Rather than carrying multiple spare parts, this materials handling equipment provider came to us to develop a solution that would work on any machine…
A materials handling service solution provider, with an extensive hire fleet and field service vehicles and technicians, required assistance with designing some improved hydraulics solutions that would help it comply with ever-changing regulations and reduce lead times for customers.
“Hydraulics Online has a vast knowledge of their technology and of system design.” Chris, Technical Director
This leading supplier of rental and reconditioned forklift truck had a slightly unorthodox introduction to Hydraulics Online. When its Technical Director spotted a Hydraulics Online service vehicle around nine years ago, he was just setting up a new technical department at the business. The driver of the van was Hydraulics Online’s founder Mark Tonks and the pair got talking.
Technical Director, Chris, was assisting UK- based forklift truck dealers comply with new EU and UK legislation before the manufacturing plants could implement design and production changes. He required a solution to retrofit a hydraulic consent system to hydraulically holding forklift truck attachments in order to comply with, what was at the time, new EU legislation.
Within two weeks, the Hydraulics Online team went back to Chris with a solution.
Chris says: “Hydraulics Online are the only company we’ve come across where we are able to give them these problem scenarios and they come back to us with a solution. They have a vast knowledge of their technology and of system design and, because they are independent and not tied to any one manufacturer, I know they are giving us the best solution and the best products for that solution.”
A Profitable Partnership
Our customer had an immediate order from a major materials handling equipment and forklift manufacturer to retrofit its hydraulic consent system and, in the nine years since, has sold thousands of the units in the UK and Europe.
Chris says: “The solution Hydraulics Online helped us to develop has opened up doors for us with the technical departments of these major manufacturers, strengthening our relationships and generating steadily growing income for us.”
Our customer continues to work with major international manufacturers manufacturing outside Europe to retrofit the original solution Hydraulics Online designed. Since then, Hydraulics Online has gone on to work with the business on a further five product lines, some in response to an immediate market need, like the consent valve, and others on a more speculative basis.
“With Hydraulics Online’s technical help we are able to react much faster to legislation and other change. As well as ensuring compliance, this enables us to exploit market opportunities with the major suppliers,” says Chris. “Our service work for one major manufacturer has seen a 25% year-on-year increase – and that’s all products Hydraulics Online supplies us with.”
Materials Handling Business Transformation
One transformative solution developed by the two companies has been the design of a generic and variable hydraulic system that could be adapted for all makes of forklifts.
Chris explains: “We wanted a system that would suit almost every forklift truck manufacturers product range, rather than having to order in specific parts to suit specific OEMs; something we could keep on the shelf, knowing we could modify it to suit. Hydraulics Online designed a solution that could do this for us and overnight we went from having a six-week lead time – as dictated by the ordering and delivery of parts – to being able to offer a lead time measured in hours.”
This solution is now carried by all of the business’s service vehicles so that its team of technical engineers can offer a rapid, effective, high-quality solution to its customers when required – whatever the type of vehicle; helping to improve service to customers while keeping costs down and stock lean.
… because they are independent and not tied to any one manufacturer, I know they are giving us the best solution and the best products for that solution.” Chris, Technical Director
Chris says: “Hydraulics Online are very good at quickly understanding the problem and coming back with a solution design – including the products. This is testament to their vast technical knowledge. Technical support is absolutely crucial for us and the technical and customer support Hydraulics Online offers is fantastic and really valuable. Their knowledge and their independence put them ahead of everyone else.”
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The Royal Shakespeare Company might be used to performances raising the roof, but it came to Hydraulics Online when it needed to be able to lift the stage…
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Stratford-upon-Avon theatres play host to more than one million visitors each year – all drawn by its breath-taking family Christmas shows, innovative productions and workshops and the finest theatre productions of Shakespeare’s plays in the world.
Nobody could beat Hydraulics Online on price. (Gill Leefe, Control Systems Engineer, RSC.)
When the Royal Shakespeare Company staged Wendy and Peter Pan in its Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 2013 and 2015, the whole team wanted to create a magical, beautiful experience for its family audiences.
Control Systems for Heavy Lifting
Gill Leefe is Control Systems Engineer at the RSC in Stratford and was responsible for the control of the hydraulic system. Gill says: “There are important safety considerations when using hydraulic equipment and we have to be very careful, but they can be very useful in the theatre. We do have our own mains power system for the hydraulics and we make use of them when there are big, heavy things to move.”
For the production of Wendy and Peter Pan, the hydraulics were used to move large pieces of set, to startling effect.
Gill explains: “While Wendy is looking for the lost boys, the stage begins to rise, revealing Tinkerbell underneath. In the space the elevated stage creates, another piece of set rises to reveal the hidey-hole where the Lost Boys live and eleven boys dancing on the set.”
The two separate controllers were linked together to a central control panel. With one actor strapped to one element of the moving set and more rising with the second moving element of the set, it was vital that the hydraulic systems were in perfect working order and fully safety tested.
“Sometimes I operated that show,” says Gill, “and from where I sat I could see the front row of kids. When the stage began to lift up they would jump out of their seats, wondering what was going on. Then I could see the expressions of wonder on their faces; they were really excited. It was an absolutely brilliant moment.”
The equipment was reused in 2016 at London’s Barbican theatre in the production of King Lear starring Antony Sher – following which it was returned to Stratford upon Avon for reconditioning. Gill needed to replace the Dual Driver Multi-Function Proportional Valve and a quick online search showed that Hydraulics Online could help.
“The team at Hydraulics Online were really efficient and friendly,” says Gill. “Sometimes we are not the easiest people to deal with because we can generate a lot of paperwork; taking on a new supplier can be a lengthy process for us, but Hydraulics Online worked very quickly and made it really easy for us.”
Hydraulics Online are very efficient and pleasant to deal with. (Gill Leefe, Control Systems Engineer, RSC.)
The pain of setting up a new supplier did prompt Gill to check with existing suppliers as to whether they could supply a suitable part. Gill explains: “I did call around looking for alternative quotes, but nobody could match Hydraulics Online on price.”
The part arrived in good time, ahead of the stated lead time, and Gill says she was very impressed with the service: “Hydraulics Online were very efficient and pleasant to deal with throughout and their price is the best. I will definitely be using Hydraulics Online again and would recommend them,” she comments.
The equipment is now ready to be used in the theatre to help to bring some future RSC magic to audiences.
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