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New plant, technology investments steer Combilift to bigger picks

Ireland’s Combilift has built a global presence in material handling equipment over the past two decades. To differentiate its offerings from standard machines, it initially focused on multidirectional lift trucks to handle long products, especially lumber, siding and steel service center stock, and navigate narrow storage conditions.

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The new flagship occupies a 100-acre site and, with an 11-acre footprint, is one of Ireland’s largest manufacturing operations under a single roof. Skylights comprise 30 percent of the roof area and augment 1,100 LED fixtures with individual PIR sensors. Solar panels supply 185 kW of energy, while a 1-MW biomass plant—running on recycled wood fuel—heats assembly areas and spraying booths. Combilift holds ISO 9001 Quality Management, ISO 14001 Environment Management and OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series certifications. PHOTO: Combilift
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Concrete Products (entry, interior)
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CombiLift rounds out the Combi-SC series with the Mobile Gantry, which can be operated in tandem mode for transferring bridge girders or other long loads. The MG operates in six steering modes: front or rear wheel, four-wheel, crab or carousel, and four-way, multi-directional. PHOTOS: Concrete Products
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>With an eye to optimized material flow—from production points to storage yard to trailer placement—Combilift engineers design, plan and deliver load-handling analyses and 3D animations for Combi-SC customers across the globe.
STRADDLE CARRIER SERIES
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The new factory will support production of Combilift’s deep forklift offering, along with the much heavier duty Straddle Carrier series, a model from which is shown here en route to yard demonstration. The three-axle Combi-SC models exhibit maneuverability and a broad wheelbase to maximize load stability; and, enable pre-loading from ground level, curtailing the need for personnel on trailers while reducing handling steps. A centrally located, ground-accessible cab is designed for operator safety and comfort, and affords 360-degree visibility.

Through Combilift USA, North Carolina, the manufacturer is well established in North American building materials and warehouse material handling equipment markets, and is now looking to bigger, taller orders with the Straddle Carrier series. The three-axle Combi-SC cranes are available in 22- to 120-ton capacity; the four-axle MG (Mobile Gantry) models in 45- or 90-ton capacities. Combilift USA has delivered series models to one U.S. and two Canadian precast and pipe operations, and aims to replicate in gantry-style cranes the successful template it parlayed in customized forklift solutions.

NEW FLAGSHIP

Backed with an international network of 250 dealers, Combilift exports nearly all of its output to 85 countries. It is gearing up for more exports to North America and around the globe on the strength of a $55 million, 500,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Monaghan, about 90 minutes north of Dublin. Headcount is projected to grow considerably from its current 550, with an emphasis on skilled technicians, design engineers, logistics and supply chain specialists, plus those with mechanical and electrical mechatronics skills.

“We have employed an additional 230 people since we announced our plans for this factory in 2015. The combination of this state of the art production plant and the growing skilled workforce will allow us to double production within the next five years,” says Managing Director Martin McVicar, who co-founded the business in 1998 with Technical Director Robert Moffett. “Combilift has set the benchmark for mass production of customized, innovative products. Mass customization is the new frontier as customers are increasingly expecting products to be tailored to their requirements. We take feedback from customers and dealers to identify solutions that best match their specific needs. We evolve with our clients.”

Combilift invests 7 percent of its annual sales to in research & development to improve machine customization capability and maximize equipment users’ returns on investment, McVicar notes, adding, “The flexibility in our new facility means that we can continue to accommodate any request for a customized material handling solution. We also see ourselves as much more than [an equipment] manufacturer and are transforming the transport and logistics sector with our innovative, space-spacing products and services.”

Combilift developed the world’s first multidirectional, all-wheel drive forklift powered by an internal combustion engine. In its first year of operation, Combilift produced 18 units, 17 of which were exported. The company has more than doubled in the last five years, and counts more than 40,000 machines running in upwards of 90 countries.

“Combilift has always focused on niche market segments and has a proven track record of launching one to two new products annually,” McVicar observes. “In the first 10 years, [we] concentrated on the long load material handling sector. Between 2008 and 2018, CombiLift diversified its product ranged by developing heavy load handling products.” — Combilift USA, Greensboro, N.C., 877/COMBI56; www.combilift.com