The line in the sand may be drawn in a different place, in a different continent in fact, but it will be very much the same war for overhead lifting equipment and component companies.

Like-minded firms, largely from the United States, line up against the dominant force in the materials handling market – lift trucks – at NA08, Cleveland, the largest material handling show in the Americas this year, next month (April). And for exhibitors at CeMAT in May, which is held every three years, the mission statement reads the same.

On a show floor packed with storage and automation equipment and lift trucks (there will be more than ever this year) it is so important that overhead lifting equipment is given the exposure it deserves.

I am passionate about promoting overhead lifting above all other forms of material handling. Gorbel Inc., for example, recently supplied work station cranes to eliminated the need for forklift trucks at an air conditioning manufacturer in Kansas. The word is slowly spreading.

This particular firm was seeking a way to get its packaged air conditioning units off the assembly line and load them onto trailers. It had been using forklifts but this method was inefficient, and all the fork truck traffic led to congestion on the plant floor.

The end user considered an automated conveyor system, but a free standing bridge crane with aluminum bridges was the preferred option.

The end user used it with a custom designed “stacker crane” end effector. This unique end tooling had 360 degree rotation, can move up and down, and had forks to lift the pallets.

The crane system allows the customer to load the trailer faster than was possible with the fork trucks, and all the congestion from the truck traffic was eliminated.

We will be trying to get this message through to the sales channels during CeMAT and we will be well practiced fresh from the NA show floor!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Only when we unite forces against the lift truck business will we gain a priceless portion of the massive slice of the market they currently enjoy.

First things first, I’m off to the States tomorrow (Saturday) in preparation for the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) Spring Meeting, which takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Enjoy the weekend.

Richard Howes, Editor