The NMHG factory in Northern Ireland received the visit of the Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday, 20th November. Speaking to the workforce on the shopfloor during an open Q&A session, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of great manufacturing operations like this one to the UK's ability to compete and succeed in what he referred to as "the global race".
The Prime Minister also chose the opportunity of his visit to announce that the G8 summit he will be hosting in 2013 will be held in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland. Situated in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, the NACCO Materials Handling Group (NMHG) plant is the largest of only a few counterbalanced forklift truck factories remaining in the UK. Up to 14,000 forklift trucks are manufactured each year at the Craigavon plant, which makes a significant contribution to the overall NMHG global output. These products are distributed world-wide under the globally recognised brand names of Hyster® and Yale®.
Welcoming the Prime Minister, NMHG Plant Manager Alan Little said: "With over 30 years' experience in Craigavon, and 375,000 forklift trucks later, we have proven that we can successfully and competitively manufacture product in Northern Ireland, for export all around the world."
The 35,896m2 (386,241ft2) factory opened in 1981 and now employs around 600 people. Having seen significant investments in recent years, it maintains a philosophy of high volume, low cost, high quality, innovation and on time delivery. The Craigavon site is a significant contributor to the UK's export drive, exporting over 80% of the products manufactured there to Europe, Russia, Africa and the Middle East. In addition an extensive service activity is generated in the UK, through distributor Briggs Equipment Ltd, which now has the country's largest Materials Handling Equipment service infrastructure with over 600 multi-skilled engineers and branches across the country. Briggs delivers Materials Handling solutions and provides service back-up for fork-lift trucks and warehousing equipment manufactured by NMHG.
A great example of a strong manufacturing operation in the UK, as well as a leader in engineering and manufacturing quality, the NMHG Craigavon plant received the Northern Ireland Quality Award 2011 (EFQM), which is described as "the highest form of recognition an organisation can achieve, discerned from among its own peers."
The Northern Ireland Quality Awards, is organised by the Centre for Competitiveness, and is the premier business event in Northern Ireland, recognising organisations that have demonstrated excellence in their overall business processes and performance.
Other awards and recognition received by the Craigavon plant include National Training Awards Northern Ireland Winner 2010 and Investors in People Gold Award, both demonstrating the company's commitment to its people.
The Prime Minister praised the behaviour of the company and its workforce in responding to the global economic challenges by investing in efficiency and skills, in particular apprenticeship and training initiatives "to help this business survive and thrive".
The Craigavon factory is fully committed to quality and, like all NMHG sites, is ISO certified, employing world class manufacturing technology and state of the art processes. From concept to launch, every NMHG product manufactured at the Craigavon plant follows a carefully structured development process. Extensive customer research feeds into the design objectives, together with new available technologies that could enhance the product design.
At world-class test facilities, components and prototypes undergo test cycles equivalent to years of continuous truck operation in extreme conditions. Field testing in "real life" application sites provides further data and confirmation that the product is meeting all the design targets before launching to market. Some of these tests are undertaken at the factory in Northern Ireland.
From headquarters to individual NMHG facilities, the company recognises a responsibility to customers, dealers and employees, as well as to the environment and local communities. The Craigavon plant has strong links with local universities and colleges in Northern Ireland, offering apprenticeship programmes that provide young people with valuable skills and qualifications.
NMHG is working to improve efficiency and reduce waste in its operations and developing and producing lift trucks that improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption for its customers' operations.
NACCO Materials Handling Group is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio and is the operating company of Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc., a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HY.
The company has 12 manufacturing locations world-wide of which Craigavon is one of the largest in terms of the volume of product produced.
NMHG designs, engineers, manufactures, sells, and services a portfolio of materials handling equipment, covering hundreds of end-user applications in over 700 industries. Through partnerships with experts in areas such as hydrogen fuel cell and advanced battery technologies NMHG is helping to bring more sustainable and greener technologies to the materials handling market, while helping to increase productivity and decrease operational costs.