Combilift and timber – a perfect combination

Some of the first customers to recognise the benefits of Combilift’s initial product – the C4000 multidirectional forklift – were from the timber industry, and since 1998 the relationship between the Irish manufacturer of handling solutions and this sector has continued to strengthen.

According to Combilift’s CEO and co-founder Martin McVicar, over 40% of the company’s sales are to timber importers, merchants, constructors and related businesses, making it one of the most important industries that relies on Combilift products for safe, space saving and productive materials handling.

Having started with the original C4000 truck, more models of the C-series followed and these are now available with lift capacities from 2.5t to 25t. Combilift became acknowledged as the leading global supplier of long load handling solutions, but its current range goes far beyond this. Its Aisle Master articulated forklifts are designed for narrow aisle operation and handle pallets as well as other loads, as do the Combi-CB multidirectional counterbalance design forklifts.

Straddle carriers and mobile gantries cope with extreme oversized loads or containers and last year Combilift introduced its Combi-CSS Container Slip-Sheet, which can complete a full container load cycle in under 6 minutes – a cost-effective solution that is faster and safer when handling rough sawn timber, flat-packed furniture or panel products for example.

The ethos behind all of these innovative products, designed and manufactured in Monaghan, Ireland and exported to over 85 countries, is the ability to “do more with less” as Martin McVicar puts it. The majority of Combilifts can replace a combination of other types of machines, making them versatile, multi-tasking machines. This saves on capital expenditure, lowers fleet running costs and maintenance overheads as well as reducing the carbon footprint. The ability to work in confined spaces and narrower aisles than conventional trucks also enables best use of that very valuable commodity – space – and can avoid the need for hiring costly additional storage or relocation if businesses grow.

One long-term user of Combilift’s products is Lawsons Timber, which saw the potential of the C4000 model not long after its launch on the market. Around 35 C-Series trucks are now in operation at its 17 sites in and around London, and their ability to replace a combination of counterbalance and sideloader models is a major benefit when handling long products in tight spaces.

Lawsons is also capitalising on Combilift’s expansion of its electric range. Most recent additions are two C4000Es at the Merton branch and numerous STEs (stand on models) at Whetstone and Camden. “We are keen to keep emissions as low as we can for the good of the environment,” adds David Harvey. “Also to keep noise levels to a minimum for our neighbours in residential areas. These electric models tick the boxes on both counts. Electric power is definitely the way forward for us and our drivers also like the quiet operation they offer.”

Since the latest C4000 has been on site the results have been impressive according to Rodney: “The time saving has been enormous – we are down to five minutes per pack – or four minutes 23 seconds to be precise. This makes a huge difference when dealing with the four to seven artics a day that we typically load or unload. Quick stock location enables us to adhere to just-in-time delivery schedules. A knock-on bonus is that we now only need 30 minutes for the monthly stocktake compared to around two and a half hours previously.”

For the complete feature read the Autumn Issue of Timber Trader UK

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