Australia’s freight task is estimated to triple by 2050 – from 503 billion tonne kilometres to 1,540 billion tonne kilometres, with local demand for total freight movements increasing by as much as 60% by 2020,” he says.
“Major steps have been taken in recent years to develop a national T&L market with the decision by the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) and ministers of the Australian Transport Council (ATC) to support national rail safety and marine safety regulators, as well as a National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
“The regulatory frameworks for these regulators are in the process of being developed by negotiation between all governments and industry, in preparation for ‘national’ or ‘applied’ legislation to be passed by all governments.”
Kilgariff warns that prior to the election, there were already signs that the T&L reform agenda was in real danger of stalling if it didn’t continue to receive strong national leadership.
“ALC has also called for ongoing support for Infrastructure Australia in the development of the National Ports Strategy and the National Freight Network Plan, which should set the agenda for all governments to ensure the appropriate regulatory environment, infrastructure and investment are in place to meet Australia’s freight needs.
“The National Freight Network Plan should set the agenda in much the same way the Button Car Plan mapped out the future for the Australian motor vehicle industry and the Wallis Report drove reform of the Australian financial system,” says Kilgariff.
|Forklift foolery results in serious injury|
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
|A 30-year-old worker sustained critical head injuries after an alleged skylarking incident with a forklift at a plastic pipe manufacturing plant near Wagga Wagga last week.|
According to WorkCover, the licensed operator of the forklift was towing his co-workers on a makeshift plastic sled when it became dislodged after the forklift turned a corner.
One worker was thrown from the sled and sustained critical head injuries and had to be airlifted to a Sydney hospital.
John Watson, general manager of WorkCover’s occupational health and safety division, says forklifts are not designed for towing individuals.
“Forklifts are a complex piece of machinery that can be extremely dangerous when not used for their intended purpose.
“Skylarking on any worksite is inappropriate. Skylarking with machinery is dangerous and employers must ensure that they take all necessary training and action to ensure this never occurs.
“If not used properly, forklifts can put people at risk of serious injury or death. They can easily become out of control, tip over, turn too fast or lose loads and should not carry passengers.
“Sadly, this serious incident could have been avoided.
“Forklifts should only be used for the purpose for which they are designed.”
When using forklifts, ensure:
• adequate traffic management, including the safety of pedestrians and bystanders;
• planning for the task and ensuring the right equipment is being used for the load;
• forklifts are correctly maintained and operated in accordance with the designer's and manufacturer's instruction;
• forklift operators are correctly certified and have the correct training for the particular forklift.
Watson urges all businesses across the state to review their work procedures and consult with their staff around the safe use of forklifts.
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