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Editor's Pick - Materials Handling


Versatile truck for offsite manufacturing

19 August 2023

OFFSITE HOUSEBUILDER Greencore needed to handle a diverse range of incoming raw materials, and turned to Combilift for a solution.

The off-site manufacturing process enables the timber frame superstructure to be erected quickly and safely, and a home is air tight and water tight just two weeks after the first panel arrives on site.

One of factory manager Rob Bresnahan’s early tasks for the new premises was to find a forklift that was suitable for handling the diverse mix of incoming raw materials, as well as ideally being able to lift and move the sizeable and bulky finished panels around the factory and yard areas. Using one truck for multiple tasks, in the storage, production and outside areas was a more efficient and cost effective investment. And given the nature of the company’s homes – which are targeted to be better than net zero in terms of whole life embodied carbon – electric power was a further prerequisite. 

Greencore manufactures homes that set a new standard for low carbon construction, coupled with energy efficiency and low carbon living. The company has big ambitions for the future, aiming to deliver over 10,000 Climate Positive homes across the south of England by 2035. 

Greencore recently moved to a new 30,000 sq ft facility in Bicester, where it produces its innovative Biond closed timber frame panels, insulated with natural materials, the output of which is currently enough for more than 200 homes per year. 

An evaluation of a number of truck brands on the market eventually led to the Irish forklift manufacturer Combilift, which has focussed on expanding its electric range over the past five years or so. With a wide choice of models, Rob went for the Combi-CB4E - a 4t capacity compact  counterbalance design truck. Its versatility enables it to handle pallets of the insulation materials, packs of timber which can be 5m long and weigh up to 3000kg, and the sizeable finished wall, floor and roof panels. Its multidirectional capability, which was one of the selling points for Rob, also allows for safe, low level sideways transportation of the largest loads, enabling widths between stacked products to be kept at a minimum. As production volumes increase, this space saving handling will become even more of an advantage.         

“A number of factors influenced our decision to replace an old LPG counterbalance truck with the Combilift,” said Rob. “I’d had previous dealings with the manufacturer and was impressed with the quality of products, their reputation in the industry and the level of customer service. The CB’s size, lift capacity, manoeuvrability and emission-free operation is perfect for our handling requirements.”

For more information, visit www.combilift.com