Rotating mast trucks are expensive - usually about a third more than the list price of a reach truck.
But at IMHX, Translift Engineering Ltd showed off its new Bendi, which costs the same as a reach truck.
The B3 is a lighter electric three-wheeler with front wheel drive. It has a single steering wheel in the front, right behind the mast. The machine takes on aisles only 1.6 metres wide and its two stage mast can lift one ton (US) to 7.7 metres. Regenerative braking and steering on demand will be standard. Freddy Brown, chairman of Translift and designer of the new Bendi, is targeting the mass market with the new truck.
Last year Translift received the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the innovation category for its narrow aisle Bendi. The first Bendi with a rotating mast was built in 1988. More than 4,500 Bendi trucks have been sold since. Articulated trucks - the Bendi and Narrow Aisle's Flexi - now account for 2.6% of the total UK forklift market.
Translift produces 400 units a year in the UK, and 80% are electric machines. Employing 90 people, Translift's turnover was GBP16 million (USD29.5 million) in 2002 and GBP18 million (USD33.2 million) in 2003.
The UK operation builds machines for the UK, Australian and New Zealand markets. In Europe, sales of the Bendi are handled by Manitou, and Landoll Corporation manufactures and markets the trucks in the USA. A gas-powered Bendi is built in Ireland by Aisle-Master, which is owned by Combilift, under an agreement with Translift.
Translift says it has several new products for narrow-aisle applications in the pipeline. In the meantime, the importance of leasing and short and long-term hire increases. About half the Bendis sold enter the market in some form of rental. Translift has a rental fleet of 300 it hires short term across the UK.