Combilift, a material handling solutions provider, has set the benchmark for mass production of customized products according to Martin McVicar, managing director.
Mr. McVicar was speaking at the official opening of the Combilift Global Headquarters. Built at a cost of €50 million, the 500,000-square-foot global headquarters and manufacturing facility will allow Combilift to double production.
Established in 1998, Combilift exports 98 percent of its products to 85 countries through its international network of 250 dealers. Combilift is celebrating its 20th year anniversary of lifting innovation.
Martin McVicar, managing director, Combilift, attributes growth of the company to mass customization. “Mass customization is a new frontier for both the customer and the manufacturer. Customers are expecting products to be tailored to meet their needs. Forklift producers that offer customized products generally produce low volume, but Combilift is offering the mass production of tailored products, resulting in an 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 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 factory enables us to double production and remain focused on the needs of our customers and dealers. We have become more than a forklift manufacturer and are transforming the transport and logistics sector with our products.”
Combilift offers a logistic and warehouse design service. Combi-Connect allows the customer to see the benefit a Combilift product will bring to their business. “Our engineers 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 visualize the capacity potential as well as the optimum flow of materials on the site.” says McVicar.
The Combilift approach is one of listening to its network of customers. “We work with our customers and dealers to identify solutions that match their individual needs. Combilift invests 7 percent 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, managing director, and Robert in Moffett, technical director, in 1998, Combilift is a privately held and fully capitalized company. It developed the multi-directional 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 5 years and now has 40,000 units in operation in over 85 countries.
Combilift’s product portfolio has expanded beyond its first multi-directional Combilift, with product development and customization being a cornerstone of its ethos according to McVicar. “As a company, Combilift has focused on a number of niche market segments and has a 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 transformed the handling of long materials as it allowed customers to handle long products in less space. Between 2008 and 2018 Combilift diversified its product ranged by developing a number of 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 of a number of 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 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 the intention of Combilift to 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 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 growth plans,” says Martin McVicar. We have employed an additional 230 people since we announced our plans for this factory in 2015. The combination of this production plant and a skilled workforce will allow us to double production within the next five years.”
The purpose–built factory is set on a 100-acre site with room for expansion.
Incorporating manufacturing processes with a focus on sustainability, the 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.
Thirty percent of its 11 acre 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 lights with individual PIR sensors. Solar panels supply 185 kW of energy with a 1 MW Biomass plant fueled by recycled wood to heat the spraying boots and assembly area. Rain water (110,000 liters) 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 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.