Hard Yakka

The manufacturer of Japan’s first forklift truck and wheel loader, TCM Corporation sees itself as a company that always looks to the future.

“Materials handling is more than simply moving of goods from one place to another,” says NTP Forklift marketing manager Tom Naffine, whose company represents TCM in Australia.

“Nowadays, systematic and value-added integration between the manufacturing process and material flow is regarded as extremely important in order to achieve optimum performance.”

According to Naffine, TCM is highly focused on the real life implications of the industry, which results in a very well engineered, reliable forklift.

“TCM develops and updates forklift models at a greater rate than other brands,” he asserts.

“For example TCM has had three model changes over a ten year period in which most other Japanese forklift brands have only upgraded once.”

“TCM’s ability to develop products quickly comes down to the company’s capability to quickly observe and understand customers’ specific circumstances and worksites,” Naffine says.

Apart from the engine, TCM designs and builds its own forklifts, including masts and transmission.

TCM’s lineup of logistics equipment has won seven industry Good Design Awards.

“The company is dedicated to achieving its corporate mission of developing advanced logistics solutions based on its R&D activities,” says Tom Naffine.

“TCM works to accurately assess user needs and gather information by combining concepts from the fields of mechatronics, electronics, and ergonomics.”

Now owned by Hitachi Construction, products designed for the Australian market are robust. “Within the truck industry there’s a wide disparity of conditions,” Naffine explains.

“You might be operating in Alice Springs in dust and dirt, or in a warehouse in the city with a floor clean enough to eat off.”

“Outdoors in a transport yard, or even inside, the TCM product is a strong, reliable truck that’s engineered to a very high standard,” Naffine says.

“Large customers like Visy Board, in the tough game of recycling won’t have anything else in their seven tonne range, because everything else has failed.

TCM forklifts are also used by the Department of Defence.

Most recently, TCM has been developing and redesigning its core products such as forklift trucks and wheel loaders to meet ever changing customer needs and requirements.

Having launched the iNOMA forklift in Japan, the company has been rolling out the redesigned and upgraded 1.5 to 3.5 tonne IC iNOMA series to global markets.

Notable features include a 45 per cent increase in floor space, a substantial reduction in vibrations with the adoption of dual-floating systems for the engine and hood, and a 50 per cent improvement to visibility.

“Lowering the dashboard by 70mm and the tie bar by 190mm, provides a remarkable improvement to forward views as well as quicker recognition of the fork position,” Naffine says.

“Additionally, the rounded shape of the rear top end of the counterweight substantially increases safety when reversing.” TCM has also developed a three stage mast with a four cylinder mechanism.

By locating the cylinders symmetrically to the sides of the mast TCM has provided a three stage mast without the usual centre cylinder that often hinders an operator’s vision.

So this concept provides significant safety and operational improvements for operators.

“TCM’s traditional robust mast has been further upgraded, to minimise distortion by better positioning the mast supports and tilt cylinders.”

“The iNOMA also has a more economical cooling system with the temperature of coolant reduced by 10 degrees C compared to conventional models.”

“A one-piece floorboard allows for convenient inspection and easy maintenance, as the unit is easily detachable without any special tools.”

“The new diesel engines, while powerful are compliant with worldwide 2nd stage emission controls,” Naffine says.

With Hitachi’s acquisition of the company in 2005, TCM has increased its focus on the export-orientated nature of the forklift industry.

In Australia, Tom Naffine says NTP Forklifts has increased TCM’s market share from one to ten per cent since the 1990s.

Asked what gives NTP its leading edge, Naffine says, “Product range and depth.”

“We do rough terrain as well as the full range of forklifts up to container handlers,” he says. “So we like to think of ourselves as a one-stop shop.”

Originally Adelaide-based, NTP’s two directors grew the product from scratch and both continue to be involved in the daily activities of the company.

“As a privately owned company, we’re more flexible,” Naffine says.

“We can often get decisions through more quickly, where other companies might have to wait for a board meeting or a long approval process.”

“We’ve always prided ourselves on service,” he adds.

“We just get on to help our customers with the best solution. NTP’s service ethos and reputation continues to fly through the company.”

Naffine is coy about when the next TCM forklift model might be released, but given the company’s approach to continual development, he’s willing to say it’s not too far off.

“I’ll be very excited to see the next model,” he says, “because it’ll be the first one developed with Hitachi at the helm. It’s sure to have more improvements.”

Rudd responds to Trucking Industry

The trucking industry and working families will benefit from the Australian Government’s decision to delay increasing the fuel tax paid by trucking operators, the Chief Executive of the Australian Trucking Association, Stuart St Clair, says.

St Clair says the trucking industry was also a winner from the Government’s $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Plan.

“Minister Albanese has listened to the industry and delivered a strong result for trucking operators and Australian families,” Mr St Clair says.

“He inherited a proposal that the National Transport Commission (NTC) developed under the previous government.”

“The proposal would have increased the fuel tax paid by trucking operators from 1 July 2008. The increased charges would have flowed through into the price of almost every product sold in Australia.”

“We argued that the proposal should be rejected completely, but the state and territory governments were determined to push it through,” St Clair says.

“Mr Albanese and the Rudd Government listened to our concerns and were able to delay the increase in the fuel tax until 1 January 2009.”

“The delay will save the industry about $40 million and will help keep prices down for Australian families.”

“The trucking industry will also benefit from the Australian Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Plan,” St Clair says.

Under the plan, the Government will spend $70 million over four years on some of the key safety and productivity issues affecting the industry.

“The plan will fund:

  • the construction of more heavy vehicle rest stops along highways and on the outskirts of Australia’s major cities.
  • upgrades to key freight routes so trucks can carry heavier loads. Upgrading freight routes is a key productivity reform that will enable the industry to keep freight costs down.
  • a trial of using black boxes in trucks to help monitor drivers’ working hours and truck speeds.

“We will be holding discussions with the Government about its plan to index the fuel tax paid by trucking operators,” says Stuart St Clair.

“The trucking industry believes in paying our fair share, but no more than our fair share.”

“We will want to be sure that the indexation does not increase the charges on the industry above what we should be paying,” he says.

Mr Albanese announced the Government’s decision after a meeting of the Australian Transport Council, which consists of the Australian, state and territory transport ministers.

As a result of the meeting, the states and territories will increase registration charges for 69 per cent of the heavy vehicles in Australia.

The increased registration charges will be phased in over three years.

Supply Chains central to transport reforms

Australian Transport Ministers must consider the whole of the supply chain when implementing their new national framework for transport policy agreed at the Australian Transport Council (ATC) last friday.

Chief Executive of the Australian Logistics Council Hal Morris says the pledge by Ministers, State and Federal, to work together must be supported by real reform and tough decisions to clear Australia’s growing supply chain blockages.

“It is vital Ministers do not take their eye off the ball — our national freight supply chain underpins our economy,” Morris says.

Reforms must target, and prioritise, its efficiency and timeliness, particularly through the removal of blockages and more streamlined, rational regulation.”

The ATC agreed to a national approach to transport policy with a national policy framework, a new inter-governmental agreement to implement it, as well as setting key work priorities and timetable.

“Industry recently committed to on-going reform through the National Strategy for the Transport and Logistics Freight Industry setting out seven major recommendations, many of which are reflected in the aspects identified to be actioned by jurisdictions.”

“Industry looks forward to working with government to achieve real results,” Morris says.

The ATC also considered vital issues such as endorsing the Heavy Vehicle Charges Determination and moving toward electronic monitoring of heavy vehicles.

“The phasing of the increase in registration for larger heavy vehicles is a sensible compromise and the $70 million road safety and productivity package is welcomed, but it must recognised considerable work is still to be done, particularly in improving productivity.”

“While the transport and logistics industry is committed to the principle of cost recovery and competitive road and rail pricing, it is critical governments consider decisions to encompass the whole of our supply chain,” Morris says.

In particular, governments must consider the move toward location based pricing as identified in the recent Productivity Commission’s Road/Rail Freight Infrastructure Pricing Report,” he says.

Sky-trax Indoor Vehicle Positioning System

Peacock Bros now exclusively offer “Sky-trax”, an indoor positioning system that will track, record and monitor the activities of any indoor vehicles such as forklifts and pallet stackers.

Accurate up to 3 sq cm, this revolutionary system will greatly improve the performance and management of indoor vehicles in as they operate within your warehouse or distribution centre.

Initial installations have delivered a quick return on investment and dramatic improvements in operational efficiencies.

The Sky-trax system includes a server with software called OPSman which displays in CAD display format your warehouse with illustrations of your forklifts or other indoor vehicles that move in real-time as your vehicles move.

Sky-trax constantly records and gathers data such as distances travelled without a load, the amount of downtime for each vehicle and when and where impacts have occurred for recall and analyzing.

Using a patented optical image reader called Sky-I, mounted on the top of the vehicle and pointed upwards this tracking solution can determine the position, speed and direction of your vehicles by references to roof suspended Sky-Markers.

The Sky-I optical reader communicates with a vehicle mounted mobile computer such as an Intermec CV30 or Motorola VC5090 connected to any WIFI wireless network.

Sky-trax is completely independent with no ongoing access costs and can be fitted in dark, cold, hot or even exposed warehouses without any interference in operational accuracy.

It can manage a single vehicle or your entire indoor fleet no matter what your warehouse or distribution centre layout is.

The OPSman software tracks the movements of all your indoor vehicles and produce reports on operational efficiency, downtime, heavy traffic areas and hazard zones.

An additional “breadcrumb” feature will show the areas of your warehouse that receive the most traffic so that you can adjust your work areas for maximum efficiency.

Constant real-time monitoring without error ensures that your operation can track and trace vehicles and stock at any time and control your operations as the events occur.

Combining this technology with RFID readers mounted on your forklift load backrests and RFID SSCC labels will give you a system that not only tracks the position of your vehicles, but your inventory as well.

You can even leave an RFID tagged pallet of stock in the middle of the floor and it will display the pallets’ exact location.

Pallets can be stored up to 6 bays high or 20 pallets deep with complete visibility. Missing stock becomes a thing of the past and accurate stock rotation is no longer a problem.

For 120 years Peacock Bros. have been providing business management solutions throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Our Data Division specialises in designing and custom installations of automated inventory management solutions for the Transport, Logistics and Warehousing industries.

The Sky-trax Indoor Vehicle Positioning System is a result of our dedication to research and development and understanding of your business needs.

For more information contact Peacock Bros. on: 1300 723 282 or email: pbsales@peacocks.com.au

Cars are doomed energy experts warn

Car travel must be cut by at least 80 per cent, road construction halted and public transport boosted if Australia is to have any hope of meeting carbon emission targets to avoid dangerous climate change, Monash University energy experts warn.

The experts say Federal and State Governments should stop spending money building new arterial roads and focus on phasing-out cars, improving the energy efficiency of public transport and making people use it.

The warnings come from Associate Professor Damon Honnery and Dr Patrick Moriarty, experts in alternative energy at Monash’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

“The car is doomed,” Associate Professor Honnery says.

“Ultimately, we are going to have to move to a decentralised society where most people need to travel far less.”

“People are going to have to fundamentally change the way they think about travel and make much more use of non-motorised travel such as cycling and walking.”

While the researchers say the drastic changes they are proposing are needed if Australia’s transport sector is to meet the 2050 CO2 emission reduction targets, the Australian Trucking Association points out that 75% of Australia’s domestic freight currently goes by truck, and there is simply no alternative to moving freight by road in most cases.

“The ATA would support increased spending on public transport in order to create a less congested road network and reduce carbon emissions,” says Chief Executive stuart St Clair.

“We do stress, however, that the spending should be in addition to governments’ road funding and not in place of it, because the industry needs better roads so we can use more productive vehicles with lower carbon emissions.”

“The amount of freight on Australia’s roads is growing rapidly,” St Clair says.

“Every trucking operator and professional driver knows we need better roads in urban areas to reduce congestion and better long-distance road links to improve safety and travel times.”

Despite this, the Monash University researchers say the community seems to accept the need for drastic CO2 emission reductions.

But there is still a widespread perception that technical advances alone will provide the reductions needed in the transport sector is way off the mark.

“Our calculations show that not even the best combination of fuel efficiency, hybrid and electric cars, alternative fuels and car pooling could provide the reductions needed to meet the 2050 targets for avoiding dangerous climatic change,” Associate Professor Honnery says.

In their research paper, Mitigating greenhouse: Limited time, limited options, soon to be published in the Energy Policy journal, the researchers say that their analysis of available technical solutions shows that the big emission cuts needed in the transport sector require “a near-total shift from the private car to public transport”.

Dr Moriarty says big reductions in air travel are also needed.

“An overseas trip might become a once in a life time experience rather than an annual event,” he says.

Pacific Brands targets handling processes

Pacific Brands was seeking to improve the efficiency of handling processes and OH&S at its Australian distribution centres.

By implementing CHEPStretch, the manufacturer was able to reduce capital outlay, ongoing maintenance and wrapping costs as well as improve safety and productivity.

Pacific Brands manufactures, sources and delivers more than 160,000 different products with items ranging from golf balls and underwear to mattresses and carpet underlay.

Internationally, the company handles over 250 million units every year, with 625,000 units passing through their distribution centres every day.

Already a CHEP pallet customer, Pacific Brands identified inefficiencies in handling processes at its distribution centres.

Wrapping machines were using excessive volumes of film, machines were aging and maintenance costs increasing.

Gabriel Sekias, Pacific Brands Project Manager, met with Perc Valeri, the company’s CHEP representative, to discuss the options available to them.

Following an assessment of their needs, Pacific Brands trialled both automatic and semi-automatic CHEPStretch systems at the Tontine and King Gee distribution centres in Queensland and Victoria.

The dramatic results of the trial compelled the company to implement CHEPStretch.

Trial results showed a significant reduction in the amount of wrap needed, leading to cost savings and more efficient processes.

Productivity increased due to reduced downtime and safety was markedly improved.

Pacific Brands prides itself on a commitment to safety and injury management.

In some distribution centres, employees had to climb out of their forklifts to activate the wrapping machines, becoming exposed to the potential risk of injury from other forklift drivers.

Since the installation of the CHEPStretch machines, forklift drivers no longer have to leave their vehicles.

They deposit the pallet, activate the wrapping machine, and drive away to collect another.

This has increased productivity and reduced a significant workplace hazard.

The CHEPStretch system includes the wrapping machines themselves, a high quality pre-stretch film, and preventative maintenance.

CHEPStretch machines range from simple semi-automatics to fully automatic machines that automate the whole wrapping process.

There is no capital outlay for customers as they are billed per pallet wrapped.

To increase efficiency, CHEP makes predictions about the quantity of film needed in each location by analysing Pacific Brand’s own operating data — in much the same way as CHEP’s award winning Automotive Logistics Management System (CALM) determines packaging needs for the automotive industry.

Gabriel Sekias, says the decision to use the CHEPStretch service was an easy one.

“CHEP’s preventative maintenance program minimises downtime for any repairs, and the volume of wrap required has been significantly reduced by replacing the old, inefficient machines,” he says.

“Most importantly, the CHEPStretch system has improved workplace safety for our people.”

“We’ve seen a substantial decrease in the amount of film required, as the machine uses a measured amount of wrap that is stretched to tightly secure the pallet load therefore utilising less wrap,” sekias says.

“We prefer to lease the equipment, and CHEP offered flexible terms — we tied the length of the hire contract to the leases on each property. CHEP allowed us to make decisions that suit our needs.”

“OH&S, and in particular traffic management, has improved due to the operators remaining on their forklift. This removes a hazard from our workplace,” he enthuses.

Regal Cream chooses robots

Regal Cream, producer of the popular Australian Bulla brand of dairy products, has found it easier to palletise bottles with a robot from ABB Australia than do it by hand.

In 1910, Thomas Sloan established Bulla Cream Co., now called Regal Cream, at Moonee Ponds, a Melbourne suburb, where milk was pasteurised by standing open cream cans in coppers fired by wood.

Cream was collected from the country region of Bulla and then transported by horse and cart to the city and the Bulla brand was born.

Now one of the top names in dairy Down Under, the Bulla brand of creams, yoghurts, cream cheese and other dairy products is well-known throughout Australia.

The production of dairy products has changed dramatically in the nearly hundred years since the company’s founding.

At Regal Cream’s new greenfield plant in Colac, South Western Victoria, for example, Bulla products are now palletised using four ABB FlexPalletizer robotic palletising systems with IRB 640 robots, two laser-guided automated vehicles (AGVS) and a pallet management system.

The robots are currently palletising six of the 10 lines in the Regal Cream factory.

The lines process up to 300 bottles a minute, and the bottles then have to be stacked, palletized, wrapped and refrigerated within 10 minutes.

All this is now achieved totally automatically, with the only human intervention being the touch of a button to change product lines and to monitor the controls.

In addition, laser-guided forklifts have replaced manual forklifts in the palletising area and operate seamlessly with the whole system.

In a potentially incident-free environment the robots meets Regal Cream’s productivity requirements without any bottlenecks at all, which had been one of the company’s concerns.

“The installation has exceeded the expectations of our management in every respect, including on-time delivery, budget and performance,” says Regal Cream representative.

“We’ve also had huge improvements in the OH & S arena. The palletising robots have released 20 people from physically demanding work with occupational health risks into control and operational roles that allow them to use their intellectual capabilities much more.”

“We’re all reaping the benefit of their improved well-being and morale,” the spokesperson says.

“Robotic automation systems such as these are highly effective in ramping up production, reducing ongoing operational costs and enhancing customers’ competitive edge,” says Derek Ford, sales manager – Consumer Industries.

The robot palletising system provides a number of benefits for Regal Cream.

  • Manpower reduced
  • Production ramped up
  • Virtually no bottle-necks
  • Fewer health and safety risks
  • Higher morale

For more information

Introducing new products

Design has a great product in development, marketing and sales know it will be a knockout, and manufacturing and supply have the capacity to make it.

Why then don’t new products just roll smoothly into the market?

Generally because key decisions on product features, market position, sourcing and supply chain strategy are left too late, or are not considered sufficiently well to be effectively implemented.

APICs is offering a one day course on 27 March aimed at getting products into your supply chain and to customers in an effective and sustainable way.

The course highlights these areas and describes the actions a business can take to make new product introduction a market advantage.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, you will have a greater understanding of the steps required to move a product from the later stages of design through the realisation phase and into the hands of customers.

The course describes in detail the activities involved in ramping up a supply chain for product launch and emphasises the cross functional nature of successful new product introduction.

The roles of all of the business disciplines and their interactions in the NPI process are explained.

Outcomes

By attending this course you will have a better understanding of why:

  • NPI should be a company wide activity and how working in effective cross functional teams is essential
  • Regular review of product development and introduction activity keeps the team focussed and aligned
  • Carefully selecting and engaging suppliers can increase launch performance
  • Creating and testing demand, capacity & inventory plans allows you to truly understand the whole supply chains sensitivity to inputs
  • Discovering what you don’t know can help you take an open and pragmatic approach to risk management

Format

The course will centre on a simulation of a product development and launch that will leave you with a sense of the commercial and operational realities of product launch.

A number of practical guides will be presented and discussed.

Real-life OHS success stories

Finalists in the WorkSafe Awards and other organisations that have excelled in workplace safety will tell their own stories at April’s Safety In Action workplace safety trade show.

To be held concurrently with Melbourne Materials Handling from April 29 to May 1 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Safety In Action is expected to again draw a crowd of over 10,000 business people to visit three acres of exhibits.

Last year, one in every three visitors represented manufacturers.

Among the diverse products and services displayed by the 350 or more companies at the two shows will be conveyors, height safety products, lifting aids, waste management systems, and workplace psychologists.

One of the new products tipped to be of particular appeal to the engineering and manufacturing industries is the WorkFlow ventilation system for hard hats exhibited by Wrights Hardware.

Complementing the exhibits is a Case Study Showcase, which organiser, Marie Kinsella of Australian Exhibitions & Conferences, says will inspire visitors to act.

“Many of the case studies we’ve selected show how businesses have used some of the technology on display at Safety In Action to make a real difference at their workplaces,” Kinsella says.

“The case studies are not theoretical, they’re practical, real-world examples of safety at work that you just can’t ignore.”

“Cemex, for example, will tell how Health by Design’s injury reduction program contributed to achieving a 66 per cent reduction in lost time injuries and a 54 per cent reduction in recordable injuries in New South Wales.”

Other case studies involve the control of forklift access to shared work areas at Armstrong World Industries’ Melbourne distribution centre by Leda-Vannaclip, the award-winning No Bolt scaffolding system, and how a branding exercise for AWB Limited by HPR Creative has made safety a hot topic in agribusiness.

The Case Study Showcase will be presented on each of the three days of the Safety In Action and Melbourne Materials Handling trade shows.

Visitors to both the shows can attend the case study presentations free of charge.

Melbourne Materials Handling and Safety In Action run from April 29 to May 1 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

Online registration at www.safetyinaction.net.au is free.

The Safety Institute of Australia will host the concurrent Safety In Action Conference sponsored by WorkSafe Victoria and featuring 70 speakers including former Telstra chief, Ziggy Switkowski.

DHL transport & distribution training program

Express and logistics company DHL has partnered with JJ Cahill Memorial High School in Sydney to offer year 11 students a two year, school-based traineeship in transport and distribution.

Launched this week, the vocational education training (VET) program, which will be taught as part of the school curriculum, will give students who complete Certificate II in Transport & Distribution the skills they need to work in the express and logistic industry.

Students who enrol in the course over years 11 and 12 will spend a minimum of 100 days of paid employment on-the job over the period.

Student Trent Dale, who is undertaking the program, explains that he wants to gain work experience while still at school.

“I think it will provide more career options for me to follow after school and my parents are proud and happy for me,” he says

Mrs. Linda Clinch, HR Manager, DHL Express Oceania says partnering with JJ Cahill Memorial High School to offer a subject that combines theory and experience in the burgeoning freight and logistics industry could not have come at a better time.

“Due to globalisation, declining trade barriers and greater network connectivity, the industry continues to enjoy above average growth.”

“Students at JJ Cahill Memorial High School who complete the Certificate II in Transport & Distribution will have a head start on the skills they need to begin their career in this dynamic industry,” Clinch says.

As part of the program, students will learn how to prioritise courier and delivery operations, safely use manual handling methods and customer service skills.

The aim is to help smooth the transition from school to the workforce.

“Through the program, we have been able to provide greater opportunities for students and enrich the experiences of our own staff,” Clinch says.

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