While industry statistics point to a dramatic reduction in sales of new forklift trucks within the UK, leading forklift manufacturer Jungheinrich, reports a surge in demand for its extensive range of used and refurbished trucks.
UK sales of Jungheinrich’s used equipment have more than doubled in the last two years and the company expects this upward curve to be sustained throughout 2009 and beyond.
This increase contrasts sharply with figures recently published by the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) – the UK-based trade body for manufacturers and distributors of forklift trucks – which showed a fall in new truck sales of 14.5% during 2008. According to BITA, just over 26,500 new units were sold in the UK during 2008 – the lowest quantity since 2001.
Neil Warren, Jungheinrich UK Ltd’s Used Equipment and Short Term Rental Director, believes that a lot of the growing demand for Jungheinrich’s used trucks is coming at the expense of new forklift models cheaply imported from the far east.
"We would contend that a good quality used truck that has been fully refurbished to the relevant European standards represents far better value than certain new models on the market," he says. "When you buy a used Jungheinrich forklift, for example, you have the reassurance of knowing that you also get the infrastructure of a major forklift manufacturer with a proven track record in after-sales care and customer service that some of the recent entrants to the forklift market simply cannot match."
Neil Warren also believes that the profile of the typical used forklift buyer has changed. "Historically, the biggest buyers of used materials handling equipment have been small to medium sized companies keen to increase or upgrade their truck fleets but with budgets that cannot quite stretch to new machinery," he says.
He explains: "However, financial considerations are not always the key driver and many large, profitable organisations also choose to invest in used equipment if their forklift usage patterns and the intensity at which their trucks are expected to perform do not warrant purchasing new units. Indeed, more and more larger organisations are choosing to include used trucks in their overall fleets as standby units or for lighter applications. There is now no difference in the type of company that buys new trucks and used trucks."
"Customers are now very open minded about buying using equipment," Neil Warren continues. "A growing number of companies are now happy to order a mixed fleet of new and used products. Typically, the operating costs of a used Jungheinrich truck will be the same as a new model, which means that our fully refurbished trucks will give many years of efficient and productive service,"
To cope with the demand for its used vehicle fleet and to ensure that its used trucks re-enter the market refurbished to the highest standards, the Jungheinrich Group has recently completed a major overhaul of its used truck refurbishment factory in Dresden. The economies of scale created by the additional capacity at the Dresden facility, enable Jungheinrich to offer significant cost efficiencies across its entire European used equipment fleet and trucks rebuilt at Dresden are now sold as far afield as India, Australia and Russia and all points in between.
Trucks that go through Jungheinrich’s Dresden facility are rebuilt to the same high quality. Every machine is completely dismantled and all worn or defective parts are replaced – including tyres and lift chains. The trucks are cleaned inside and out and repainted before being reassembled and safety tested.
"We are the first forklift truck manufacturer to have a factory dedicated to used truck refurbishment," says Neil Warren. "The advantage of carrying out this work within the group – rather than through third party dealers – is that we know all of the trucks that leave Dresden have been overhauled according to Jungheinrich’s quality standards so that they meet all legal requirements as well as our customers’ needs."
Trucks that have been through the Dresden refurbishment process are marketed in the UK as the Ready to Go range and Jungheinrich has opened a number of used equipment showrooms around the UK where clients can view Ready to Go trucks for themselves.
In addition to the models on display at the new showroom facilities, Jungheinrich is able to source trucks from across the group. "Typically, if a customer requires a model that is not in stock at his or her local showroom, the desired truck can be located and normally delivered within two to three weeks," says Neil Warren.
With a full refurbished Ready to Go forklift truck costing around 60 per cent of a new model, over half of all the used trucks that Jungheinrich sell in the UK are bought outright, but a significant proportion are acquired using some form of contract hire or lease purchase package.
"There are plenty of applications where only new trucks will be required and our new trucks sales continue to climb. It’s simply that the used equipment market has never really been fully developed, so it’s an exciting and rapidly growing part of our business," concludes Neil Warren.