Crown, one of the world’s largest material handling companies, is celebrating a European anniversary.
For 30 years, the lift-truck manufacturer has been producing highly successful products in the Bavarian town of Roding, Germany. Crown’s European production facility was opened in 1986, and has been steadily expanding ever since. Today, Roding is among the most important production sites in the company’s worldwide network.
Back in 1986, Crown started producing components, and the PTH 20 Series pallet trucks, in Roding. Today, the factory manufactures a comprehensive range of lift trucks – from hand-pallet trucks to low-level order pickers through to reach trucks with lift heights of up to 13m.
Milestones in the 30-year evolution of production operations in Roding include, for example, the start of electric lift truck production in 1993, followed by the introduction of WE Series stackers a year later – the first Crown product to be completely developed and manufactured in Germany. This trend is now a well-established norm, and one of the key contributors to Crown’s success in Europe.
Interdisciplinary development and design teams based in Germany work closely with Crown customers to develop European products for European markets that are also successfully used in many other parts of the world. But Roding’s activities are no longer confined to producing robust, efficient lift trucks – the facility is also closely involved in integrating the latest cutting-edge technologies into logistics and warehouse processes.
A good example of this pioneering technology “made in Germany” is Crown’s QuickPick Remote order-picking system. The innovative system, which has already won multiple awards, combines a lift truck with intuitive remote control via a smart glove. This ingenious solution streamlines work processes and results in significantly higher productivity in low-level order picking and improved operator safety.
Products manufactured in Roding have been regular recipients of prestigious awards and accolades. Multiple products have won the GOOD DESIGN Award, the iF Design Award, the International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) and the high-profile IFOY Award. This acclamation serves to underline Crown’s long-standing success formula in Europe.
“The dynamic development of our Roding facility is proof that our European strategy for the last 30 years has worked,” says Ken Dufford, Crown vice president Europe. “Today, Roding is all about consistently high manufacturing quality and state-of-the-art production processes.”
A vertical manufacturing depth of up to 85% is the perfect basis for optimal control of product quality, cost and service delivery. And the use of modular design and common components across the whole lift-truck range means that spare parts are readily available, and that Crown is flexible enough to provide in-depth responses to specific customer requirements.
“Roding’s development proves that systematically pursuing our vertically integrated manufacturing strategy was and still is the right way to go,” explains Mads Andreasen, director of manufacturing, who heads the production team in Roding. “This exceptional vertical integration means we can provide our customers with tailor-made solutions that increase their operational productivity and efficiency. In short: if it’s labelled Crown on the outside, it’s got Crown on the inside!”
Customers can also confirm that this is a winning concept. When Stürmer Maschinen set up a new logistics hub in 2014, the company took the opportunity to renew its entire lift-truck fleet. Kilian Stürmer, CEO of Stürmer Maschinen GmbH, decided in favour of a customised combination of Crown forklifts.
“We don’t compromise on quality, comfort or safety,” says Stürmer, which is why he wanted to assess the quality of Crown’s production processes for himself before making his final decision. Stürmer greatly appreciates the longevity of the finished components and confirms that “the quality of the individual parts in Crown’s products is first-class. I couldn’t find such high-quality products anywhere else.”
2014 saw another historic milestone, with the opening of a second production plant in Roding. Even from the outside, the new building conveys a powerful sense of high-tech efficiency. And the inside doesn’t disappoint, meeting all the latest production technology benchmarks.
Lift-truck components are manufactured in the old plant, while final truck assembly takes place in the 11,800 sq m expanse of the new production shop. The centrepiece of the new facility is a separate testing area with a 20m glass tower, where new trucks are thoroughly tested before they leave the factory.
“The decision to expand our European production facility was a strategic one,” says Ken Dufford. “As a family-run business, we take the long-term view. And in Roding, we have everything we need for the sustainable development of our market position in Europe. Roding lies at the heart of Europe. What’s more, there are plenty of highly qualified, highly motivated specialists available locally.
"Together, these are ideal prerequisites for further European growth. So we are very optimistic about our future development, and I look forward to many more years of success in Roding.”