by European correspondent Luc de Smet
The new Monaghan headquarters and factory.
Combilift, the Irish builder of all wheel drive four-way forklifts, launched three machines at the inauguration of its new headquarters and factory in Monaghan last week.
Combilift invited 80 journalists from Europe and North America to the EUR10 million (USD12.5 million), 100,000 square foot (9,290 square metre) facility that was officially opened by Irish enterprise minister Michael Martin.
Irish enterprise minister Michael Martin.
The new facility can produce one unit an hour or 2,000 units a year as expected demand increases. Management aims to increase the workforce of 150 to 250 over the next three years and increase exports from EUR60 million (USD75.2 million) to EUR100 million (USD125.3 million) by 2010.
The three new models now on the market are a TeleCombi, a semi-rough terrain C 5000L (10,000lb capacity) and a new GT stand-on forklift.
Martin McVicar, Combilift managing director, said customers were fitting telescopic reach forks on Combilifts.
"Our sales & marketing and designers designed the TeleCombi by fitting a boom to a regular carriage with off-the-shelf components. With the TeleCombi we are giving customers [the ability] to double loading capacity in their dispatching areas," McVicar said.
The one-stage boom can reach three metres deep across the width of a trailer and lift up to 3,000kg. The boom is built on the rolling mast carriage for additional reach. The product can be brought back horizontally.
"Integral side shift is offered standard," McVicar said. The three wheel hydrostatic drive, four-way, six ton machine is available in diesel and LPG. The engine drive train is turned 90 degrees.
The semi-rough terrain C 5000L is equipped with large, solid pneumatic tyres that enable it to handle long loads on unpaved yards and semi-rough terrain and narrow aisles indoors.
The new GT series stand-on forklift.
"Highlander Equipment, our dealer from New Jersey (UK), came up with the idea. Cab size has been increased 150mm for driver comfort. The machine has an integrated lumber box," McVicar said.
The new GT stand-on forklift works in narrow aisles and lifts up to 4.5 tons. The four-wheel steer, electric GT can be fitted with an optical guiding system, eliminating the need for mechanical guide rails.
"We believe the TeleCombi will bring large volumes but the larger wheeled semi-rough terrain unit will become our largest product. It will account for 20 per cent of volume," McVicar said.
Combilift was established in 1998 by Martin McVicar and technical director Robert Moffett, who developed the truck-mounted forklift of the same name, now part of Partek. In its first year Combilift sold 18 units. Current production is 1,500 units a year. About 95 per cent of Combilift products are exported to more than 45 countries.
Thirty per cent of sales are achieved by a US wholly owned subsidiary, Combilift USA, in Greensboro, North Carolina, which services North America and Mexico. There are 1,200 Combilift machines currently operating in the UK, where the market is expected to consume 250 new machines this year. In 2005 Combilift received a design achievement award from the UK Fork Lift Truck Association.