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Home > News> Industry news

Another big year for materials handling 3

01 Mar 2017 -
Jim Dicke
Obituaries last year included some esteemed industry leaders. November saw the passing of Crown founder James Frederick Dicke, who died at home at the age of 94, following a struggle with cardiac issues.  Forklift pioneer Freddy Brown passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 16, with his wife at his side, after fighting a brave battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Brown is best known as the founder of Translift. He pioneered the design and manufacturing of man-rising narrow-aisle forklifts before moving on to design the current Bendi range. Earlier that month, tributes poured in for John Strang, a driving force behind ICHCA International (International Cargo Handling Coordination Association), who died peacefully at home on 29 September 2016 after a long illness. Strang was appointed to an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia on June 13, 2016 for distinguished service to the transport and logistics sector through executive roles in progressing industry development, and to professional business organisation . George Coates, secretary general of the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) from 1982 to 1999, died on 2 August, a few days after his 90th birthday. In February, veteran forklift executive Rolf Slobotzky, a pioneer in the materials handling industry in Latin America, passed away at the age of 91. Forkliftaction News readers will recall Slobotzky’s popular and long-running "South of the Border" column, in which he chronicled developments in the industry in Latin America. 

Port growth around the world ensured plenty of orders for the big names like Konecranes and Kalmar. Among the biggest Konecranes deals were an order from the Virginia Port Authority for 86 automated stacking cranes (ASCs); 12 RTGs for the South Carolina Ports Authority; 10 high-specification forklifts to Bristol Port Company in a GBP1.5 million (USD2 million) order (through Cooper Specialised Handling); and 13 Empty Container Handlers for DP World in Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE. Kalmar, meanwhile, obtained orders to supply 23 diesel-electric straddle carriers to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) Durban Pier 2, a dedicated straddle carrier operation in South Africa; 34 Kalmar Gloria reachstackers to the European ro-ro terminal operator C.RO Ports SA; and 25 forklift trucks to the Algerian port procurement company, Groupement D'Interêt Commun Des Entreprises Portuaires (GICEP). The company has wound back production capacity, moving production of forklifts from Sweden to Poland. 

Rationalisation saw the closure and/or relocation of manufacturing facilities, especially in Europe. Caterpillar will close its plant in Gosselies, Belgium. The measure follows an announcement that Caterpillar would cut some 10,000 jobs worldwide to increase profitability. Terex Cranes will consolidate its three current manufacturing locations in Zweibrücken, Germany into two. The company will continue manufacturing operations of the Demag crawler and all-terrain crane lines in its Dinglerstrasse and Wallerscheid locations and make multimillion-dollar investments in both facilities to support ongoing manufacturing operations. However, it will cease machine production in the Bierbach facility in 2017 and the facility will be sold. 

SOLAS, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, was amended on July 1 2016 with the introduction of new weighing regulations that  require packed shipping containers to have a verified gross mass (VGM) before they can be loaded on a ship for export. Although there was initial confusion, the changes seem to have been implemented fairly smoothly, thanks in part to a barrage of new hardware and software solutions such as BISON’s world-first system for weighing containers on a trailer chassis and Mobicon’s Mini Straddle Carriers TF2 which can be fitted with VGM container weighing equipment. 

Toyota retained its position as the largest player in the industry in the 2016 ranking by DHF. The ranking, based on previous-year results, puts the Japanese giant’s revenues at JPY924.9 billion or EUR6,592 million, representing growth of 14.3% or 16% for the respective currencies. According to the report, TMHG’s growth extends to all regional markets, notching up growth of 5.4% in Japan, 15.3% in Europe, 9% in North America and 17% in Asia, Latin America, Australia/Oceania, the Middle East and Africa. Toyota is not just competing for the premium market, but is attacking the ‘value end’ with the Tailift and CT Power brands it has acquired.