Multilift takes the load

Multilift is the leading supplier of load handling systems and solutions for logistics, transport and construction professionals.

Manufactured in Finland and China, Multilift demountables have become world famous thanks to their excellent reliability.

Seppo Heino, marketing director of Multilift Oy explains: “Multilift, which was the first company in the world to manufacture demountables, is the leading supplier of load handling solutions. Demountables are an efficient way to increase the usage of the trucks because they minimise empty return trips and reduce delays due to loading times.”

The company’s history can be traced back to the end of the 1940s when the Terho brothers acquired a second-hand GMC truck from the army to transport timber. Soon after, they discovered loading wood was extremely hard and often very slow. As a result, they started to explore how to make the work easier by using the truck more efficiently and the world’s first mechanical cablelift demountable was born.

In 1947, the brothers patented their unique idea, which was used with the front winch of the truck. The invention enabled the use of many different loading bodies, speeding up the transportations and making them more efficient. Due to the popularity of this patent, the invention broke through, and the brothers founded a company called Autolava Oy in 1949.

At first the company operated in Naantali in Western Finland, but in 1961, all operations were moved to the present location in Raisio. In 1968 Sponsor Oy acquired the company and in 1977 Partek purchased it as a part of the Multilift Group. This group consisted of Autolava Oy, the tipping cylinder and taillift manufacturer Nummi Oy Ab and Swedish Norba AB, the manufacturer of wastehandling equipment. Today Multilift is a part of Hiab, the world’s leading supplier of load handling equipment for vehicles.

“Multilift is now the world’s leading supplier of demountable systems, exporting its products to customers around the globe,” says Seppo. “We currently produce three types of demountables – skiploaders, cablelift demountables and hooklift systems. In addition to this comprehensive and competitive product range, we have a global sales and service network. Over the years, this network, along with a lot of hard work and innovation, has helped us build a reputation for quality, service and reliability.”

In 2006, Multilift launched the XR Power Range, a revolutionary milestone in load handling. This is the latest in a long line of innovations, which Seppo was excited to tell Manufacturing Today Europe more about: “The XR Power Range, launched last September at the IAA Exhibition in Hannover, Germany, is a ground-breaking new range, which has numerous unique features. Simply speaking, the pioneering XR Power Range is a hooklift with a capacity from 14 tonnes to 30 tonnes. Currently available within this range are the XR21, which is a hooklift with a 21 tonne capacity, and the XR26, a hooklift with a 26 tonne capacity. Of course, over the coming months we will expand the series and by 2008 we will have a complete collection.”

Seppo, along with other load handling experts, is truly excited by the XR Power Range. Featuring a unique control system, to name but one of the range’s many distinctive characteristics, the XR has the potential to revolutionise the load handling industry: “The XR Power Range has three new features – fast-tipping, automatic control and friction release – which combine to make life more convenient for the operator of the demountable loading system. It is a truly pioneering product,” explains Seppo.

He continues: “Using consumer feedback, gained from customer experiences on older Multilift models and systems, we have created something truly wonderful. We have perfected our technology, revolutionised load handling and dramatically improved efficiency. In this world driven by cost and efficiency, the market is becoming increasingly unstable and we needed to develop a range, which more accurately met the needs of the customer. The XR Power Range does this and enables us to react more quickly in an ever-changing market.”

It is the new control system, despite all the other improvements to the hooklift, which perhaps defines this trend-setting range: “The XR’s control system is unique,” adds Seppo. “It is the first hooklift in serial production which has an LC control. The new control system has improved technology and functions over its predecessor. It has improved reliability and is also easier to install, which is important in the modern world of automated truck manufacturing.”

In addition to creating a product that better meets the needs of its customers, Multilift has also invested huge sums in improving its operations. The company has started to listen more closely to the needs of vehicle manufacturers who will eventually mount a Multilift system onto their truck. Indeed, Multilift has done everything in its power to ensure its systems are easy to mount on trucks: “This is extremely important to us,” says Seppo. “We wanted to improve the installation process and even opened a new paint shop, which means we now paint our products in-house before they are sent to be attached to the vehicle. Traditionally this was not the case, but they are now delivered painted and thanks to our unique bolt-on mounting concept, there is minimised welding of the hooklift.

“The installation time is therefore shorter, which is hugely beneficial to our customers and truck manufacturers, as it shortens lead times. Over the last few years, we have found ourselves working on the basis that we would do more to prepare the hooklift for installation. Thanks to the efforts we have made, we have achieved this and reduced installation times.”

The XR Power Range has been very well received by the market. Multilift has huge expectations for this range, expectations which are beginning to be met. “It is an extremely important range for us,” admits Seppo. “It is always risky launching a new series, especially when the collection it is replacing was so successful. We are very happy and I am personally convinced that this will be a success.”

Looking to the future, despite the successes the company has enjoyed, Seppo is keen to emphasise the importance of remaining open-minded and continuing to innovate: “Our customers are the experts in this business,” he concludes. ”So we must continue to remain open-minded, maintain close relationships and really listen to their needs. I think that is essential for our success.”

Products: Load handling systems
Sites: Finland and China
Employees: 220