News Briefs

Electric Lift Trucks to Replace IC Models?

The Industrial Truck Association's (ITA) air quality subcommittee recently discussed a controversial California Air Resources Board (CARB) proposal, offered as part of the South Coast Air Quality Management District State Implementation Plan (SCAQMD SIP). It would require that lift trucks having a capacity of 8,000 lbs. or less, purchased after January 1, 2005, be electric. It would also phase-out rentals of all internal combustion lift trucks having a capacity of 8,000 lbs. or less between 2005 and 2010. If the proposal is approved as part of the SCAQMD SIP, it would then become a CARB regulatory proposal.

There are two opportunities for comment: First, whether the idea should be included in the SIP; and whether it should be adopted as a regulation.

The unanimous view of this group was that ITA should oppose the proposal, and any variation on it, requiring mandatory electrification of lift trucks. Although the members at the meeting sell electric lift trucks, none favors a regulation requiring lift trucks of a certain capacity be only electric. General sentiment is that customers’ needs and capabilities are so varied, any rule permitting only electric lift trucks in certain capacities, would leave customers' needs unmet. It would also cause significant dislocation and economic hardship. A regulation requiring electric trucks based simply on lift capacity ignores the complexity of real-world factors. The impact on short-term rental customers who need charging stations and special facilities to handle electric units, might be especially acute.

In addition to providing a full explanation of customer impact, participants noted the following points that might be developed to dissuade CARB:

• CARB's Emissions savings claims might be overstated. Companies selling internal combustion units might certify earlier than required and might achieve emissions levels significantly below the requirements;

• Lift truck owners might opt to rebuild internal combustion engines rather than switch to electric;

• Customers might demand more diesel-powered units if they cannot obtain spark-ignited units (the electrification proposal applies only to spark-ignited lift trucks);

• There are air emissions costs associated with generating the electricity used by electric trucks;

• There are serious battery-disposal issues;

• California already has electricity-supply problems;

• CARB might lack the legal authority to ban this entire category of lift trucks.

Two other proposals affect the sale and use of IC trucks. One would apply the 2007 EPA emissions limits to these trucks. The other would require retrofit of large spark-ignited engines that were manufactured before the regulations became effective. The ITA air quality subcommittee will discuss these proposals further. For more information, go to www.indtrk.org.

Future Looks Bright Ahead

According to a survey by global accounting firm Grant Thornton and Wirthlin Worldwide, eight out of 10 (79 percent) U.S. middle-market companies are optimistic about the future of their business over the next six months, and half plan to increase hiring.

"To survive and thrive in the current economic climate, middle-market businesses are tightening their belts and getting back to basics," says John Desmond, partner-in-charge of the Grant Thornton Business Owners Council and the firm’s Long Island, New York, office.

Additional findings of the Grant Thornton Survey of Middle-Market Business Leaders include:

• 84 percent are optimistic about the growth of their business over the next 12 months.

• 54 percent expect their business' growth to be organic, 17 percent predict growth through a joint venture/strategic alliance, 16 percent by acquisition, and 4 percent by merger.

• 50 percent expect to hire more employees over the next six months, with only 7 percent expecting to reduce work force.

Companies Making News

Universal Express Inc. announced that subsidiary USXP Capital executed a contract to acquire United States Coachworks and its finance/lease affiliate Go Leasing.

Ranpak Corp. manufacturer of paper-based packaging systems, announced that its new manufacturing plant in Reno, Nevada, is fully operational.

Magnetek Inc., designer and manufacturer of electrification and control products for the overhead material handling industry, has acquired Telemotive Industrial Controls.

Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation announced that it has signed a letter of intent with Jefferson Smurfit Group, under which Smurfit-Stone will exchange its European packaging operations and receive JS Group’s 50 percent ownership in Smurfit-MBI.

Siemens-Dematic has selected Manhattan Associates as its preferred software partner in the Americas, and Manhattan will use Siemens-Dematic as its preferred Material Handling vendor.

In addition, Manhattan Associates and Zebra Technologies plan to deliver a joint solution that enables companies to create and leverage radio frequency identification labels to gain real-time visibility into supply chains.

Clark Smith, president of Bluff Manufacturing Inc., announced that it has acquired the portable dock division of Torbeck Industries, Harrison, Ohio.

WhereNet Corp. announced that Symbol Technologies Inc. has chosen to integrate WhereNet's technology into its Spectrum24 RTL System (real-time location) product offering.

NetVendor Inc. and Teradyne announced that the two companies have completed the sale of Teradyne's manufacturing software group NetVendor. The two groups have merged to become Visiprise Inc., effective immediately.

Robot Orders Picking Up

North American manufacturing companies ordered 10,573 robots valued at $811 million from North American-based robotics suppliers in 2002. This is an increase of six percent in units and five percent in revenue from 2001, according to figures released by Robotic Industries Association, the industry's trade group.

PMMI's Educational Efforts

The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) provided $128,600 in packaging education support in 2002. Through four unique scholarship programs and support of the Packaging Education Forum (PEF), PMMI's education commitment supported the workforce development efforts of hundreds of packaging professionals and dozens of packaging schools.

"PMMI has a long standing commitment to supporting the future of the packaging machinery industry through financial support of both students and packaging schools," says Charles D. Yuska, president, PMMI. "Our goal is to support the schools and students who are critical to the ongoing success of packaging machinery and its role in the manufacturing process."

Managers Making News

Craig Bauer has been appointed Omron Electronics LLC's chief operating officer, and Frank Newburn has been promoted to co-CEO. Newburn will maintain his title as president as well as continuing his responsibilities as president of Omron Manufacturing of America.

G. Lynnwood Rosser has been named director of sales and marketing for FKI Logistex White Systems.

Schneider Logistics Inc. announced that Todd Callahan has joined the company as director, business development.

RedPrairie announced the appointment of Ken Finkel as strategic accounts group leader.

Thomas Berger has been hired as vice president of customer applications at LB International, manufacturer of material handling equipment for warehousing, distribution and production.

Lyon Workspace Products LLC has promoted Pete Webb to national sales manager. He has been with the company 30 years.

Jerry Vaughn has joined Intelligrated as systems sales manager.

SK Daifuku has appointed David C. Janke vice president of sales and marketing.

Andrew N. Jordan has been named national sales and marketing manager for Paltier LLC.

Motion Industries, distributor of bearings, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic replacement parts, has named Jim Williams corporate director, industrial automation.

MRO Direct Inc., a procurement services provider, announced it has appointed Brent Fitch corporate operations officer.

Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. has appointed Mike Casey vice president of corporate account management. Corporate account managers have also been named, including Tom Stephens, Mark DeCleene, Jim Adamus. Brian Markison will handle corporate accounts for Illinois Material Handling, a Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. affiliated company.

Bicknell & Fuller, a division of Liberty Diversified Industries, announces that George Preston has been named its general manager.

Schneider National Inc. announced the promotion of Greg Sanders to area vice president of sales.

Gary Saunders has been appointed vice president of sales and marketing at Magnum Systems Inc., supplier of bulk material handling and packaging systems

Insight to RFID Market in 2002

From standards development to expanded pilots to real installations, the RFID market made substantial progress in 2002. End user interest in RFID technology is at its highest point and continues to climb. RFID technology is getting strong support from end users, with consumer goods manufacturers, government organizations, retailers, medical facilities, libraries, and airlines using, evaluating, testing and becoming more aware of RFID solutions. However, according to Venture Development Corporation (VDC) project manager, Michael Liard, "The end users are coming out, but not their wallets. The excitement surrounding RFID has not translated into explosive sales. Regardless, 2002 proved to be an interesting year for the RFID market."

So what shaped the RFID market this past year?

Market growth amid difficult economic conditions — VDC's recent report entitled Global Markets and Applications for Radio Frequency Identification and Contactless Smartcard Systems, 4th Edition, reveals global shipments of RFID systems (including transponders, readers, software and services) reached approximately $965 million. Although struggling economies across the globe (especially in major markets such as the United States) have limited IT investments and restricted RFID spending over the last two years, the RFID market experienced roughly eight percent compounded annual growth since 2000.

New Supply Chain Executive Forum

The Logistics Institute at Georgia Tech is presenting its Supply Chain Executive Forum in April and October. This is a relevant and valuable opportunity for senior supply chain executives to enhance the strategic impact of their supply chain processes and activities. The Supply Chain Executive Forum (SCEF) provides executives from leading supply chain organizations with new ways to:

• Streamline operations to enhance profitability;

• Integrate supply chain strategy with corporate strategy;

• Grow professionally within and beyond their current organizations.

The SCEF includes a broad range of member organizations that are essential to the success of any supply chain (e.g., manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, wholesalers, 3PLs, transport providers, IT firms, etc.). It is founded on the belief that true supply chain improvement occurs only when these organizations are able to work together effectively toward mutually agreeable goals and objectives.

For more information, visit tli.gatech.edu.

Siemens Energy & Automation Joins Trading Network

In a push to offer customers more flexibility and drive down the cost of doing business, Siemens Energy & Automation Inc., a manufacturer of electrical, engineering, and automation solutions and products, has partnered with Prophet 21 to become a member of Trading Partner Connect.

Prophet 21 provides distributors with technology solutions that help them increase sales, improve customer service and reduce operating costs. Trading Partner Connect is an Internet trading network that streamlines the commerce process between distributors, their manufacturers, suppliers and end-users.

Letter to the Editor

Mr. Witt:

I enjoyed your article on the 3PL services trends. [MHM January 2003, Two Studies Reveal Trends in 3PL Servics, p. 78.]

One aspect that really hit home for me is the statement about key concerns in "defining the role of lead logistics management, the ownership and control of IT functions, and blurred expectations ..."

In my 15 years of consulting, and in my time as director of logistics systems for Rite Aid, I have seen this as a continual battle — especially the "ownership and control of IT functions." I think the world would be a happier place — logistics-wise at least — if there was a common ground between IT and logistics operations when it comes to logistics systems. The rub is: Logistics knows what it wants (but maybe can't communicate and might not have a budget for), and IT knows what it can do (but doesn't really know if Logistics wants it)! So both get frustrated and projects are prone to failure.

I have found the best way around this is to:

1) Force Logistics to be the project manager — it is the customer and it will live with the system after implementation. Logistics can then only point fingers at itself. Of course, this takes concession from IT.

2) Force Logistics to cost-justify the systems.

3) In return, allow IT autonomy in hardware, services, and support and have a voice in the scoring of which system is implemented.

Jeff Zeiler

York Consulting Group

York, PA

Business Conditions Strengthen

The packaging machinery sector continued to show strength in the first report for the new year, according to the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute's (PMMI) Business Conditions Index (BCI). The latest BCI report shows two measures growing and all four measures staying above 50, the index level indicating expansion or growth. General business conditions rose 2.9 points to 60.5; quotations rose 5.2 points to 60; shipments dropped 16.6 points from its record high of 69.9 to 53.3 points; and new orders dropped 1.5 points to 61.7 points. With three points in the 60s and shipments recording a score in the 50s, all four measures continue to point to strength in the packaging machinery sector.

"Though we saw a dip in the indices over the holidays, January's figures continue to support the notion that companies are using this period to both quote and purchase capital equipment," says Charles D. Yuska, president of PMMI. "This activity, combined with the administration's tax proposals for businesses regarding the writing down of capital equipment, could provide much needed relief in the manufacturing sector."

Future Supply Chain Spending

According to a new Forrester Research Inc. report, U.S. firms will spend a total of $35 billion over the next five years to improve business processes that monitor, manage and optimize their extended supply chains. In the report SCM Processes Replace Applications: 2003 to 2008, Forrester expects firms to increasingly extend their supply chain processes across departmental and partner boundaries. For firms, this means the end of investments in narrowly focused functional supply chain management applications and concentration on supply chain processes that support firms’ migration to adaptive supply networks.

The report categorizes and projects the total spending by U.S. firms in supply chain process improvement initiatives that target the entire product life cycle — from decision through manufacturing and distribution all the way to aftermarket service management.

For this report, Forrester interviewed 26 supply chain executives in $1 billion-plus manufacturing firms. Additionally, to calculate spending projections on supply network processes, Forrester surveyed 124 North American executives who work for firms ranging from $500 million to more than $10 billion in revenue.

Key findings:

• Variability and process inflexibility hamper supply chain performance. Forty-six percent of interviewees cited difficulties in getting processes and people adjusted to changes as impediments to supply chain performance. Forty-two percent pointed to high variability in supply and demand. Fifty-four percent say their supply chain applications failed to meet expectations, most often citing immaturity of technology standards.

• Only eight percent of interviewees plan to significantly increase SCM applications spending in the next three years. Fifty percent plan a moderate increase, and 27 percent say spending will remain the same.

Correction

In the sidebar, "Considering Liberty's Future," which ran in Part 1 of our Automation series appearing in the January issue, the incorrect suppliers were listed at the conclusion. Siemens Dematic provided a conveyor system, sorters, controls and integration for the entire Liberty Hardware automated material handling system. The companies credited were to be listed in the sidebar, "Phasing in Automation."

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