Plugging in to greener power with Combilift

By Martin McVicar, CEO and co-founder of Combilift

When Combilift was established 25 years ago, diesel power was the default choice as at the time it was considered the best option to ensure powerful and reliable performance for most users and suppliers of industrial vehicles such as forklift trucks.

Times have changed however, as have environmental concerns, which have prompted a shift in public opinion towards what are seen as greener and more sustainable practices. This has in turn influenced decision makers across diverse industry sectors to consider switching from diesel to electric power – particularly when it’s time to renew the fleet.

More stringent legislation has also played its part in promoting battery electric vehicles and equipment.

As a manufacturer and an exporter to 85 countries, Combilift has witnessed the shift to electric power over the past couple of decades or so, the pace of which has increased markedly in the past few years.

We launched our first electric C-Series model over 18 years ago, and now more than 70% of the trucks that come off the production lines in Monaghan are electric, and this is set to increase.

Developments and improvements in battery technology enable ever increasing lift capacities, longer run times and longer operation per charge. The fact that electric trucks are now on a par with diesel powered ones when it comes to performance has addressed one of the previous major concerns, and companies that choose electric no longer worry about compromising on aspects such as productivity.

As electric powered trucks do not have traditional combustion engines or hydraulic transmissions, there is no longer any need to check and top up engine fluids or lubricants. This results in longer intervals between services, for cost savings as well as convenience.

Just as on-street traffic emissions can cause serious health problems, people need to be protected from pollution at their workplace and a key benefit of an electric fleet is the improvement in air quality on site and the reduction of potential risks to employees and visitors.

This becomes even more of an issue in areas with poor ventilation.

Additionally, more and more companies are aiming to quieten down their operations by using electric trucks. For those with premises in residential or urban areas, keeping noise levels to a minimum can substantially improve relationships with the neighbours. It also enables forklift operation during so-called unsocial hours, for loading or unloading deliveries for example.

As part of Combilifts’ celebrations to mark our 25th year in business, we are launching no fewer than five new models this year, the majority of which are electric powered. Two of these, the Combi-CUBE and the 7t capacity Combi-CB70E were launched at German trade fairs in April and May.

The welfare of the workforce has become ever more important over the years and drivers of industrial vehicles quite rightly expect the highest levels of comfort and safety. Our designers have therefore gone to great lengths to ensure that the latest models incorporate top quality components that ensure sophisticated ergonomics for a stress-free, in-cab environment.

Features include generous room and excellent all-round visibility in the cab, hydraulic cabin mounts, adjustable telescopic steering column and the Grammer MSG65low-profile mechanical suspension seat.

A new option is the auto swivel seat, which automatically engages and swivels the seat and armrest 15° to the right or left to accord with the direction of travel selected by the operator – designed to reduce driver strain, particularly when travelling in reverse.