The 20th and 21st April saw the celebration of 35 years of manufacturing tough Hyster forklift trucks in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, where the latest product, the Hyster XT Series forklifts is being introduced into European production.
On the first day of the event, guests heard the story of the forklift factory, which began with the opening of the site in 1981. It showcased the advances at the factory over the years, highlighting how it has set the standard for worldwide quality in forklift manufacturing as well as recognizing the experience and dedication of the team at the plant. The interactive event also looked towards a positive future, with the exclusive unveiling of the latest forklift truck to be manufactured in Craigavon for export across EMEA – the Hyster XT Series.
A highlight of the day was a special ceremony where a tree was planted by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster together with the current Plant Manager Jim Downey to acknowledge the contribution of all the staff at the Craigavon facility since it opened. This tree was planted near the location of an oak tree which has been at the site since before the plant was built and has been respectfully preserved.
“While we have celebrated our past and the success of the plant over the past 35 years, we have an exciting future ahead. We have sown the seeds for continued growth and sustainability at the Craigavon factory,” says Jim Downey, Plant Manager.
Congratulating the company, First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster said “This company is a real example of manufacturing excellence and world class production. Hyster-Yale has quite rightly earned a first class reputation for expertise and dedication. I commend the entire team for their commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.”
The forklift factory in Craigavon, near Belfast, opened in April 1981 and is the largest of the few forklift truck manufacturing plants remaining in the UK today. The plant has been a true success story in Northern Ireland, expanding to over 41,300 m2 and now employing hundreds of people, many of whom have been working at the factory for decades. In fact, 33 of the current staff have been working there since the first year that the plant opened.
Click here to see a video of the plant at Craigavon, then and now. 2003 saw a significant investment to establish the Northern Ireland plant as a world-class manufacturing centre for internal combustion (ICE) trucks. In 2008, electric forklifts started to be produced at the plant, and now many thousands of different trucks are manufactured each year in Craigavon with the vast majority exported to Europe, Russia, Africa and the Middle East.
Over the years, the factory has won multiple awards for its commitment both to quality and to its staff, including achieving the Investors in People Gold Award in 2014 and being crowned “Best Place to Work” at The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards 2013. The plant in Craigavon has also led the way for sustainability in manufacturing, investing several million pounds in strategies and technologies to protect the environment, saving energy and water, and reducing carbon emissions.
The second day of the celebration incorporated the latest Hyster ‘HUB’ experience which brought together a number of innovative solutions, services and partners that help to enhance the Hyster lift truck range, now the widest in the industry.
Guests had the opportunity to learn about recent product advances notably the new Hyster XT Series, a tough and durable series of 2.0-3.0 capacity forklift trucks to suit a variety of everyday indoor and outdoor applications in logistics, distribution and manufacturing. Also showcased was the ‘Cool Truck’ designed especially for the paper and recycling industries to overcome the common problem of engines overheating due to dust and paper debris.
In addition, the interactive sessions also introduced visitors to the Hyster Tracker™ telemetry solution, designed for improved fleet management. Power options and related solutions offered by Hyster were also on show, with flexible battery extraction solutions and energy efficient trucks to meet the particular needs of tough applications.
“Our work at the Craigavon plant has helped to set the standard for quality in manufacturing processes at Hyster-Yale’s plants across the globe. We are pleased to be producing the latest Hyster XT truck here in Northern Ireland and look forward with excitement toward developments and successes we can achieve with our team over the next 35 years,” concludes Jim Downey, Plant Manager.
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