When Combilift was established in 1998 it had a handful of employees working from a small manufacturing facility in a village near Monaghan Town. Since the company designed and launched the C4000 – the world’s first engine powered, all-wheel drive multidirectional forklift, it has been globally acknowledged as an unparalleled success story in the materials handling sector. It now exports to more than 85 countries and employs a workforce of over 700 people at its 46,500 m² HQ and factory – just a few miles from its original site. The first half of Combilift’s anniversary year has been quite eventful, with new products being launched at major trade fairs and the roll-out of truck number 75,000 from the production lines.
The timber, panel and joinery sectors were the first industries to recognise and appreciate the groundbreaking qualities of the multidirectional C4000 as well as the many other innovative models that have followed over the past quarter century, and they continue to be very important markets. Combilift is still headed up by the two founders, MD Martin McVicar and Technical Director Robert Moffett, whose combined engineering expertise and a strategy of substantial investment in R&D (7% of annual revenue) has enabled the company to always keep one step ahead of other manufacturers when it comes to introducing new models and concepts onto the market.
To mark this milestone, Combilift is launching no fewer than five new models throughout the year, the first of which was unveiled at the LogiMAT logistics trade fair in Stuttgart in April. The Combi-CUBE is an electric model which incorporates a host of technological and design features that enhance handling procedures and offer a high level of driver comfort. The driver’s position in the centre of the cab offers generous room and excellent all-round visibility. The angle of the telescopic steering column can be adjusted and the Grammer MSG65 seat, combined with hydraulic cabin mounts, guarantees a comfortable ride. An adjustable arm rest is mounted to the seat suspension which incorporates a multi-function joystick and an LCD colour touch screen. The optional unique Dynamic 360 Steering enables seamless directional change, making this model the most manoeuvrable counterbalance forklift on the market.
At the Ligna trade fair in Hanover just a few weeks later, it was the turn of the Combi-CB70E to take centre stage. This has been designed for sectors such as the timber industry in mind: it boasts the distinction of being the shortest 7t capacity counterbalance truck on the market whilst also benefitting from multidirectional ability, enabling the versatile space saving handling of both long and bulky loads such as packs of timber, even in very confined spaces. It also features the optional newly developed Auto Swivel Seat, which automatically engages and swivels the seat and armrest 15° to the right or left to accord with the direction of travel selected by the operator – reducing driver strain, particularly when travelling in reverse.
When the 75,000th Combilift – an Aisle Master articulated forklift – rolled off the production lines earlier in the year, Combilift’s management had already taken the decision to donate this truck to a charity. Convoy of Hope, a US based non-profit humanitarian and disaster relief organization which works with communities volunteers around the globe, was already using a number of Aisle Masters at its World Distribution Center in Springfield, Missouri, and these trucks have enabled quicker movement of loads, the best possible storage density and very efficient operation. Erik Meier, Senior Vice President – Supply Chain said: “We are so grateful to Combilift for donating this valuable piece of equipment – this is going to help people for years and ensure that every day someone in the world receives aid, and that brings hope.”
Martin McVicar, Combilift’s CEO points to yet more new products for the second half of the year. These will be further additions to the company’s ever growing range of electric models which offer powerful performance, extensive battery life and unrivalled ergonomics which at the same time help companies to achieve their aims for more sustainable operations. “We are looking forward to more events and opportunities to mark this milestone with our customers, dealers, sales personnel, representatives from the international press and of course our workforce. Their loyalty and support has been pivotal in enabling us to achieve the amazing level of growth and success that we have experienced during the last 25 years. We’re not going to rest on our laurels though – you can expect more innovation from us in the next few decades to come!”