Combilift, the Irish manufacturer of transport equipment for space saving and optimisation celebrates its 25th anniversary. With three appealing novelties, the company is adding lustre to the anniversary year, bringing the number of new products to five by 2023. Success is also visible in rising production numbers. How do they do it anyway?
Combilift is the number one manufacturer of multidirectional lift trucks, articulated mast trucks and in the straddle carrier market. “We are not satisfied if we are number two or number three in the market segments we operate in. We want to be number one,” states CEO Martin McVicar during our visit to the factory. “Indeed, if we don’t believe we can be the best, we shouldn’t even enter that segment.”
Innovation and R&D are deeply rooted in Combilift’s DNA. They invest seven per cent of turnover in research and development. Partly because of this, the portfolio has expanded significantly over the past 25 years. In the last year even with five new products, all focused on handling optimisation and space saving.The five novelties all focus on optimisation and space saving.
Earlier this year, the Combi-Cube with its unique 360-degree dynamic steering system entered the market. This allows the truck to drive smoothly in any direction like a hovercraft. Operation is particularly intuitive and predictable.
The second novelty is also a multidirectional truck: the CB70E. This electric 7-tonne truck is the most compact in its class and a fully-fledged, easy-to-operate four-way truck. Smart innovations facilitate maintenance and battery changes. On request, the truck is also available with lithium-ion batteries.
With the third novelty, Combilift enters the world of autonomous trucks. The Combi-AGT is a 5-tonne electric side loader that can be operated either manually or fully automatically.
For autonomous operation, the Combi-AGT uses scanning of all fixed objects in the warehouse such as walls, columns and racking. Thanks to this ‘natural’ orientation, there is no need to install reflectors or adjust the space.
By scanning the load, the truck checks whether it matches its assignment. While driving, the truck automatically takes into account the length of the load and adjusts its cornering behaviour accordingly.
The fourth innovation also marks Combilift’s strength to meet material handling demands from the market. The Combi-LC Blade is intended for the offshore wind energy sector and comes from collaboration with Siemens Gamesa. The impressive machine incorporates all the know-how that makes Combilift unique: strength, multidirectional driving and simplicity of operation.
The Combi-LC helps handle rotor blades that are getting longer and heavier and for which no suitable internal transport solution existed. The Combi-LC has no trouble with current lengths of 115 metres and a weight of 70 tonnes. The system is designed for further growth.
The concept is based on two flexible and remote-controlled units, operating in a master-slave mode.
The fifth and final novelty of 2023 is Combi-Connect, a telematics software product that offers customers greater insight into fleet management and utilisation by providing real-time data on machine performance. Nothing shocking in itself, but still because Combilift goes that little bit further than others:
With five novelties in the anniversary year, a clear vision of the markets they operate in, Combilift looks to the future with equally clear growth plans. With 80,000 trucks produced in total and 10,000 units in the last year, they are aiming to double every five years. By 2028, Combilift expects to build 20,000 units at its Irish plant and possible assembly sites elsewhere in the world.