Lift Truck News from Auto-Tech

Nov. 1, 2001
The standards necessary for easy product and data flow through the supply chain are still in flux, and the Auto-Tech 2001 conference and show in Detroit tackled those standards issues.

Lift Truck News from Auto-Tech

Getting product through the supply chain safely and on time should be standard procedure. But the efficient flow of goods depends on an equally efficient flow of information. Unfortunately, the standards necessary to ease product and data flows are still in flux.

That challenge fueled a good deal of discussion at Auto-Tech 2001, the Automotive Industry Action Group’s annual show and conference held in Detroit.

Efficient material flow depends on safety, and one session dealt with how to be proactive on industrial truck safety issues. Dennis Graham, Ford Motor Company, noted that up to 80 percent of unit loads in automotive plants are handled by lift truck, therefore, most accidents are caused by poorly operated lift trucks. One way Ford chooses to deal with that is by reducing travel distances.

“We’re putting in rapid battery charging to eliminate the high-risk travel to and from battery rooms,” he explained. “In one assembly plant we studied point-to-point travel between a work area and a battery room. We determined that 20-plus miles of high-risk, non-value-added travel could be removed per shift by isolating the chargers from where the trucks are being used and rapidly recharging the batteries in the lift trucks.”

Ford is also placing electronic vehicle controls on its lift trucks to control operator access to vehicles they are not authorized to operate.

Finally, Ford is working with its lift truck vendors so they can deliver lift trucks with high-vis yellow/green. This hue has been shown to strike the human eye at a frequency and wavelength four times greater than any naturally occurring color. Graham says this has increased appreciation and notice of the industrial trucks moving through Ford plants.

Ergonomics also contributes to safety, and General Motors’ Frank Steinberger pointed out instances where seat belts actually detracted from safety in some situations. That’s an argument he wants the industry to take up with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“The term ‘operator restraints’ is found in international safety standards, but you don’t see ‘seat belt’ in there anywhere,” he explained. “However, OSHA has interpreted it to mean ‘seat belt.’ The ones on industrial trucks are cinch-type belts, which, when used properly, cinch up tight on your body. Lift truck operators are required by OSHA to wear a seat belt if provided on the truck, regardless of the environment or application. According to the training standard, when vision is restricted, operators must turn around in their seat and clear the traffic path behind. Try turning around with a cinch-type seat belt for three or four hours. A mandatory seat belt restriction would increase lower back, lumbar and neck-type reportable injuries.”

Steinberger added that he isn’t against the use of seat belts where appropriate, but the industry should be able to apply good business-case risk assessment on where in plants that would be appropriate. Steinberger included this element in his discussion of a “Best Practices Handbook” the Big Three will present to lift truck OEMs. He said this handbook would make it easier for industrial truck OEMs to serve the automotive industry.

Other handbook issues include:

• Vehicle/pedestrian interface;

• Traffic flow in aisles;

• Ergonomics (ingress/egress in the operator compartment);

• Maintenance applications (standard practices);

• Repair environment (ventilation, vehicle set-up for repair);

• Operator training.

“If we can put a more productive fleet in the aisles, that means fewer lift trucks are required and pedestrians are safer,” Steinberger concluded.

— Tom Andel

Make Good by Doing Good

Linpac Materials Handling has donated 15 of its Ropak 4548 reusable, collapsible plastic containers to Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries Inc. This is the second time Linpac has contributed containers to the non-profit organization.

The organization provides facilities and services for persons with disabilities throughout southeastern Kentucky, enabling them to find and maintain employment.

Cat Financial Services, in cooperation with Mustang Tractor & Equipment Co. and Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc., donated a GC25K Caterpillar lift truck to Goodwill Industries of Houston. The truck was needed to move large amounts of donated items throughout Goodwill’s warehouse. Prior to receiving the lift truck, most material was distributed manually.

Raymond Introduces AC Reach Truck

The Raymond Corporation announced its first entry into AC-powered lift trucks with the introduction of its Accelerated Cycle reach truck. This new line of trucks uses AC drive and lift motors to enhance truck productivity, maximize energy efficiency, reduce the cost of operation, and lower the cost per pallet moved.

Says Raymond’s John Colborn, reach truck product advocate, “The faster lift speeds and quicker acceleration of the ACR truck, and its ability to deliver higher utilization rates, make it appealing for customers with taller warehouses and high throughput requirements, especially those running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

According to Jim Malvaso, president and CEO, Raymond has been working for quite some time to see if AC made sense for the company and its customers. “The 24/7 customer runs up to 4,200 hours and between 60,000 and 120,000 cycles a year,” says Malvaso. “They might travel 8,400 miles in that time. Typical lift heights run between 270 and 421 inches. That represents about 35 percent of the total reach truck market. These are the places that push the limits of performance.”

Malvaso adds that the cost of the new truck will be marginally higher than the normal reach truck because the control systems cost a little more.

New Books Make Business Better

The Council of Logistics Management has just published e-Business: The Strategic Impact on Supply Chain and Logistics. The book was written collaboratively by supply chain experts at CSC Consulting and AMR Research, based on research conducted throughout the rise and fall of the dot-com “bubble.”

The book provides a primer on the tools and methods of e-business, including a framework for understanding and working with trading exchanges and digital marketplaces. It analyzes the leaders and their industries, including aerospace, automotive, chemicals, consumer goods, Department of Defense, fulfillment and high-tech. It also offers a step-by-step guide to developing a supply chain strategy that leverages e-business. The cost of the book is $40 for CLM members and $75 for non-members. Contact CLM’s Publications Department at (630) 574-0985.

Consultant James A. Tompkins says one of the most important ways to ensure a “future capable company” is to respond to the forces of change while applying the appropriate technology. Future Capable Company is the title of his new book, which covers manufacturing and the Internet, costs, going global, quality, maintenance and the human capital needed to establish supply chain synthesis. It also outlines the “12 Requirements of Success” for any business. The book is available through Tompkins Associates, (919) 876-3667.

For a real nuts-and-bolts analysis of one of the supply chain’s most important information tools, the Logistics Execution Systems Association offers its new Guide To Understanding and Procuring LES. Designed as a living document that will be updated periodically, this binder is full of resources for any professional embarking on an LES implementation project. It features step-by-step request-for-information and request-for-proposal templates, and helps the reader through a detailed cost justification. Case histories showcase successes in several industries. It is available for $195 from the LESA Group. Contact it at (704) 676-1190, or go to www.mhia.-org/ LESA.

The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) has released Warehousing Benefits Programs: A Survey of Industry Practices. The 262-page book details the different aspects of benefits programs across the warehousing industry. It’s a compilation of data that was received from a survey of WERC members on the issue. The data is broken down by the size of the facility, union vs. non-union environment, geographic location and number of employees.

To purchase a copy, contact the WERC office at (630) 990-0001, or visit the Web site, Price is $50 for members, $100 for non-members.

Conveyor Sales Mixed

The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association (CEMA) reports that through the second quarter, shipments were on pace to match 2000, which was a record year. A significant reduction in new orders indicates that the pace will not be maintained.

CEMA estimates an industry total of $3.6 billion in shipments and $2.8 billion in new orders for the first six months of 2001, according to Fred Sytsma, president. A downturn in order volume occurred in the second quarter and has continued into the third quarter. Executives representing CEMA member companies who attended the fall meeting of the organization were uncertain as to when there will be an upturn.

Jervis Campbell Webb

Jervis C. Webb, chairman emeritus of the Jervis B. Webb Company, died on October 7. With more than 62 years of service at the worldwide material handling systems company, Mr. Webb was a brilliant leader and an innovative visionary with a strong sense of business acumen.

Mr. Webb began his career at the company in 1937. He was named president in 1970, and six years later assumed the role as chairman. He held several patents for material handling devices and authored many articles on material handling, automation, and management philosophies.

Managers on the Move

Penco Products has named Robert Heffernan president following the retirement of Arthur M. Muti.

The Hoover Group has appointed Craig Brown vice president and CIO, with dual responsibilities for the Materials Handling Group and its iTram Division.

Sam Miller has been promoted to vice president of applications engineering at LB International.

Lockheed Martin Distribution Technologies has appointed Cynthia Sailar vice president of Enterprise Mail, a new initiative dedicated to solutions that enable the delivery of integrated, accurate and secure information.

Menasha Corporation has restructured its packaging division and promoted Mike White to regional vice president, Midwest. He will also provide leadership to Solid Fibre and Menasha Display. Jeff Volker has been named regional vice president of the Packaging Company and will lead the Coloma division as well as oversee the Otsego, Michigan, mill and the company’s trucking fleet. Gary Walton has been named vice president of innovation and new product development. Jim Henderson, regional vice president for the South, will assume operating responsibility for the Yukon, Erie and Middlefield locations.

Exel Achieves Accreditation

Exel has achieved accreditation for phase one of Cargo 2000’s quality management system at sites in London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York and Singapore. Exel is the first member of the global air cargo industry group to implement the system at major sites.

Through the introduction of uniform business processes and automated standards, Cargo 2000’s goal is to improve the efficiency of air cargo operations, enhance customer service and reduce operating costs. The data the system generates will also provide an industry benchmark.

MHMGains New Group Publisher

Tony D’Avino, group publisher in Penton Media’s Supply Chain Group, has been assigned publisher responsibilities for both Material Handling Management and Material Handling Business. D’Avino is a 15-year veteran of Penton Media and served most recently as publisher of Transportation and Distribution since 1997.