When it comes to material handling equipment, there’s durable, and then
there’s durable. Portec’s Power Belt curve clearly qualifies as one of the latter.
The Cañon City, Colo.-based conveyor maker says one of its Power Belt units
is still going strong after 37 years of operation in a DC run by Owens Corning
Fiberglass in Newark, Ohio.
The curve was installed on a packaging line in 1973 and has been in nearly
continuous operation ever since, running 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
51 weeks a year. During that time, it has moved more than 2 million tons of
material—in temperatures ranging from - 15 degrees to over 120 degrees.
Although the curve is still in good working order, it is scheduled for an
upgrade because of its age.
Apparently, it’s not an isolated case: Portec says that during a recent tour of
the Newark facility, Owens Corning engineers found two more Power Belt
curves that have been operating under similar conditions since 1971.
Another “oldie but goodie” is the lift truck on display in the rotunda of the
Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing (TIEM) plant in Columbus,
Ind. The vehicle, the first Toyota lift truck sold in the United States, was purchased in 1967 by California grape farmer Charles Anderson.
At the time Toyota Material Handling (USA) discovered the forklift was still
operating, the machine had been in continuous outdoor service for 30 years.
Toyota offered to buy the truck, but Anderson was reluctant to give it up,
according to the company. Former TMHU Chairman and CEO Shankar Basu
stepped in to negotiate, and Anderson was eventually persuaded to trade in
the old workhorse for a new forklift manufactured at TIEM. ;
built to last … and last
when “design by
committee” is a
PHOTO COUR TESY OF HYSTER
U.S. manufacturing output rose in September and
October, according to the Federal Reserve, and it
looks like NACCO Materials Handling Group Inc.
(NMHG) is doing its part. NMHG, which manufactures the Yale and Hyster brand lift trucks, recently
added 401 workers at its Sulligent, Ala.; Berea, Ky.;
Greenville, N.C.; and Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, manufacturing plants. The company is also adding third
shifts in some areas, and the assembly plants in Berea
and Greenville have begun second shifts on some of
their painting and assembly lines.
Most of the new hires are former employees who
had been laid off when business slowed, said
Jonathan Dawley, NMHG’s vice president of marketing, in an interview. Not every job can be restored,
though. “Every organization has streamlined during the recession, but as
capacity starts to increase, we will bring back as many as we can,” he said.
Is this a sign of better days to come? “We aren’t ready to say that the economy is totally out of the woods yet, but we feel that we are in a solid position
to take advantage of the rebound that is occurring,” Dawley said in a separate
lift-truck maker gears up for growth
For many of us, the concept of “design
by committee” has negative connotations—a kind of R&D version of “too
many cooks spoil the broth.” Psion
Teklogix, however, sees it differently.
The mobile computer maker has
created a network of more than 200
developer partners around the world
to spur the development of new applications and designs for Psion’s products. To facilitate collaboration and
information sharing among these
partners, the company earlier this year
launched an online community called
Ingenuity Working. Nearly 900 individuals in Asia, Latin America, the
Middle East, Africa, Europe, and
North America are now connected
through that community.
You might wonder why the company
would choose this approach to development instead of keeping its product
information proprietary. In a blog post
on the community’s website
( IngenuityWorking.com), Todd
Boone, Psion’s director of corporate
communications, discussed the company’s decision to take the open source
route. Psion Teklogix believes the open
source business model is the way of the
future because it’s driven by customers’
needs, not internal corporate imperatives, he wrote. Boone added that success will come when a community of
customers, partners, and developers—
rather than marketing and engineering—makes product decisions.
The approach appears to be working. The company says its new Omnii
XT10 handheld computer incorporates upgradeable and interchangeable
modules that were developed by
Psion’s own engineers and the
Ingenuity Working community. ;