PLANT

Combilift strikes a new balance


March 5, 2009
by Joe Terrett, Editor

A Combi-CB moves in to pick up long loads of PVC pipe.

Photo: Combilift

Combilift Ltd. has been helping companies move loads in and out of tight spots for 10 years now, and to mark its first decade of operation, the Irish forklift manufacturer has introduced a new counterbalance truck called the Combi-CB.

This is something a little different for the company, which entered the marketplace in 1998 focusing on the long/awkward-load niche. It was established by company director Robert Moffett and managing director Martin McVicar, both of whom came from Moffet Engineering. Moffet developed the successful Mounty truck-mounted forklift for the family business and McVicar was the firm’s chief engineer. When the business was sold in 1997, they teamed up to introduce the world’s first engine-powered three-wheel drive, multi-directional forklift. Typical applications include PVC extrusions, steel stock, lumber and many other wide loads that don’t sit comfortably on a pallet that’s on the move.

The Combi-CB easily handles palletized goods or long loads and is aimed at companies using conventional counterbalance forklifts, reach trucks, side loaders, or electric four-way forklifts.

It has been in development for two years, but on Sept. 9, the company was ready to unveil the Combi-CB to the world and flew in journalists (myself included) from 22 of its global markets to see the forklift in action.

Running on rubber
First some specs. Available in liquid propane (LP), diesel and electric configurations, it has Combilift’s three-wheel, manoeuvrable drive and operates in four directions, running on rubber for indoor or outdoor use. A 200-millimetre side shift is standard and it features a 1,400-millimetre fork carriage. Options include an enclosed cabin with a heater for less hospitable environments; a hydraulic fork positioner that lifts from ground level; and a detachable four-fork spreader bar, which is handy for long loads. Since there’s no platform, materials can be stacked from the floor up, allowing for 100% use of lower storage areas. And because it’s small, the Combi-CB easily zips in and out of containers to haul pallets or long loads directly to the warehouse.

Two years ago Combilift officially opened a new 100,000 square-foot manufacturing facility on a 46-acre site in County Monaghan, a beautiful bit of country that accounts for roughly 500 square miles of rolling hills in the north Midlands of Ireland. The manufacturer has added 20,000 square-feet of production space to accommodate production of the new vehicle, and is optimistic about sales. McVicar expects 300 to 400 of the forklifts will hit the market in 2009 adding $15.8 million to the balance sheet and about 20 jobs.