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See And Behold

Material Handling In Pop Culture

The material handling industry is turning up all over the place…on television, in movies, magazines, Web ads and print ads, from The Wall Street Journal to Playboy, and everything in between. What’s causing it? While TiVo’s send commercials to oblivion and product placement grows by leaps and bounds, perhaps it’s really a recognition that material handling solutions have an impact on a company’s bottom line. Finally.

Below is a short list of material handling solutions spotted in some unexpected places over the last few months.

Conveyors
Laverne and Shirley, stars of the slapstick 1950s-era Laverne & Shirley, worked on an assembly line at Milwaukee’s Shotz Brewery, the local beer bottling plant. They were known for goofing up on the conveyor belt.

The 1992 comedy Wayne’s World, starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, features a parody of Laverne & Shirley‘s opening scene, where Laverne and Shirley wave to a glove on a beer bottle that rolls by on a conveyor belt.

A Ford F-150 truck television commercial shows two trucks on a big conveyor side by side, hitting speed bumps over and over to demonstrate the shocks.

A popular episode of I Love Lucy is “Job Switching,” which aired September 15, 1952. Lucy Ricardo and her neighbor Ethel Mertz challenged husbands Ricky and Fred to a domestic role reversal. The men took on the job of homemakers, while the women worked at a candy factory. It seemed simple as the shop supervisor explained the process of making and packaging candy, but things went very wrong when the conveyor belt didn’t work in their favor.

A television commercial for Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats shows boxes of the cereal moving on a conveyor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the lead in the 1991 film Terminator 2. In one scene, as the villain is about to kill Linda Hamilton’s character, a battered-looking Terminator uses a conveyor belt to hoist himself up to where the villain is on a platform.

See and Behold: Material Handling in Pop Culture

At Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, patrons can get doughnuts fresh off the conveyor belt. Rosie O’Donnell even had a Krispy Kreme doughnut conveyor belt on the set of her former talk show for a week.

The August 20, 2004, issue of USA Today, on the front page of the Money Section, featured a photograph of Italian ice maker PhillySwirl’s frozen treats moving along a conveyor belt, ready to be wrapped.

A DHL commercial promoting the Olympics features two cyclists, side by side, who appear to be in a heated race. As the camera zooms out, it shows their bikes aren’t actually moving; the cyclists are practicing on a gravity conveyor attached to a DHL truck. The driver throws them a couple bottles of water from the back of the truck.

Forklifts
The 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, is about the Bandit, who is hired to run a tractor trailer full of beer over state lines, being chased by the sheriff. At one point, Smokey steals beer from a beer warehouse and loads the pallets onto the tractor trailer using a forklift.

A DHL television commercial that aired during the 2004 Summer Olympics shows a weightlifter struggling with the bar. After reaching it above his head, he lets go and the bar is still in the air, held up by a forklift.

In 2003’s National Security with Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn, a Komatsu forklift can be spotted during a warehouse chase scene.

Evan Marriott, star of the 2003 FOX reality TV show Joe Millionaire, conned 20 women into believing he was a multi-millionaire, before ultimately choosing one as a soulmate. He then revealed to her that he was a construction worker who drove forklifts for a living—and was not really a millionaire.

Imagine the surprise on people’s faces in the city of Philadelphia when Rodin’s statue “The Thinker” moved to its new home three blocks away. No moving van for this guy. He went down the middle of the street sitting on the forks of a lift truck.

On MTV’s Newlyweds, a reality show about recently married pop stars Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, the couple had arcade games delivered to their house. They didn’t fit through the door, so Lachey lifted them up over the balcony using a forklift.

Hyster lift trucks have made appearances in the following movies: The Thomas Crown Affair, Tommy Boy, Stepmom, Godzilla and Fire Down Below.

Yale represented the lift truck industry in The History Channel’s 2003 Loading Docks program for the Modern Marvels series.

Storage and Handling
Multi-Media Productions (USA), Inc., the producers of Alexander Haig’s World Business Review, produced a special series focusing on Material Handling Solutions for CNBC and Tech TV. A segment about space-saving innovations, such as vertical carousels, highlighted J&D Associates.

An episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under that aired July 25 is about a character who had a dream about shopping in a Los Angeles store, where there were floor-to-ceiling racks holding sheets and blankets. She pulled some off to look at and the shelves began to shake from an earthquake. About 12 blankets fell from the top shelf, landing on her head. The very astute material handling observer would wonder why the top shelves didn’t have netting guard to prevent the blankets from falling on her.

Boltless shelving appears in the scenes of the CBS program Cold Case. It also appears in a Toys “R” Us commercial and in scenes from CSI.

In an episode of That ’70s Show, main character Eric Forman gets a job at a dog food factory. He is in the factory with many racks and a pallet truck in the background while bags of dog food go by on a conveyor belt.

Loading Docks
All in the Family‘s Archie Bunker made his living as a loading dock worker. The show, which debuted in 1971, is one of the most influential comedies in the history of television because of its honest, realistic style.

A scene from 1976’s Rocky takes place on a loading dock. Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, confronts a loading dock worker who owes money to a loan shark. Rocky, the enforcer/debt collector, storms along the dock, passing by forklifts, pallets and drums, and catches the man, who tries to escape on a forklift.

In The Da Vinci Code, the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, lead character Robert Langdon and French cryptologist Sophie Neveu are led to The Depository Bank of Zurich in Paris following a series of clues. They enter a private room and insert a key and code to view the contents in storage, which arrive via a wide conveyor belt. When they have what they are looking for, they head to the rear loading dock to escape from the police.

Marlon Brando won his first Oscar in the 1954 movie On the Waterfront, about a young longshoreman who tries to resist the corrupt union that operates the Hudson River loading docks.

—- and then there are those very unique and proud moments every distributor can recount. In 1964, Michelangelo’s sculpture, “Pieta,” left the Vatican in Rome for the first time in its over 400-year history. It was transported to the World’s Fair in New York City on a specially designed product called Rol-O-Lift, created by material handling company Skarnes, Inc., a MHEDA member headquartered in Minneapolis.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

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