Combilift sets the benchmark for mass customization with its new production plantWednesday, June 20, 2018
Combilift has set the benchmark for mass production of customized innovative products according to Martin McVicar, managing director. Mr. McVicar was speaking at the official opening of the new Combilift global headquarters.
Built at a cost of €50 million the new 500,000 sq.ft (46,500 sq. m) global headquarters and new manufacturing facility will allow Combilift to double production.
Established in 1998, Combilift currently exports 98% of its products to 85 countries through its 250-strong international dealer network. Combilift is celebrating its 20th year anniversary of lifting innovation.
McVicar attributes the company’s impressive growth to mass customization. “Mass customization is the new frontier for both the customer and the manufacturer. Increasingly customers are expecting products to be tailored to meet their needs. Forklift producers that offer customized products generally produce low volume, but Combilift is setting the benchmark by offering the mass production of tailored products, resulting in a strategic advantage for our customers. Traditional forklift manufacturers focus on high volume mass production of the same products. We evolve with our clients, producing new products each year.”
Since 1998 Combilift has been manufacturing customized products tailored to suit client requirements. “The flexibility in our new facility means that Combilift can continue to accommodate any customer request for a customized material handling solution,” says McVicar “Customer requirements are our standard. The new factory enables us to double production and remain focused on the needs of our customers and dealers. We have become much more than a forklift manufacturer and are transforming the transport and logistics sector with our innovative, space-spacing products.”
Combilift offers a free logistic and warehouse design service. Combi-Connect allows the customer to see the benefit a Combilift product will bring to their business. “Our engineers proactively design, plan and produce solutions in collaboration with our customers by offering material flow analysis and 3D animations. We work with customers to produce warehouse designs to visualise the capacity potential as well as the optimum flow of materials on their site.” says McVicar.
The Combilift approach is one of listening to its global network of customers. “We work closely with our customers and dealers to identify solutions that best match their individual specific needs. Combilift invests 7% of its annual turnover (revenue) in Research and Development (R & D) to enhance its customization capability. We are intensifying the collaboration with our customers in the warehouse and material handling sectors. The intention is to maximize return on revenue (ROI).”
Growth of Combilift
Established by Martin McVicar and Robert Moffett, technical director, in 1998, Combilift is a privately held and fully capitalized company. It developed the world’s first multidirectional all-wheel drive IC engine powered forklift in 1998. In its first year of operation, Combilift produced 18 units, 17 of which were exported. The company has more than doubled in the last five years and now has 40,000 units in operation in over 85 countries.
Combilift’s product portfolio has expanded way beyond its first multidirectional Combilift, with innovative product development and customization being a cornerstone of the company’s ethos according to McVicar. “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. In the first 10 years Combilift concentrated on the long load material handling sector. The Combilift multi-directional forklift revolutionized the handling of long materials as it allowed customers to handle long products in less space more safely. Between 2008 and 2018 Combilift diversified its product ranged by developing a number of innovative space saving warehouse and heavy load handling products; the Aisle Master articulated truck and the Straddle Carrier (Combi-SC) respectively. Combilift entered the pedestrian forklift market with the introduction a number of unique products (Combi-WR and Combi-CS) in the last five years, which benefit from its patented multi-positional operator tiller arm technology.
Combilift sees a growing demand for pedestrian trucks, driven by safety concerns where customers and/or employees are in the vicinity of operating forklifts according to McVicar. “It is Combilift’s intention to significantly expand its pedestrian forklift range as can be seen with the launch of the high lift capacity Combilift Powered Pallet Truck (Combi-PPT).”
Increase in jobs
Combilift is also investing in its workforce, adding a considerable number of high-level employment opportunities, for skilled technicians, design engineers, logistics and supply chain specialists and those with mechanical and electrical mechatronics skills.
“The investment in people will enable Combilift to meet its ambitious growth plans,” says McVicar. We have employed an additional 230 people since we announced our plans for this factory in 2015. The combination of this state of the art production plant and a skilled workforce will allow us to double production within the next five years.”
The new 500,000 sq.ft (46,500 sq. m) purpose–built factory is set on a 100-acre site with room for expansion. With 11 acres of roof space, it is one of the largest manufacturing operations under one single roof in the Republic of Ireland.
Incorporating the latest manufacturing processes with a focus on sustainability, the new factory will enable Combilift to double its output in a single shift across all production lines. Four 90 meter moving assembly lines produce a finished truck every 15 minutes.
30% of its roof space is covered in skylights enabling staff to work in natural daylight without the assistance of artificial lighting. Lighting is provided through 1100 LED light with individual PIR sensors. Solar panels supply 185 kW of energy with a 1 MW Biomass plant fueled by recycled wood (pallets etc.) to heat the spraying boots and assembly area. 110,000 liters of rain water is harvested for use throughout the facility.
More than 50 truckloads of finished products are dispatched to 85 countries each week. Spare parts are also shipped across the world from Monaghan to the dealer network.
Certified to international quality and safety management standards, the new headquarters and manufacturing facility has been awarded ISO 9001 international quality management system, ISO 14001 Environment Management and OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series.