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(Editor’s Note: In this week’s Thursday Feature, we take a look at a crime that may be rising in popularity: Business identity theft.)

chemical spill

Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society via Wikimedia Commons

Individuals have been victimized by identity theft for many years. But now sophisticated thieves are turning their attention to bigger fish: Major corporations.

Case in point: Less than a week after it announced that it was merging with one of the world’s biggest materials handling equipment manufacturers, the Finnish crane maker Konecranes revealed that one of its subsidiaries apparently lost up to $19.2 million as part of an identity theft fraud.

So far, Konecranes is keeping most of the details about the reported theft under wraps, declining to reveal even what country in which it occurred. But it did acknowledge in a statement that one of its foreign subsidiaries had been duped out of a huge amount of money.

“The perpetrators have through identity theft and other fraudulent actions managed to induce a subsidiary to make unwarranted payments in a total amount of up to EUR 17.2 million,” the company stated in a news release. “Konecranes has reported the crime to the police authorities in the relevant countries and is working closely with the authorities to recover its losses and to bring the perpetrators of the fraud to justice.”

The announcement came on Friday, August 14. On the previous Monday, Konecranes announced that it was merging with US-based Terex, one of the world’s biggest makers of cranes, forklift, and other heavy-duty materials handling equipment. The all-stock deal will leave Terex shareholders with 60% of the stock in the new company, which will be called Konecranes Terex PLC.

Some of the Losses Insured

About $11 million of Konecranes losses may be covered by its crime insurance policy, but if the money’s not recovered shareholders could be on the hook for the remaining $8.2 million. Given that the company has annual sales of $2.7 billion, that loss is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things.

Still, it could leave shareholders questioning the management ability of the effective subsidiary’s executives, if not Konecranes as a whole.

In its news release, Konecranes was careful to point out that the stolen funds “do not affect Konecranes ability to generate an operating profit (and) they will not affect the 2015 financial guidance previously published by Konecranes.”

Company officials said they went public with the crime to “help other companies avoid becoming victims of similar crimes.” But in reality the company likely was required to report such a huge loss to regulators.

In either case, the incident could have been a huge embarrassment to the company and its leadership. But the company did not experience a substantial drop in its stock value in the wake of the announcement. In fact, the stock’s value was still trading higher in the wake of the merger announcement.

Businesses Make Easier Targets?

While criminals have targeted individuals for identity theft for more than a decade, business identity theft may be on the rise.

Business identity theft is different than the type of highly publicized information security breaches that have hit Target, TJ Maxx, and other big companies in recent years. Instead, rather than stealing the personal information of a business’s customers, thieves impersonate the business itself.

It can occur through the theft or misuse or business credentials, manipulating or falsifying business filings or records, applying for credit, and defrauding suppliers, banks, the business’s owners and officers, unsuspecting consumers, and even government.

It should be noted that the specific details of the Konecranes incident are not yet known, so this description of business identity theft is only a general discussion and do not necessarily reflect what happened in that case, which is still under investigation.

Why Target Business’s Identities?

There are a number of reasons why thieves are becoming bolder and targeting businesses for identity theft rather than individuals.  For one thing, companies have more money. Corporations may have millions in cash on hand in their corporate bank accounts. And even small businesses typically will have a minimum of $5,000 to $10,000 in cash in the bank.

Banks and other loan companies are often more eager to lend to businesses than they are to individuals. That’s because businesses typically spend more than individuals, so the profit potential for banks and financial institutions is higher. Some corporations have very high credit limits with the institutions they work with.

Sophisticated Thieves

Another factor is spending. Credit card companies will often send out a fraud alert when unusual or unexpected spikes are seen in the purchases of individual consumers. But many businesses can make larger purchases with less scrutiny from their lenders or creditors.

Small businesses tend to be more vulnerable to business identity theft because they usually have less security and oversight. Most corporations — especially those that are publicly traded — will have sophisticated security technology designed to sniff out fraud.

Stealing the personal information of individuals — such as their Social Security, credit card, bank account and PIN numbers — is relatively difficult because most people try to keep this information private.

But the information many thieves need to commit business identity theft — such as sales tax numbers and business license numbers — are often made public as required by law. State business registration information is a public record in the US.



Arranging Inventory in a Warehouse

01 Sep 2015

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It is beyond essential that warehouse personnel know exactly where products are so that they can be picked efficiently. Obviously, you should not locate the most popular products in extreme locations and the least popular in spaces with the best access. It should be the other way around.

To set up the inventory it is probably best to be able to quickly visualize where each and every product is at a glance.

Product identification information should be on the box that contains the products. This assures pickers won't open up boxes to find what they want and boxes remain closed. (Courtesy: fivequidexpert at

Product identification information should be on the box that contains the products. This assures pickers won’t open up boxes to find what they want and boxes remain closed.
(Courtesy: fivequidexpert at

Step One

Take a good size sheet of paper and create a floor plan of the warehouse on it.

Step Two

Take a pad of 3M post’ems and write a name for each section of the warehouse, then place the stickers on the appropriate part of the floor plan.

Step Three

Break down your inventory into categories, give each category a name, write the name down for each category on one slip of 3M post’ems, then figure out the best locations to store each categories products on your floor plan and slap the appropriate sticker on to the appropriate place on the floor plan. Locate like products in the same space.

Step Four

Select the appropriate shelving on which you will store the products. Keep in mind that you will be stacking the products vertically instead of horizontally. This saves on space.

Step Five

Once you have decided where each product will be stored, create signs for the products. Each sign will be put on the appropriate shelf. You can post the signs and create storage space by product name, product number, or product category. In your plan make certain that each product is properly labeled so that you can easily track and store each product. For example, you can identify your inventory by SKU number, type of product and a description. This way whoever is picking knows exactly what he is picking.

Step Six

Make certain that all the identification information is on the box that contains the products. This way pickers will not have to open up boxes to find what they need and boxes can remain closed.

Step Seven

Develop and write down a policy on how employees are to process incoming inventory. Make certain that there is a plan on how to keep aisles clear.

Step Eight

Develop and then write down a process for shipping inventory. Include who is responsible for inputting invoices into the inventory tracking system, and make certain that as products are picked they are deducted from inventory levels. Also identify who pulls inventory from the shelves and how the product is shipped to the customer.

Step Nine

Evaluate the layout. Once everything has been arranged and the warehouse gets into operation, take a regular look at the layout of each department and each part of the inventory. If you find that the shelves you selected aren’t working or there is a problem with a particular part of the inventory process, decide on changes you can make that will improve the inventory arrangement and enhance the processing of orders.

Image courtesy of Mikadiou (via Wikimedia Commons)

Image courtesy of Mikadiou (via Wikimedia Commons)

A Cook County judge last week awarded a Wisconsin man $15.2 million in connection with an incident in which his foot was run over by a 58,000-pound forklift.

Thomas Neuhengen, 33, of Cudahy, Wisconsin, was working at the massive convention center as part of his job as spare parts manager for Hermle Machine Co., which was exhibiting milling machines at the 2012 International Manufacturing Technology show at Chicago’s McCormick Place, according to news reports.

Neuhengen and a crew were tearing down the company’s booth at the end of the show when he was knocked down by a forklift, which then ran over his left foot.

He required four surgeries and the use of leeches to keep his blood circulating as he recovered. While doctors were able to save most of Neuhengens’ foot, he will feel the effects for the rest of his life,  according to his attorneys.

Iraq Veteran Injured After Returning Home

Neuhengen, who served as a staff sergeant in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and saw two tours in Iraq, lost his ability to walk normally as a result of the accident, which has been called one of the worst in McCormick Place’s history.

After the incident, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the show’s producers for four safety violations.

The accident occurred after a state-mandated overhaul of McCormick Place’s operations allowed for smaller labor crews. The move was aimed at reducing exhibitor’s costs and making Chicago more competitive with rival cities for the nation’s biggest conventions.

The deal was brokered between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and then-Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, unions and private contractors that hire laborers to set up and tear down trade shows in the wake of the scandal.

Change in Work Rules May Have Contributed to Accident

Prior to the deal, union rules required the use of two- or three-man crews for certain tasks. But the new pact limited crew sizes to two unless the agency that manages McCormick Place — the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, commonly known as the “McPier” Authority — specifically authorizes it for safety reasons.

Neuhengen has said that the forklift that struck him had a crew of one and no spotters.

The suit named as defendants Global Experience Specialists, Inc., the general contractor the was responsible for setting up and tearing down the show; the McPier Authority; SMG, Inc., the private company brought in to manage McCormick Place in the wake of the cleanup; the Association for Manufacturing Technology, which owns the show; and the forklift’s operator, Frederick Neirinckz, a member of the riggers’ union who was working for GES at the time of the accident.





Here is a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find this week on the Bahrns blog:

  • A Wisconsin man was  awarded $15.2 million in connection with an incident in which his food was run over by a forklift. We’ll tell you why a judge gave the man such a huge sum …
  • Inventory write-offs, inventory reserve and write-downs. How can you tell the difference? We’ll explain …
  • By this point, practically every has heard about identity theft. But what about business identity theft? It’s a big deal and getting bigger.  We’ll tell you why and what to watch out for …

All this and much, much more can be found this week on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!



Recycled Plastic Speed BumpIf you are experiencing an increase in the number of vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-pedestrian accidents at your facility, it may be because drivers aren’t slowing down when they should.

Installing speed bumps is an effective yet affordable way to slow traffic in heavily congested areas. The force vehicles to slow down otherwise risk damage by rolling over the steep bumps.

Short Yet Powerful Deterrent

Standing only three to six inches tall, speed bumps provide just enough of a deterrent to slow cars down without stopping or inhibiting traffic altogether. They are highly effective at lowering traffic speeds, resulting in slower drivers and less traffic to reduce accident rates.

Speed bumps also can reduce the volume of traffic moving through a particular area. When drivers realize that a street or roadway features speed bumps, they often will seek out alternate routes to get where they want to go.

Work Right Away

One of the best things about speed bumps is that they can provide instant results. While public streets often feature speed bumps made of asphalt or other construction compounds, in industrial settings and on private property speed bumps made of heavy-duty recycled plastic can be put into place immediately.

Not only are they faster to install, but recycled plastic speed bumps are also more affordable than asphalt or poured concrete speed bumps. Their product cost is lower and there isn’t the labor cost to consider.

Portability and Durability

Speed bumps are also portable. They can be placed anywhere you want to slow down traffic, from potentially hazardous driveways to parking areas where a special event is being held. They can be used individually or placed end-to-end to create a broader traffic deterrent.

Plus they are durable. Made of tough, hard plastic made from recycled materials, they are resistant to oil, salt, sun and moisture.

The Downside of Speed Bumps

There aren’t many drawbacks to speed bumps. Some argue that they can be dangerous to bicyclists and motorcyclists, but generally there aren’t going to be a lot of these types of vehicles in an industrial or commercial setting. And even if they are, drivers who use caution have nothing to worry about.

Another concern is increased noise associated with drivers hitting the brakes in order to avoid going over the speed bump at top speed. But this is a small cost to pay for the increased safety and security. If one person is saved from injury as the result of a speed bump, that’s probably worth all the barking brakes it causes.


Port of Shanghai

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia and in the public domain

Konecranes and Terex, two of the world’s biggest makers of cranes, forklift and other heavy-duty materials handling equipment, have announced that they will merge.

The all-stock deal will leave Terex shareholders with 60% of the stock in the new company, which will be called Konecranes Terex PLC.

Huge Tax Break

The new company will be located in Finland, home to Konecranes and where the corporate tax rate is only 20% compared to the 35% tax rate in the US. Prior to the merger, Terex was headquartered in Westport, Connecticut, and the newly formed company will maintain offices there.

The deal is expected to be completed during the first half of 2016. Konecranes, which has annual sales of $2.7 billion, builds cranes for factories, warehouses and ports. Its biggest competitors are Japan’s Kito, China’s ZPMC, and the US company Columbus McKinnon

Terex has annual sales of about $7.3 billion and makes cranes and equipment for miners and builders. Its biggest rivals are Caterpillar and Finland’s Metso.

The new company is expected to have annuals sales of about $10 billion. Within three or four years after the merger is complete, it will have projected sales of $10.6 billion with a projected operating profit of $1.1 billion, according to new reports.

The Changing Face of Terex

In recent years, Terex has attempted to expand its presence in the factory crane market by buying the German company Demag Cranes AG in 2011 for $1.36 billion.

But Terex since the global economic slowdown, Terex has struggled to deliver higher sales and profits because the global demand for heavy equipment has been inconsistent. In response, the company has sold equipment lines and cut costs.

The new company will be one of the biggest players in the industrial and port crane markets. But these industries have been slow to respond to the economic turnaround and global annual sales have expanded at a paltry 2% to 4% in recent years.

While cranes are something companies buy infrequently, there is always a strong market for replacement parts and maintenance services. And as ports, factories and other facilities become more automated, there may be an increased demand for newer, better performing cranes in the coming years.

Good Timing for the US Heavy Equipment Maker

The merger couldn’t have come at a better time for Terex. In addition to the tax benefits, there also are market forces at play.

Most of the new company’s revenues – about 45% — will come from industrial and port cranes. And the merger with Konecranes means Terex will be less reliant on its work platform division, a product line that includes motorized lifts for window washers, painters, and workers moving materials at construction sites.

Work platforms are often one of the first things to be cut from purchasing lists when the economy struggles. Terex officials have publicly indicated that the demand for work platforms is likely to decrease in the next year but denied rumors that the market is on the verge of collapse.

At the same time, Terex’s construction crane business has been in a prolonged slump since 2008, when the economic downturn caused the plug to be pulled on many big commercial construction projects.



Inventory That Should be in Warehouses

25 Aug 2015

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There are retailers who need warehouse back up to assure that the shelves stay full. (Courtesy: Habitat for Humanity in LaCross, WI.

There are retailers who need warehouse back up to assure that the shelves stay full.
(Courtesy: Habitat for Humanity in LaCross, WI.

There are businesses who can stock a lot of inventory on site and then there are businesses that need to rely on a warehouse for back up. The question begs to be asked. What type of inventory is warehouse inventory?

Warehouse managers who have knowledge in inventory management say that raw material; maintenance, repair or operation (MRO) inventory; merchandise; and finished products are ideal items to store in a warehouse.

Raw Materials

Manufacturing plants that use raw materials to make finished products are ideal candidates for having warehouse support. The plant doesn’t have to waste space that may be necessary on something that they don’t need immediately. An off-site warehouse permits the plant to handle variations in production due to the orders it receives.

For example, let’s say a plant unexpectedly receives a large order. What happens if they don’t have enough of the finished product inventoried on site to fill the order? They have to make more products. Instead of having to order the raw materials it needs to make those products, which can add down time to the production process, the manufacturer can simply call the warehouse for the additional raw materials it needs.

Raw materials can be defined as anything that needs to be purchased from an outside source that is necessary for use in the production process. That can include chemicals, minerals, or grains as well as nuts, bolts, wheels, or ball bearings.

MRO Inventory

Manufacturing facilities rely on their machines to work. However, when one breaks down, they need a replacement part pronto. Well, it’s going to be the warehouse that saves the day. Any items that are used in the maintenance, repair, or operation of a production facility are included in this category. That not only includes spare parts for the machinery, it also involves oils, lubricants, and other items that are needed to service the production process.


Retail stores that rely on having merchandise available risk the possibility of lost sales and unhappy customers if those products are not present when the shopper wants to buy them.  A warehouse assures that the items are available when the customers want it. Having enough inventories on hand or in the warehouse means that retailers don’t have to back order items causing customers to wait. And that means that the selling and shipping process performs smoothly.

Finished Products

Then there are manufacturers who must produce products based on orders. These manufacturers may run their operation continuously so that there are always enough products available. This business needs a warehouse where it can transport and store the finished product so that it has enough space for the production of the next batch of products.

The warehouse cannot only store the products, but it can also receive and ship out orders so that the manufacturing facility doesn’t have to worry about it.

In short, a business needs warehouse back up to supply assistance to the manufacturing segment in the production process and to fill orders when the production facility can’t.

(Next: How to set up inventory in a warehouse)


Here’s a special sneak preview of some of the stories you will find this week on the Bahrns blog:

  • Stocking your warehouse? We’ll take a look at some of the must-have items every warehouse can’t do without …
  • A small Indiana town just got a big boost from one of the world’s largest heavy equipment manufacturers. We’ll tell you where it happened and what it means for local residents …
  • Two of the world’s biggest heavy equipment makers are tying the not. We’ll show you the long-term implications for the material handling industry from the latest corporate merger …
  • Speed bumps save lives. We’ll show you how a tiny investment in this simple technology can substantially reduce the number of accidents at your facility …

All this and much, much more can be found this week on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!



forkliftToyota unveiled an expansion to its forklift manufacturing facility recently in the tiny town of Columbus, Indiana.

The Japanese company invested $11 million in its Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing facility in the town of 30,000 that lies about 45 miles south of Indianapolis. The expansion adds 108,000 square feet to the plant and includes a distribution facility and customer service center that offers “the ultimate experience.”

High Tech Customer Experience

A lot of carmakers and heavy equipment manufacturers often park one of the vehicles that are made at its plant out front as an example of the work that is done inside.

But Toyota has taken it a step further by including an interactive showroom where visitors can see, touch and climb into the vehicles that are made at the facility.

The company plans to fly selected dealers to the plant on its corporate jet so they can visit the expanded facility. Once they arrive, they will be able to tour a high-tech showroom that feature both the newest and the oldest forklifts, including the first lift truck made in the US, according to news reports.

Guests also will be taken to a theater where they will receive a personalized presentation. Afterwards, a the theater wall will recede into the ceiling to reveal lift trucks being field-tested in the plant’s demonstration room.

New North American HQ

The expansion prompted Toyota Materials Handling USA to move its North American headquarters to Columbus from Irvine, California.

Most of the Toyota forklifts used in the US are built at the Columbus plant. The latest expansion increases the size of the facility to more than 1 million square feet on 126 acres. It included 21,400 square feet of new office space.

The expansion enables better communications between workers, improved products and services, and a better experience for customers.

More Expansion Planned

While the paint has barely dried on the newest expansion, Toyota plans to spend $16 million to further expand its US new product development division at the plant to improve support for the North American market. Once completed, that 50,600 square foot addition will increase total facility size to 1.1 million square feet.

The new building and renovation will not only expand its production capabilities, but also will include room for human development activities, new product development, and the company’s Vision 2020 strategic initiatives. There will be a new two-story office building, cafeteria, storm shelter, locker room, and an expanded on-site medical center for Toyota employees and their families.

The Columbus plant employees 759 people but the second expansion will increase that number to more than 1,000.

While that may seem like a lot, Toyota employs about 5,000 people at its assembly plant in Princeton, Indiana, where it makes its Highlander, Sequoia, and Sienna vehicles.


DHL Article

Photo courtesy of DHL

The German-based package delivery service DHL has launched a pilot project in which customer’s Amazon orders are delivered directly to the trunks of their cars.

The partnership between DHL-Parcel, Amazon, and the German car manufacturer Audi is being rolled out this summer on a trial basis throughout Germany. If it’s successful, it could be used in the US and elsewhere to connect Amazon customers with their orders more quickly and efficiently.

Automated Delivery Service

The way it works is this: Amazon customers who own Audis place their orders on, the German version of the world’s largest online retailer.

DHL drivers then use a specially developed smartphone GPS app to locate the Audi.  Once they do, the trunk is automatically opened byAudi via a remote computer. Once the DHL driver places the package in the trunk, the car automatically locks itself.

An email is then instantly generated and sent to the customer notifying them that their package has been safely delivered to the trunk of their car.

German Engineering and Efficiency

The service will first be rolled out in the greater metropolitan Munich area over the course of several months. Amazon customers who also are Audi owners will be invited to take part in the trial program.

Jurgen Gerdes, a board member of DHL’s German Post, eCommerce and Parcel division, said the package delivery company is constantly seeking new ways to improve the quality of the experience for its customers.

“As an innovation leader in the parcel industry, we continually work with our partners to develop innovative solutions for the ever-growing number of parcel customers and to set new trends,” Gerdes said in a DHL news release. “This pilot project for car trunk delivery for private customers is unique in the German parcel industry. It demonstrates once again our market and innovation leadership as well as our commitment to parcel delivery services tailored more and more to the individual needs of our costumers.”

‘Hey, My Order’s Here!’

The service is expected to be popular among commuters who park their cars in Park & Ride lots. Once the service becomes popular, the DHL delivery person can theoretically deliver dozens of packages to cars in the same lot at the same time.

From the customer’s perspective, the service is designed to be simple, transparent and easily manageable throughout the entire process –from the ordering, to transport, to delivery to the trunk of their car.

Plus, who wouldn’t love finding a package in the trunk of their car when they get home from work?



DHL Article