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tractor trailer

Photo courtesy of Greg Goebel via Wikimedia Commons

A UK-based company has combined a few common sensor technologies to create a new safety system for trucks that can alert drivers when they are in danger of colliding with cyclists and other obstacles.

The Bike Hotspot, developed by Sentinel Systems — a family-owned business based in Gloucestershire — features sensors located at the front and sides of a truck that can detect when a cyclist is nearby. The system also features internal audio collision alarm systems to alert drivers to potential dangers.

The Bike Hotspot system also include an external alarm that is sounded to warn cyclists when the vehicle is turning left.

Safety System  Customizable

Optional features include:

  • Thea ability to silence the alarms at night and switch to alternative LED warning lights to notify cyclists and other drivers when the truck is turning.
  • Scanners that can detect cyclists at pre-defined distances and height to avoid sensing cars or pedestrians that are not at risk and unnecessarily  triggering the alarm.
  • A Controller Area Network (CAN) for use on buses that can ensure the alarm is triggered only when the bus is moving at speeds lower than 10 mph.
  • Side cameras that can show the driver what is happening on all sides of his vehicle. All of the cameras feature dust and water protection technology.

Cyclists in  Danger

Bicyclists are in read danger, especially on busy urban streets. In 2012, there were 726 fatal accidents involving cyclists and motor vehicles in the US, or about two people per day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

And the total number of people injured in cycling accidents rose to 49,000 that same year, up 1,000 from the previous year.

Bicycling accidents are much more likely to occur in urban areas, where a total of 69% of fatalities were reported. And about 30% of all fatal bicycle accidents occurred between 4 p.m.and 7:59 p.m., when visibilty is at its worst due to the setting of the sun.

‘Unacceptable’ Number of Truck/Cyclists Accidents

The Bike Hotspot system was developed out of necessity because of the rising number of injury and fatal accidents involving trucks and bicyclists, according to David Paulson, the company’s managing director.

“It is unacceptable that there are such a high number of incidents involving cyclists and (trucks) every year and we are confident that the Bike Hotpot system will help to reduce these numbers and increase the confidence of drivers and cyclists, particularly in busy cities,” Paulson said.

High-Tech Devices Used to Improve Safety

While the technology used in the Bike Hotspot already existed, the product combined it all to provide a comprehensive safety system for truckers and bicyclists.

The side and front sensors are similar to the kind of backup sensors that currently come standard on many newer model automobiles. And the cameras are the same type Mini-Pro Cameras that are becoming popular among thrill seekers and adventure athletes.

The Bike Hotspot system can provide an even larger safety range with optional rear-mounted sensors and cameras. It also offers an optional mobile digital video recorder that can record up to eight channels of video in order to provide footage for reference in defense or claims situations, or for live viewing or surveillance.



The Australian firm ASCO Group has been hired by BP Amoco to manage a supply base serving four of its offshore oil wells located in the Great  Australian Bight.

The wells, which are located about 300 kilometers from the South Australia city of Ceduna, will begin receiving supplies from the company when they go online in 2016, according to Logistics Magazine.

ASCO’s supply base will be located in Finder’s Port, in Port Adelaide, and will have about 25 full-time employees, according to Matt Thomas, the company’s CEO.

“ASCO’s selection to manage the base and all associated logistics is further recognition for our global capability and reinforces our strategic direction in Australasia,” Thomas said. “We are now seen as a valuable and viable alternative to current service providers in the oil and gas, transport and logistics arena. We recognize the importance of BP’s activities to the South Australian economy and will support local employment and skills development across our operations. We are already in discussion with some of our partners who are looking at establishing South Australian operations to support our activities.”




truckProposed new work rules that would prevent trucking companies from using “coercion” to encourage truckers to drive more hours than legally allowable are being opposed by some shippers.

In a brief filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) said the agency’s proposed new rules — which were designed to prevent shippers from pressuring truckers into working longer than allowed hours — would be unenforceable and could cripple the trucking industry.

“Even if he rules were legally sound and well-designed (which they are not), FMCSA cannot credibly assert that its proposed rules can be implemented with no costs or other adverse impacts to shippers and intermediaries, or to the transportation system of which the trucking industry is the most important part,” NASSTRAC stated in its brief.

Out of Its Jurisdiction

The trade organization said it was opposed to companies trying to pressure drivers into violating safety rules by working longer than legally allowed, but it accused the federal agency of a “stunning overreach” of its legal authority in proposing the anti-coercion rules.

“In effect, FMCSA seeks to deputize virtually all American businesses … and individuals shipping personal property and household goods as unofficial compliance personnel regulated by this agency,” NASSTRAC stated in its brief.

The federal agency originally proposed the rules because it was afraid shippers would withhold contract with trucking companies unless they agreed to bend hours of service rules. The new anti-coercion rules would impose penalties of up to $11,000 per violation if shippers don’t “inquire about the driver’s time remaining” on legal hours of service.

The rules would be burdensome to shippers because it would require every driver to be questioned about their hours on every shipment, according to John M. Cutler Jr., the attorney representing NASSTRAC.

Proposed Rules ‘Impractical’

“Given how many shipments there are per day in this country, I’m not so sure that’s practical,” Cutler said. “If you order stuff from Amazon and UPS delivers it, there might be 100 shipments on that UPS truck. Is every recipient of every shipment supposed to run and ask the UPS driver, ‘Are your hours OK? Is your truck safe?’ To me, that just isn’t feasible.”

Concerns about drivers working long hours has been at the center of industry scrutiny for many years. Working longer than the maximum allowed hours can put the drivers — and the products they are delivering — at risk.

Electronic Logging Proposed

Last year, the American Trucking Associations called on the FMCSA to require that electronic logging devices be used to record drivers’ hours of service.

In the ATA’s comments, which were filed with the FMCSA last month, the group argued that the devices were necessary to protect the safety of the nation’s highway system.

“ATA supports laws and regulations mandating the installation and use of electronic logging devices for recording drivers’ hours of service,” the group announced in a news release. “To this end, ATA advocated for the MAP-21 provision mandating a rule-making to require ELDs. ATA is confident that such devices will improve compliance with the hours-of-service regulations and ultimately safety.”

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said the federal agency needed to act quickly to require devices be used everywhere.



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

  • Trucks and bicycles don’t mix. But now a company in the UK has developed new technology that can make ‘smart’ trucks that can see cyclists and avoid cyclists before an accident can occur.
  • The West Coast labor problems have been resolved, but the aftershocks could be felt in the supply chain for weeks or even months to come. We’ll take a closer look at how …
  • Forklift rodeos are becoming a popular way for employers to promote safety in a fun, competitive environment. But now there’s a reality TV show in which forklift drivers compete against each other head-to-head …

All this plus, why some trucking companies are lobbying against new driver safety rules, a new supplier for BP’s offshore oil wells in Australia, and modular acoustic panels that can reduce noise problems in welding operations. All this and much, much more can be found this week on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!


When the 30th annual ProMat materials handling trade show is held March 23 to 26 at Chicago’s McCormick Place South convention Center, it will feature more than 800 exhibitors and is expected to set all-time attendance records. The event is presented by the materials handling trade group MHI.

In addition to the exhibit hall, ProMat 2015 also will be packed with special events, including breakout sessions featuring some of the leading voices in business today, four keynote speakers, a preview of MHI’s annual industry report, and a special appearance by a well-known comedian and impressionist.

Supply Chain Workforce Summit

Daniel Stanton, vice president of education and professional development at MHI, the trade show’s sponsor and organizer, said addressing workforce issues now will allow industries to make the necessary adjustments for future changes.

“Between now and 2018, there will be 1.4 million new jobs in logistics and supply chain,” Stanton said in a news release. “Meanwhile,there is amazing turnover and change in the jobs and careers within the existing workforce. That requires people with many new skills and abilities just to keep pace with the increasing complexity of supply chains.”

The summit will feature dozens of supply chain professionals participating in nine separate panels held over two days forcusing on how to find, train and retain the right workforce.

Keynote Speakers

The highlight of many trade shows is often the keynote speakers. ProMat 2015 will feature four:

  •  Rene Noemi, director of Google’s Android and Chrome divisions, will speak March 23 on “Transforming Your Manufacturing Business for the New Digital Age”
  • John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, will speak March 24 on “Conscious Capitalism: Blueprint for a New System for Doing Business”
  • Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, will speak March 25 on “What’s Next: The Future of  Technology”
  • George W. Prest, CEO of MHI, and Scott Sopher, principal at Deloitte Consulting, on March 25 will give a preview of MHI’s 2015 Annual report, entitled “Transforming Supply Chains”

That Guy from ‘NFL Today’

Also on March 25, impressionist and comedian Frank Caliendo will entertain during a reception celebrating the 70th anniversary of MHI. Caliendo has been featured on FOX’s “Mad TV” and “NFL Today”. He is known for his impressions of former NFL coach and sports commentator John Madden, billionaire Donald Trump, former NBA star Charles Barkley and others.

This year’s ProMat trade show will focus future of the manufacturing and supply chain operations, Prest said in a special preview of the event.

“MHI has expanded the educational and networking offerings at ProMat 2015 to provide attendees with a better overall show experience and to connect them with the information and tools they need to tackle the challenges in today’s marketplace,” Prest said. “The goal is to bring the industry together to collaborate and develop into a community that shares knowledge and addresses current and future manufacturing and supply chain issues.”

Two Shows for One

Attendees also will be invited to visit a second trade show going on at the same time and place as ProMat. Automate 2015, which is sponsored by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) will showcase a full spectrum of automation technologies and solutions. It will be presented in the  Grand Concourse hall in McCormick Place North, which is connected to the larger McCormick Place South exhibition space via a sky bridge over Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive.



Air Products — a leading industrial gases company based in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania — announced recently that it has partnered with Japan’s Suzuki Shokan Co. to work together on the design, construction and operation of hydrogen fueling stations for Japanese forklifts.

The purpose of the pact is to find ways to provide cleaner, more cost-equipment power systems for forklifts used in Japan, said Ed Kiczek, Air Products’ global business director.

“We have a great deal of experience supporting the material handling market with hydrogen fueling technology and related infrastructure,” Kiczek said. “This alliance with Suzuki Shokan is a tremendous opportunity to work with a recognized leader in the Japanese industrial gas market to serve the material handling industry in that region of the world.

“Japan’s keen interest in hydrogen fueling for the automotive market provides a natural extension to hydrogen fueling for material handling,” Kiczek added. “Working with Suzuki Shokan, we can meet the needs of this market.”

Yoji Koguchi, managing director in charge of Toyota Factory, said the alliance between the two companies was the first step toward a “hydrogen society”.

“Suzuki Shokan possesses hydorgen technology and know-how through a long history of supplying the hydrogen business,” Koguchi said, adding that many Japanese companies are seeking to phase out internal combustion and battery-powered forklifts.


Editor’s Note: In today’s Thursday Feature, we travel to upstate New York, where a pair of enterprising sisters have turned what some would see as a symbol of a declining industry and spun it into gold … or at least golden waffles and delicious fluffy pancakes.

Dorothy Horn, left, and Karen Fournelle, owners of the Forklift Cafe in Greece, New York (Image via YouTube)

The town of Greece, located in upstate New York just outside Rochester, was once home to the Eastman Kodak International Distribution Center. For decades, vast fleets of forklifts shuttled materials in and out of the facility, which at 2 million square feet, was the largest warehouse in North America when it was built in 1968.

But as digital cameras made film obsolete, Kodak had little use for the enormous warehouse. And when the company filed for bankruptcy in January 2012, the once mighty space was left vacant. Since then, Acquest Development — a leasing company out of nearby Buffalo — has been struggling to fill the facility’s vast empty halls with new clients.

A lot of people would look at this site and see a failure. But two sisters who were raised nearby in a family of 11 children and who are proud of their community’s legacy saw it as an opportunity.

And the Forklift Cafe was born.

Finding the Ideal Space

Dorothy Horn and her sister Karen Fournelle first considered opening a restaurant inside the mammoth distribution center itself.

“We looked at the cafeteria inside the warehouse, but it didn’t work for us,” Fournelle told the local newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle.

The empty cafeteria was simply too big and unworkable. But when the sisters walked outside the facility, they found another space that was perfect for what they had in mind: The former guard shack that stood abandoned at the gates to the Kodak warehouse.

“Then we saw the guard shack. We said, ‘Wow! Look at that!’ “ Karen said. “They were so open to it. There are 30 or so businesses in the warehouse now and there’s nowhere (else) for them to go out and eat around here. It was a complete win-win.”

In August, 2012, the pair opened the Forklift Cafe. While the restaurant’s space is compact, these sisters are making the most with what they have to work with.

“It’s a very tiny building,” Karen said. “But it’s big enough. We seat about 20.”

A Lifetime of Cooking

Dorothy and Karen first learned how to cook while growing up out of necessity. In the Specksgoor household, there were always plenty of mouths to feed. So preparing daily meals was the equivalent of feeding a small army.

Dorothy’s interest in cooking for her brothers and sisters led to a career as a chef and caterer with some of Rochester’s leading restaurants.

Meanwhile, Karen was the entrepreneur of the family. She spent many years in the tech industry, including 13 years at the Xerox Corporation. She also owned her own tech business for a time.

But when her sister pitched the idea of opening their own restaurant, they knew it was a winning combination that was meant to be.

“We have a saying,” Karen said. “Karen is the one with the sharp wit and Dorothy is the one with the sharp knife. She wins every time!”

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

As the enormous warehouse slowly begins to fill up with tenants, the sisters are enjoying a growing base of regular customers and truckers just passing through.

The Forklift Cafe serves breakfast standards like bacon and eggs and pancakes. But it also features wraps and even a Friday fish fry.

The Forklift Cafe’s signature dish is the “18 Wheeler Plate”, which the sisters’ version of a longtime local Rochester specialty. It features a mixture of hamburger, hot dogs or Italian slathered in macaroni salad or french fries, then smothered in onions and hot sauce. A breakfast version of the favorite includes three eggs and your choice of breakfast meats.

Cheeseburgers are sold all the time, even at 6 in the morning for the truckers who make the Forklift Cafe a frequent stop. Other customer favorites include lasagna, shepherd’s pie and plenty more cafe originals.

The Forklift Cafe features open kitchen that allows customers to watch as Karen whips up their favorite meals from scratch. The sisters also cater group lunches to go for area businesses.

Owners Recognized for their Ingenuity

The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. But after hours, customers can purchase pre-made sandwiches, soups and salads from a vending machine in a glassed-in area adjacent to the restaurant that also has a microwave oven.

Last year, the local chamber of commerce presented the sisters with a special award for best creative use of an existing building.

But they say they aren’t in it for the accolades. Or even to get rich, really.

“It’s great fun,” Karen said. “I roll out of bed at 3:15 or 3:30 in the morning, but I’m smiling.”



Editor’s Note: The following is the latest in a series of periodic articles examining business trends and their effect on industries in the future. 

File:Mojo 3D Printer.png

3D Printer (Photo courtesy of Intel Free Press via Wikimedia Commons)

By now, most everybody has seen something about three-dimensional printers — a news article, a YouTube video, perhaps even a live demonstration at a trade expo.

3D printers work much the same way as traditional printers.  But instead of spraying a single layer of toner on a sheet of paper, they lay down multiple layers of substances such as plastic resin until the layers add up to an object. Depending on how they are programmed, 3D printers can product objects of any shape, on the spot whenever they are needed.

In the coming decade or so, this is going to have widespread implications for industry. And as the technology improves and as 3D printers become more widespread and more affordable, it may revolutionize the way products make their way to consumers.

The Post-Industrial Revolution

In the original Industrial Revolution born at the end of the 19th Century, improvements in energy production and manufacturing organization led to the mass production of consumer goods in assembly lines. This changed the entire landscape of modern societies, as workers migrated from rural areas to cities to work in  factories.

The development of the 3D printer could have similar society-changing consequences. Once they are economically viable and widely use, they will allow goods to be manufactured closer to where they will be purchased or consumed — often right inside the home itself!

Homes that are equipped with 3D printers, raw materials and design software will be able to build everything from clothing to consumer electronics, from cookware to furniture. And the places that are now used to manufacture these products eventually will become obsolete.

Smaller, Localized Factories

Even those goods that can’t be built practically in the home can be produced more locally because there will no longer be as many economies of scale to support large, centralized manufacturing plants. For example, today cars are built in only a handful of cities. But large 3D printers can allow vehicles to be built in every city and town. And replacement parts can be built right at dealerships or repair shops.

Another change will be that it will be much easier to customize products because changing design won’t require retooling an entire assembly line. All it will take will be reprogramming the software. The Industrial Revolution was built around creating the same identical product over and over again, but in the post-industrial revolution, consumer goods will only be limited by their maker’s imagination.

Think of the long-term consequences this could have on supply, manufacturing and retailing. The way most consumers access the products and services they want already has been radically altered by the rise of the Internet. The proliferation of 3D printing will only accelerate the desintigration of the traditional supply chain.

Reshoring Manufacturing

The likely will be international consequences as well. For example, many of the products that are produced in China with cheap labor will no longer be cost-effective because 3D printing will allow these to be built more cheaply and closer to the point of consumption.

While not all products lend themselves to 3D printing — we will still have to grow and raise food, for example — many of the hard consumables that make up much of the economy can and will be built and delivered differently.

And it’s not some science fiction scenario of the future, either. The auto, aerospace and medical technology industries already are using 3D printers to make light and strong components.

The next decade will be an exciting time for industry as the impact of 3D printing technology changes the way many products are manufactured and delivered to consumers.



Simply upgrading fans inside a grinding mill at a UK cement factory was enough to save the company more than $269,000 per year.

The Purfleet Works of Hanson Cement is located on the River Thames in Essex, England, and has the capacity to produce about a million tons per year of Regen, a special type of cement that is made of ground-up blast furnace slag.

The slag is ground within two closed circuit ball mills equipped with vertical grinding mills. In one of the mills, Hanson Cement replaced a fixed-speed fan with a more energy efficient fan produced by the German equipment manufacturer Siemens. Not only does the new fan require substantially less power, but it also has reduced the plant’s CO2 emissions by 1,600 tons per year, according to Dave Jackson, the plant’s electrical engineer.

“We were looking to make energy savings around the plant and a survey had recommended a new drive and motor for this mill,” Jackson said. “The Siemens solution means we are now running with the damper open 100 percent of the time, yet actual energy consumption has dropped by around 360 to 400 kilowatts.”

The fixed speed fan was replaced with a Siemens 1,000 kW Sinamics Perfect Harmony 11,000/4,160 V medium voltage converter, installed and commissioned to link with existing Siemens process control systems at the plant.

The concrete replacement made at the plant is ready-mixed and pre-cast concrete.



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

  • After more than nine months of negotiations, West Coast dock workers and owners have FINALLY reached a new five-year contract agreement. We’ll give you the details and take a look at what comes next …
  • You may have heard about 3D printers, but have you ever considered how these high tech devices are going to change the way we live in the future? The answers may surprise you …
  • Get ready, it’s time for the country’s biggest materials handling trade show once again. We’ll give you a special preview of ProMAT 2015 and tell you why organizers promise it will be the biggest show ever …

Plus, energy efficient fans, how a Pennsylvania company wants to change the way Japanese forklifts run, two sisters who are trying to improve their economically depressed hometown one pancake at a time. All this and much, much more can be found this week on the Bahrns blog … so stay tuned!