The Aisle-Master operating at Comfort Uniforms' warehouse.
Irish articulated truck maker Aisle-Master Ltd's managing director was down under this week to show his support for Combilift Australia.
Gerry McHugh said the Australian market was an important one for Aisle-Master and he had visited Australian customers annually since 2002.
When Aisle-Masters were initially produced in Ireland in 2001, the production output was about 20 units. Last year 200 units were produced and McHugh forecasts 250 units for 2007.
So far, 86 Aisle-Masters have been sold in Australia, making Australia a key market.
Aisle-Masters have lift heights up to 10.5 metres and capacities of 2,000kg. They can work in aisles as narrow as 1.75 metres, thus increasing
warehouse storage capacity.The Aisle-Master can work indoors as a warehouse truck and outdoors like a counterbalanced forklift, eliminating double handling and the need for two forklifts.
McHugh said there were plans to increase the lift height of the Aisle-Master to match the lift heights of turret trucks, but no details could be disclosed yet.
"Floor space is continually increasing in price year after year. If a client runs out of space, he has to look at the costs of relocation. Staff may even leave.
"In many cases, articulated trucks have saved customers hundreds of thousands of dollars in relocation costs," he said.
The electric Aisle-Master was introduced in 2005. McHugh said the production volume of electric Aisle-Masters this year would equal the volume of LPG Aisle-Masters.
"Last year, the ratio was 60:40 in favour of LPG trucks. The demand for electric trucks is spurred by the rising cost of fuel and the fact that electric trucks produce no emissions."
Aisle-Masters are produced at Combilift's Clontribet plant in Ireland. McHugh was working in truck-mounted forklift manufacturer Moffett Engineering's design department but left to start Aisle-Master in 2000. The developers of the Combilift multidirectional forklift, Robert Moffett, Martin McVicar and Gerry Harte, are co-founders of the company. McHugh said 30 per cent of Aisle-Masters were sold in the UK, 16 per cent in the US, 14 per cent in Australia and the rest in Europe.
MHF Imports, the Australian importer of Combilifts and Aisle-Masters announced the establishment of Combilift Australia at a media briefing in Sydney, Australia this week. Combilift Australia would import, distribute and market the forklifts and provide technical and marketing support to dealers.