Space-saving equipment helps lift productivity

Combilift managing director Martin McVicar said the right forklift can help companies save space in their factories.

Just as time is of the essence, space is also of the essence in any business looking to increase its reach. Take any large city – crammed with cars manoeuvring past one another, packed with people making an L-shape to get to the next store in a crowd of oncoming foot traffic, and a city laden with companies fighting for an affordable and convenient space to grow their business.

The latter is an issue many manufacturers know all too well. While growing a business is key, keeping costs down is also paramount.

Combilift, a customised handling solutions company established in Ireland, makes manoeuvrability on the factory floor easier, so less space is taken up by bulky machinery. The company’s forklifts are multi-directional and handle anything from long loads, live poultry, and awkward loads up to 100 tonnes.

Storage capacity can be restricted when production supply increases, but Combilift managing director Martin McVicar said using forklifts that can work in constricted spaces helps. “Where a manufacturing company makes its money is on its production supply. The forklifts save space and allow the handling of products more safely.”

Combilift helps companies expand their business without the hassle of having to find a larger space, which can be more expensive to run and increases costs during relocation, said McVicar.

“We can let them grow without acquiring another building. We can help some grow by up to 50 per cent. If we are not giving our clients a return on investment, we are not selling them the right equipment.”

The C-Series Combilift product range, for example, has lift heights of up to nine metres and lift capacities up to 25,000kg. The range can work in guided aisles as narrow as 2100mm. The C-series has the ability to quickly change the direction of its wheels and move in any direction. This four-way movement gives the forklift the versatility to transport long loads through narrow doorways and around objects.

Fit for the Australian market Combilift has been in Australia for 17 years and the company exports to 85 countries. “Australia might not be close to Ireland but Australia was one of our early export markets. It’s our fifth largest export market,” he said.   

McVicar meets customers’ needs by listening to what equipment they would like to see that isn’t on the market. One example of this was the need for a straddle carrier that could hold up to 25 tonnes.

“We thought it was possible to make this happen. We developed the Combilift Straddle Carrier. It weighs about 20 tonnes, but it’s designed to lift 30 tonnes.” Launched in 2010, the Combilift Straddle Carrier range was developed as a more cost effective and flexible solution for distribution, shipping and haulage companies even with relatively low throughput levels. It offers complete independence when moving large, fully laden containers and other oversized loads around sites.

Similarly, Combilift’s largest Australian customer, Bunnings, wanted a forklift that was safe to use around pedestrians, so Combilift created a machine that is now used in most Bunnings stores in Australia, said McVicar.

“It very much came from a request from Bunnings in Australia, but the product is now available worldwide. In a Bunnings store it’s a mixed environment. Customers are walking and shopping while forklifts are working. That encouraged us to develop the Combilift Walkie Reach.” It is a pedestrian reach stacker, which can work in an aisle width of 2m pallet-to-pallet.

It has a lift capacity of 1450kg and a multi-directional, four-way option is also available. The patented multi-position tiller enables push button rotation of the rear wheel parallel to the chassis and back, allowing the operator to remain in the safest possible position when placing and picking in narrow aisles, namely at the side of the unit rather than between the truck and the racking. This improves forward visibility and reduces the risk of incidents in tight confines.

Recognised for expertise
With its space saving and manoeuvrability innovations, one of Combilift’s forklifts has been nominated as a finalist in the International Intralogistics and Forklift Truck of the Year (IFOY) awards 2019. From an international pool of applicants, just 15 products have been selected for an IFOY award, which honours the best products and solutions of the year.

The Combi-PPT powered pallet truck with 8,000kg capacity is one of three products shortlisted by the jury in the Warehouse Truck category.

The Combi-PPT is a high performance pedestrian-operated, powered pallet truck with a range of capacities up to 16,000kg, which enables the safe and secure transportation of heavy loads without the need for a ride-on forklift.

The features of the truck include Combilift’s unique, patented multi-position tiller arm. The design ensures optimum visibility of the load and surroundings for the operator and guarantee maximum safety in areas where other personnel may be present, in busy production plants for example. Its manoeuvrability enables efficient and productive operation in confined spaces.

Each finalist’s equipment will undergo an audit and innovation check in Hanover, Germany. Judges will test for qualities such as technology, design, ergonomics, safety, marketability, customer benefit and sustainability.

Winners will be announced at an IFOY awards night on April 26 in Vienna, Austria.