Moving product can be a difficult feat. Large, long or awkward loads can present further challenges for companies. For many reasons, the safety and efficiency of transporting products should be of major concern for companies in a variety of industries. I had the pleasure of learning about a company offering innovative, customizable forklift and lifting products unlike any others.
Combilift, a specialized forklift company based out of Monaghan, Ireland, recently celebrated 20 years of providing revolutionary product transportation equipment with the grand opening of its brand new, 50 million euro global headquarters and production facility. The 500,000-square-foot facility sits on an over 100-acre site, providing the vast opportunity to grow in the future.
Destined to Innovate
Combilift was started in 1998 by Martin McVicar, Managing Director, and Robert Moffett, Technical Director. The name Moffett may be familiar, as the name is synonymous with the well-known and highly utilized “Moffett Mounty” truck-mounted forklifts designed by the Moffett family company. McVicar, a young prodigy, became the Moffett Engineering Chief Engineer even before turning 20 years old. After the sale of Moffett Engineering, McVicar and Moffett, two brilliant and accomplished engineers, joined forces to create the world’s first internal combustion engine-powered, all-wheel drive, multidirectional forklift — the Combilift C4000.
Within the first year of operation, the Irish company produced 18 units, 17 of which were shipped to other countries. In the years that followed, Combilift grew in popularity around the world. In fact, 98 percent of the products produced by Combilift are exported to other nations. In the last five years, the company has more than doubled and now has over 40,000 unit in operation in over 85 countries, including the U.S.
“As a company, Combilift has always focused on a number of niche market segments and has a proven track record of launching one to two new products annually,” says McVicar. “In the first 10 years, Combilift revolutionized the handling of long materials, as it allowed customers to handle long products in less space more safely.” The company has come a far way in its 20 years. Now offering a variety of forklift products and equipment for various lifting needs, the utilities of the products are vast. Impressively, the company’s key focuses are on providing products that improve safety, promote efficiency and maximize space.
Products for Unique Uses
Forklifts are used for a variety of purposes. Some companies may use forklifts to move product indoors, such as palettes in warehouses, or outdoors, including timber or steel around work yards. Forklifts can also be used to transport or lift people — to pick a product from a high warehouse shelf, for instance. I’ve mentioned only a few uses; the utility of these products is actually quite diverse.
Most forklift companies, design products with a general use in mind. One of Combilift’s most unique and useful attributes is its ability and propensity to customize as needed to meet the needs of their customers.
Customization allows Combilift to produce products that have specialized uses, designed to accommodate the customer’s specific needs. McVicar explains, “Combilift has set the benchmark for the mass production of customized, innovative products. Mass customization is the new frontier for both the customer and the manufacturer, as customers are increasingly expecting products to be tailored to their requirements. We listen to and take feedback on board from our customers and dealers to identify solutions that best match their individual specific needs.
“There are over 200 manufacturers of forklift trucks worldwide. And for Combilift, when myself and Robert established the business 20 years ago, we knew we could never make a business trade in Ireland to compete with the big brand names. Our intention is not to get into the high-volume production of forklift trucks. Our business is very much geared on developing innovative forklift trucks that are focused on a niche market. And with focus on the niche market, we want to become the number one player in whatever market segment we enter.”
If a company comes to Combilift with a specific problem in mind, the engineering team will take a look at its products to see if one can be modified to meet the customer’s needs. However, at times the company will have an opportunity to use the customer’s problem to design an entirely new product with usefulness for other/future customers. In fact, many of the new products offered by Combilift are a direct result of a design tailored to fix one customer’s problem.
“Traditional forklift manufacturers focus on high volume, mass production of the same products,” McVicar shares.
“We evolve with our clients, producing new products each year.”
Having the agility to customize and modify products to meet the needs of their niche customers is one of the company’s greatest assets.
To read the rest of this article, please visit https://shalemag.com/combilift-innovation-in-the-forklift-industry/