When it comes to finding the right package, the CMTP group of companies is always a good place to start.
Following its recent acquisition of Aspect Packaging, CMTP is now Australia's largest combined manufacturer and supplier of pallets, packaging products and associated supplies. It is a major producer of timber and export pallets, timber boxes, crates and bins, livestock penning, timber mouldings, architraves and skirtings. CMTP also supplies FIBC's, Coreflute, plastic wrap, cardboard cartons and packaging products.
Step back to the middle of 2009 however, and it was a case of the packager needing to find the right package, as Aspect Packaging looked to replace the forklift fleet at its Braeside facility in Melbourne.
"We wanted to find the right material handling package for our specific needs," Fraser Lockhart, the CMTP Group's Process Improvement Coordinator said.
"It wasn't just about finding the forklifts which offered the most features or the ones which were the least expensive. What we wanted to identify were the forklifts which had the features which best matched our needs and which were backed by an organisation which could meet our expectations for service and replacement parts supplies."
Because business cycles aren't always predictable, the company also needed to identify a supplier which could provide rental equipment at short notice to cover periods of peak activity.
Powerlift Nissan has ties with the packaging specialist going back 17 years, yet it wasn't the incumbent supplier. It had to join the incumbent and two other brands on a shortlist which underwent a comprehensive assessment.
The replacement forklifts ultimately chosen would need to perform efficiently and safely in busy manufacturing environments. They would need to be fuel efficient, reliable and backed by a supplier with the service and replacement parts support to ensure maximum forklift availability.
Now part of the CMTP group, the busy Braeside plant provides a stern challenge for forklifts required for its separate facilities handling cardboard, timber pallet processing and case and crate assembly.
"We needed two 1.8 tonne capacity forklifts for the cardboard division, a pair of 2.5 tonne forks and the 3.5 tonner for the timber pallet processing area and a 3 tonner for our case and crate facility," Fraser Lockhart said.
"Apart from looking at the basic performance criteria needed to get the job done, our assessment looked closely at parts pricing, service back-up and fuel economy.
"We even gathered information on what other organisations' experience had been with each of the brands we were considering, and of course our own operators' feedback after test sessions was vital."
Part of the evaluation process before a decision was taken on a new forklift fleet was an on-site direct comparison between a 2.5 tonne capacity Nissan 1F Series gas powered forklift and the incumbent brand's direct competitor, which had previously been regarded as the benchmark.
CMTP's operators set up the fuel economy and performance comparison to ensure it reflected their everyday activities and the results were a clear win to the Nissan.
"Our calculations showed we could achieve a potential annual saving of up to $4,000 on LPG costs by switching to Nissan," Fraser Lockhart said. That was by no means the only reason we elected to go with Powerlift Nissan, but it was probably the clincher.
"Powerlift Nissan provided us with the total package. Their forklifts have all the performance, fuel efficiency, safety and usability features we need and they are backed by reliable service and parts organisations with competitive pricing.
"The Nissan specification isn't 'basic'. In fact it includes built in digital scales, but we're not paying for forklifts with features which aren't relevant to us. At the same time we're getting equipment with advanced, low emission engines and excellent fuel saving and safety features which we can use," said Fraser.
CMTP group particularly likes the PIN code access for drivers which addresses occupational health and safety concerns surrounding unauthorised use and the 'auto off' function which shuts down the forklift in defined circumstances.
The 'auto off' function is activated as a safety and fuel economy measure if an operator leaves the driving position or when the forklift has been idling for 60 seconds.
Other standard features on CMTP's new forklifts include a super wide view mast for maximum safety and productivity, digital maintenance diagnostics, low noise levels for minimum operator fatigue and a maintenance free Cushioned Stability Control system for load and operator safety.
It's early days since the arrival of the new Nissan forklift fleet at CMTP's Braeside facility, but already the signs are good. "We've definitely got the right package," Fraser Lockhart said.