Focused on being a direct service supplier to local customers, German forklift manufacturer Jungheinrich has officially re-launched its South African offices, based in Edenvale, Gauteng.
Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, Jungheinrich board member Dr Lars Brzoska said that the company was previously a small operation in South Africa and that it had decided to expand its services exponentially.
“We decided to focus on own direct sales because we found that partners and dealers usually did not have the financial power to invest into projects and rental fleets adequately,” he said.
He also noted that the company took over assets and people from its former partner BME, and brought those assets into the new establishment.
“We have also invested a lot throughout the country to bring quality and efficiency to our South African customer base,” said Brzoska, adding that bringing trust to its customers and potential customers in South Africa was a significant challenge facing the company.
“We want our customers to know that we are here to stay,” he said.
Meanwhile, Brzoska highlighted several trends that were driving the industry.
“Globally, customers are shifting from using internal combustion (IC) trucks to electrical trucks and manufacturers have to follow suit. This is not only putting pressure on the IC sector, but also the electrical sector,” he pointed out.
He added that suppliers would need to diversify, delivering outstanding performance to survive this new trend.
Brzoska also highlighted that many manufacturers were leap-frogging from the IC sector to the lithium-ion counterbalance truck market.
“We will deliver our first lithium-ion counterbalance truck with 48 V at German trade fair Cemat this year,” he said.
Cost-wise, he stated that the IC truck was cheaper with regard to initial investment costs but, in the long run, electrical driven trucks were more efficient and economical.
“In 2015, statistics showed that 63% of people in South Africa still used IC trucks, while the rest are electric driven.”
Brzoska also highlighted digitalisation as another major trend that Jungheinrich had seen developing in this sector, along with software like warehouse management systems and software interfaces.
He said that trucks were more efficient and productive than before, owing to the software, controls and logistics interfaces, where data could now flow through easily and digitally.
“Manufacturers that are only focused on building trucks and not on incorporating software into their portfolio will lose out in the long term,” he maintained.
Semi- and fully automated solutions for trucks and warehouses were another trend taking hold in the industry.
“With labour becoming more expensive, you need to have automated processes to remain relevant,” he concluded.