Customer first – from MHD magazine

Crown Equipment’s customer-centric philosophy is shaping the way the company develops its products as well as how it interacts with current and prospective customers.

Crown’s newest reseller Adam McGilvray of Lift’n’Rack in Port Macquarie, NSW, attending Rural Aid’s hay bale drop in Tamworth, NSW.

The company has been bringing innovation to the Australian material handling industry for more than 50 years and is constantly reviewing and refining all of its customer touch points to position itself at the forefront of customer service in the industry. This focus has been driven in parallel with the evolution of its products, which helps provide customers with productivity improvements whilst also ensuring operators receive the latest technology to make their jobs safer and easier.
Managing director Greg Simmonds said Crown’s customer-focused philosophy has always guided its decisions but has become a more crucial element in a world where customers are expecting more.
“At Crown we’ve always had success with building and maintaining strong, productive relationships with businesses, from start-up companies through to global entities,” Mr Simmonds said.
“However, technology is constantly improving and these days there are better ways of holding a mirror up to your own performance when it comes to meeting customers’ needs.
“At our head office in Sydney we have a dedicated team focused on measuring our customer service performance. Our management, as well as the culture throughout the organisation, is focused on acting on what we learn to make us a better fit for our customers.
“Our aim is to be number-one in one specific area: customer service.
“We see this as being just as important as the new technology and commerce platforms we are rolling out to customers, which include e-commerce, semi-automation and other new technology that will have a strong impact on the interaction between humans and increasingly advanced machinery.”
Online and face to face
Crown has adjusted its ratio of online versus face-to-face sales to bring added convenience to customers while providing the right advice where it really counts.
The company entered Australia’s online material handling sales arena in December 2016 with a website dedicated to selling Crown PTH Series hand pallet trucks.
Crown has updated its e-commerce site to include WP Series power pallet trucks and M Series stackers in addition to its hand pallet trucks.

Following a positive reaction from customers and ongoing research into business-to-business buying preferences, Crown is now expanding its e-commerce activities to include other products that are well suited to this streamlined approach.
The company’s increasing use of online sales has enabled its sales force to increase its focus on the areas of material handling that require specialised knowledge and experience to determine best-fit solutions for particular applications.
According to director of sales Craig Kenchington, creating the right balance of online and face-to-face sales is an important part of the company’s customer focus.
“Crown is increasing its online sales presence and the launch of our website selling hand pallet trucks online was an instant hit,” Mr Kenchington said.
“Our practices are backed up by experience as well as industry data showing dramatic changes in business-to-business buyer behaviour, with a large and growing number of customers who prefer to do their own research online for certain products.
“The convenience of being able to buy our robust hand pallet truck, which works well in any environment, straight from our website with competitively priced shipping has proven very attractive to many of our customers.
“They are asking for additional product options so we’ve updated our e-commerce site to include WP Series power pallet trucks and M Series stackers, with more to come.”
However, many customers must deal with warehouse variables including size, shape, ceiling and doorway openings, racking systems, mezzanine levels, power capabilities, fire extinguishing systems and warehouse management systems. Managing these factors requires a trained professional and a company prepared to back its products. Companies that only sell material handling equipment online are at a disadvantage in these situations which can, in turn, put the customer at a disadvantage.
“Finding the right products to perform material handling tasks as efficiently as possible, which fit the physical dimensions of the warehouse and racking system and suit the budgetary requirements of the customer, is a job that requires consultation based on solid expertise,” Mr Kenchington said.
“Now more than ever, the guidance of a genuine material handling professional is essential to meet operational efficiency and compatibility expectations when populating a warehouse with lift trucks and reach trucks.”
Involving a material handling expert in warehouse equipment procurement brings the potential to identify areas of the business that can benefit from existing and upcoming technology, including semi-automation and fleet management. An increasingly important element in running a lift truck fleet is the fitment and compatibility of fleet management systems.
“Crown’s InfoLink fleet management system has become one of the most important factors in the sale of lift trucks to medium and large businesses,” Mr Kenchington said.
“That is because of its potential to reduce impacts – and therefore damage – while providing valuable information on lift truck usage and improve the overall safety culture within a warehouse.
“A material handling professional who visits a site to gain an understanding of a company’s practices is able to make a judgement on how much a company can benefit from its use and make recommendations for its implementation.
“Further to that, these systems initially require fine-tuning onsite to get the full savings and safety benefits they are capable of providing.”
Whilst online sales can add convenience to the purchase of simple products, companies that operate as a ‘one-stop shop’ for material handling needs add another dimension of simplicity for dealing with what can be a complicated task.
“In addition to helping you find the right lift truck for your conditions and setting them up with fleet management systems, Crown personnel are also experts in racking, shelving and accessories and can help develop an empty space into a fully functioning warehouse through dealing with just the one organisation,” Mr Kenchington said.
“We can also train operators with the skills required in a material handling environment, either onsite or through our extensive branch network throughout Australia.
“We believe in the convenience of the products we offer online and our e-commerce activities reflect Crown’s customer-centric approach. It’s an important complement to our sales channels.”
Automatic for customers
Crown’s customer-centric approach is also guiding the roll-out of its semi-automation technology into the Australian lift truck market.
Crown’s proprietary fleet management system InfoLink has become one of the most important factors in the sale of lift trucks to medium and large businesses.

Throughout the Crown global regions, Crown’s technology business development strategy focuses on integrating new technologies into mainstream organisations in a measured fashion. It was created to provide improved operator management, safety and productivity that fully tested semi-automated equipment can offer, while shielding customers from the potential dissolution that can follow the hype and excitement associated with technological advancements.
The strategy has resulted in a semi-automated product suite consisting of Crown’s Auto Positioning System (APS) and Auto Fence operator-assistance for VNA equipment. These will be offered alongside Crown’s award-winning Quick Pick Remote (QPR) order picking technology, which has already proven to provide significant case picking productivity in applications where material flow optimisation is understood.
However, according to Crown Pacific Rim director of technology and business development Chris Ansell, the company’s approach is not about ‘technology for the sake of it’. Instead, Crown will be assessing interested customers’ businesses for the best solutions to their current and future material handling needs.
“Our aim has always been to provide customers with an equitable return on investment from every one of our products, whether it be a hand pallet truck or a turret stock picker,” Mr Ansell said.
“Some companies advertise their automated material handling products as ‘must-haves’ for businesses, without explaining that they are not necessarily the silver bullet they are searching for to provide optimal warehouse efficiency.
“Therefore our approach in discussing automation with our customers will be to first find out where they stand with material flows.
“In many cases we have been able to advise customers on how to extract more performance and efficiency from non-automated lift trucks, instead of taking on the commitment of an automated solution.
“Once we’ve established that automation is the right path to increased productivity for a particular customer, we will work with them to come up with the best solution for their needs.
Currently Crown has designated the MPC 3000 Series and GPC 3000 Series pallet transporters and the TSP Series turret lift trucks for production with integrated semi-automation technology.
People power
While Crown has invested considerably in semi-automated equipment, the company expects humans to remain an important part of material handling well into the future.
“At Crown we’ve always believed that higher levels of productivity can be achieved through attention to design, ergonomics and user interfaces,” Mr Ansell said.
“Automated products currently make up less than two per cent of the global market but we’re expecting that to grow steadily over the next decades and our future offerings will accommodate this trend with thoroughly developed equipment.
“However, none of our projections suggest that humans will be removed from the equation in material handling.”
Number-one in customer service
Crown built its reputation through great customer service and its increased focus on its customer-centric culture is what the company’s management believe will allow it to be seen as number-one.
“At Crown we don’t take any form of interaction with customers for granted,” Mr Simmonds said.
“More than ever, being able to listen to customers properly, find the best solution which makes them the most profit, while supplying and maintaining it as effectively as possible, is crucial for our mutual success.
“Working with Crown is a collaboration which, to us, begins as soon as we answer an enquiry.
“We have always used customer feedback to improve our operations but it’s now a systematic part of our procedures, management and culture. It’s become both a science and an art here at Crown.
“We know that customers are expecting and demanding more. We’ve got the technology, infrastructure, products and experience to deliver this, as well as the passion and drive to serve customers better than the rest.”
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Cleaning up
Crown Equipment has joined forces with Australian industrial cleaning machinery supplier Conquest Equipment Technologies to expand its equipment range.
Crown Equipment has joined forces with Australian industrial cleaning machinery supplier Conquest Equipment Technologies.

The partnership means Crown can now supply heavy-duty cleaning equipment along with racking, shelving and other infrastructure that is part and parcel of a complete warehouse fit-out.
Crown Equipment’s general manager for warehouse solutions Brett Stewart said the partnership with Conquest was born from a combination of customer feedback and the company’s focus on increasing its capability as a ‘one-stop shop’ for warehouse solutions.
“The idea of getting involved with a commercial cleaning equipment supplier came about because Crown sales staff were frequently being asked if we could supply industrial sweepers and other types of cleaning equipment,” Mr Stewart said.
“We looked at a number of industrial cleaning equipment suppliers and we chose to work with a reputable, family-run company with Australia-wide support.
“Conquest is a natural fit for Australia’s number-one electric lift truck company.”
Through Conquest, Crown can now supply Australia’s most advanced range of commercial cleaning products with floor sweepers, floor scrubbers and street sweepers for industrial, retail, corporate, and healthcare applications.
The comprehensive range includes walk-behind and ride-on sweepers and floor scrubbers as well as a range of street sweepers and commercial floor-stripping machines.
Mr Stewart said Conquest shares similar business values with Crown such as focusing on the customer.
“Crown and Conquest are utilising similar synergies – our customers are the same as their customers when it comes to us meeting their needs and finding solutions.”
Mr Stewart says the partnership is a complimentary business model that will position well with Crown and perfectly benefit customers.
“For our customers it means dealing with one salesperson rather than numerous companies for warehousing needs and that has to make things easier.”
Conquest Equipment Technologies’ managing director Michael Mathews said Conquest always finishes with the right solution and believes the Crown alliance is 100 per cent the right way to go.
“We’ve been dealing with Crown for a number of years now and we’re excited to work with a market leader with a good reputation. Like us, customer service and support is always Crown’s number-one priority.”
In global terms, Conquest is a successful Australian business that has been operating for more than 40 years at a national level, competing against big international companies in the broader marketplace.
Crown Equipment’s national sales team members are trained with the knowledge needed to provide expert advice on Conquest equipment in addition to Crown’s lift truck and Warehouse Solutions ranges.
Crown Equipment has joined forces with Australian industrial cleaning machinery supplier Conquest Equipment Technologies.
[PQ if needed:] “The comprehensive range includes walk-behind and ride-on sweepers and floor scrubbers as well as a range of street sweepers and commercial floor-stripping machines.”

Electric hand pallet truck launched

Crown has released the WP 3010 Series, a more compact and economically priced package that is now available Australia-wide through Crown’s national branch network and its online store.
Designed and manufactured by Crown Europe in Roding, Germany, the WP 3010 features an AC drive motor combined with the e GEN regenerative braking system for performance, reliability, long battery life and maintenance-free braking.

The WP 3010 Series’ short (500mm) head length, fork length of up to 1150mm, built-in charger and low weight (279kg without battery) make it nimble and convenient, suitable for back-of-truck work.
Its load capacity of 1600kg, heavy-duty gearbox, robust helical gear set, optimised steel structure and high-tensile steel forks ensure it is rugged.
The WP 3010 Series also features the same cast aluminium Crown X-10 handle with easy-to-use-ergonomic controls used on the rest of the WP Series range.
Crown Equipment director, sales and marketing Craig Kenchington said the WP 3010 Series’ competitive pricing will introduce the Crown product to a whole new market segment.
“Crown has made a power pallet truck with compact dimensions, so it’s ideal for moving and positioning loads quickly and safely in confined storage spaces,” Mr Kenchington said.
“In doing so, it has also compacted the entry price of the Crown WP Series model line-up.
“This new model is perfectly at home doing kerbside deliveries, transport on truck beds as well as retail applications and even manufacturing environments,” he said.


The new-look MHD is here! Innovation + flexibility

Photo: Rao Harohalli, engineering manager, Regional Product Support and Engineering; Michael Croxford, product development manager, Regional Product Support & Engineering; Rodrigo Molina-Bachmann, IC product support specialist (L-R).

Crown Equipment is integrating the needs of customers in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia into its current and future products through the work of its dedicated Asia-Pacific design and engineering team.
The company’s Product Engineering Development and Support Division, located at Crown’s regional head office in Smithfield, New South Wales, Australia, adds value for customers by providing modified lift trucks to suit specific needs.
It also acts as a platform for ongoing change to Crown’s product line by giving recommendations to lead designers, helping make equipment that better meets the needs of customers in the region.
Additionally, the division has provided fully developed designs and has tested information for a number of products currently in production.
Crown Equipment vice president for the Pacific Rim Paul Jackson said Crown’s in-house engineering capabilities are an important part of delivering on the company’s promise of placing the customer at the centre of its business activities.
“Our position at Crown has always been about delivering full material handling solutions,” Mr Jackson said.
“This was born out of a commitment to manufacturing in Australia for the better part of the last 50 years.
“Whilst our product line-up is vast and well known for its durability, we’re always interested in finding ways to make things work better for our customers.”
Hands-on experience
The capabilities of the Asia-Pacific engineering division can be seen in a number of the company’s products and ongoing innovations, which are completing specialised tasks on warehouse floors around the region.
Product engineering development and support manager Michael Croxford said Crown Asia-Pacific gained considerable insight into the fundamentals of forklift production through its experience in manufacturing in Australia in the early 1970s.
“The knowledge we gained from local manufacturing carries through today in our ability to innovate, better serving our customers by making our products more specialised and able to fit with their requirements,” Mr Croxford said.
“We work with our highly experienced sales staff to help find the best solutions to customer needs, and work closely with them to make sure the solutions we create meet their needs while fulfilling regulatory requirements.
“Feedback we receive from customers in the region often results in feature changes to existing Crown designs.”
The Asia-Pacific engineering team has also contributed to the current Crown line-up with designs such as the well-regarded SHR Series heavy-duty walkie reach truck. It has also added to the design of the newly released MPC 3000 Series reach truck through field research and testing.
“The Asia-Pacific engineering team has contributed significantly to Crown’s development of semi-automated material handling products, which include geo-fencing and radio-frequency identification technologies,” Mr Croxford said.
MPC 3000 Series
The Australian-developed MPC 3000 Series lift truck is the direct result of customer engagement and feedback playing a role in Crown equipment design.

Adapted from the Crown GPC 3000 Series order picker developed by Crown’s  European design team, the MPC 3000 Series’ proven effectiveness and popularity with Australia customers has led to a global roll-out.
The MPC 3000 Series’ development was spurred by enquiries for a more effective solution in environments where both stock-pickers and counterbalance forklifts are used for ‘rainbow’ or ‘layer picking’ work, a common task for third-party logistics providers servicing high-volume end users with mixed picking orders.
Crown initially developed four prototypes and passed them to high-profile customers in Sydney for evaluation. During more than 50,000 hours of field-testing, the product’s configuration was refined to combine a high-lift, clear-view mast with an outrigger-free counterbalance design.
The combination created a versatile, multi-purpose stock-picker capable of performing tasks previously requiring an additional counterbalance forklift.
The MPC 3000 Series’ height-adjustable layout has been designed specifically for order picking as well as replenishing low-level pick slots from high-level storage. The omission of outriggers allows closer proximity to machinery, sandwich-stacking four-way pallets and manoeuvring in tight or congested areas.
The result is a machine capable of streamlining equipment fleets, taking on multiple roles and maximising shift productivity.
In addition to increasing efficiency for multi-layer stacking, the reach truck offers an ergonomic advantage. Its adjustable height allows operators to set pallets at their ideal picking height. This minimises stretching and bending, resulting in a reduction in fatigue and injury potential while improving operator productivity.
“The MPC 3000 came about as a direct result of our engagement with our customers and trying to better understand the specifics of their businesses,” Michael Croxford said.
“It is capable of performing multiple warehousing tasks such as order-picking and sandwich-stacking multiple pallets while reducing the amount of equipment required.
“In certain applications it is also able to simplify the put-away process at the receiving facility. Combined with its ergonomic refinement, it brings the reliability, durability and operator safety features expected of Crown equipment.”

The MPC 3000 Series is also compatible with Crown’s exclusive QuickPick Remote (QPR) order picking technology, which enables the operator to remotely advance to the next picking location without having to climb on and off the truck. Testing has revealed that QPR is capable of reducing operator fatigue while boosting order-picking productivity by saving the operator up to five seconds per pick.
Galvanised WP Series
Crown’s WP Series electric pallet jack is a staple of numerous businesses in the Asia-Pacific region due to its time-saving capabilities, safety benefits, strength and dependability.
Clean, hygienic equipment is a mandate of many of Crown’s food manufacturing, medical and primary industry customers, so compliance with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and other bacteria-elimination protocols necessitates regular cleaning with harsh substances.
Customers in these industries cited short lifespans for material handling equipment as a major issue. Operating near corrosive chemicals, in high pH environments and within constant wet or damp working situations, resulted in the working life of the WP Series pallet jack being cut short.
In response, Crown’s Australian engineering division began developing a galvanised version of the WP Series pallet jack. Prototypes featured a protective zinc-treated body with stainless steel roller bearings replacing the standard items. Additional parts were modified to prevent water and chemical ingress to help prevent premature corrosion.
Testing the galvanised WP Series in corrosive work environments with a number of customers has shown almost zero corrosion.
“The galvanised units have proven themselves able to stand up to the harsh conditions. Day-in and day-out, the galvanised WP Series trucks are supporting operations and offering the extended lifespan that customers expect from Crown equipment,” Michael Croxford said.
“The demands of our customers across these regulated industries were foremost as we developed the galvanised WP pallet truck.”
The galvanised WP pallet jack has been adopted globally and is now more versatile and longer-lasting thanks to this customer interaction.
Future forward
At Crown Equipment, as well as the lift truck industry in general, there is currently an increased focus on improving the capabilities of lift trucks through trends such as big data, mobile technology, the ‘Internet of Things’ and robotics.

However, according to Paul Jackson, Crown products incorporating these technologies will not be at the expense of ongoing research and development aimed at delivering better product hardware.
“The technology wave is building here at Crown,” he said.
“We pioneered lift truck fleet management technology and we are further developing our InfoLink system alongside other forward thinking solutions that will provide real value for customers.
“However, without reliable, useful products that can cope with the needs of customers in the environments in which they work, the efficiencies gained by cutting- edge technology are meaningless.
“Our Asia-Pacific engineering division will continue with development projects that offer these types of improvements because customers really are at the centre of everything we do.”
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Cooler running forklifts

Revisions to Crown Equipment’s entry-level internal combustion-engined 2-3 tonne forklift range have improved its performance, appearance and ergonomics.
The new GX Plus Series, which offers diesel and LPG engine choices, comes with a completely redesigned counterweight for improved airflow to maximise cooling capacity. The redesign also modernises its appearance.
The updates have also made it easier for drivers to monitor the functions of GX Plus Series forklifts, with a new instrument panel displaying coolant and transmission oil temperatures, fuel level and operating hours, oil pressure and alternator voltage.
The GX Plus Series retains the 3.3-litre Yanmar ‘Tier 3’ diesel engine that produces 44 kilowatts of power and 181 Newton metres peak torque at a low 1600rpm. The 2.5-litre Mitsubishi LPG engine, which develops 46kW and 181Nm, is also retained.
The improved cooling capacity, combined with a dual-element air cleaner, helps both engines provide reliable performance between service intervals. Both engines combine with a rigid transaxle and single-speed Powershift transmission for low maintenance costs.
The GX Plus Series’ improved instrumentation adds to the sound ergonomics in the comfort and productivity-focused cabin, which features generous legroom, ergonomically-located pedals, low cowl height and overhead guard designed for visibility and an adjustable-reach steering column.
Crown’s director of sales and marketing Craig Kenchington said the GX Plus Series’ revisions, combined with Crown’s renowned Australia-wide service levels and spare part support, help keep it the go-to choice in entry-level forklifts.
“The GX Plus Series offers the level of reliability, performance and operator-focused ergonomics typically available from Crown, but at an entry price that makes it attractive to companies that don’t run their forklifts all day and might otherwise be considering a second-hand unit,” Mr Kenchington said.
“Its improved ergonomics have made it a stronger proposition for both operators and owners whilst its improved cooling performance makes it better suited to working in hot Australian conditions.
“The GX Plus Series’ well-regarded diesel and LPG engine choices, bulletproof drivetrain and task-focused cabin mean it’s a serious proposition that can help make small businesses into bigger ones,” he said.

Crown Equipment focuses on training in new facility

Crown Commercial Training has made significant changes to its training program with a new opportunity offered to design a new corporate training environment.

The new training facility comprises various common material handling environments ranging from yard work to racking aisle work, right up to the challenges involved in working in extremely tight surroundings with very narrow aisle equipment.

According to Crown compliance and operations manager Hywel Williams, “We had our racking arm, Crown Warehouse Solutions, design and install two new stockpicking aisles so that operators undergoing narrow aisle stockpicker training would be working in real-life conditions.”

Crown is currently providing training to 5,000 operators annually, so it is important that their training modules are kept to a high standard. To achieve this, the company has spent the last three years upgrading and refining their training modules and materials.

Their training manuals are designed to be totally portable, so that operators who undergo courses in their own company premises are afforded the same quality training as those who undertake training in Crown’s Sydney facility.

QPH Industries signs Crown as new racking supplier

To cater for increased stock holdings, Victoria-based QPH Industries devised an expansion plan for a new warehouse facility in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine West to house 1,600 selective pallet racking positions.

The importer and distributor of plumbing products, bathroom fittings and kitchen appliances, an existing client of Crown Equipment, was approached by the material handling solution provider to discuss what extra lift trucks they may require at the news facility. Having recently added a racking division to its material handling product set, Crown also discussed the capabilities of its Warehouse Solutions division.

QPH general manager, Tim Wood said the discussions provided a potential opportunity for the company to consolidate the number of major suppliers it used.

Wood said a number of factors came into consideration, including the company’s existing relationship, existing Crown vechiles in the company’s fleet, and the competitive price offered compared to the company’s existing racking supplier.

However it was the financial advantages the lease option provided that drew their interest. “Crown ticked all the right boxes for us in terms of product and price, but their big advantage was their finance package.  It was a one-stop-shop solution, with everything coming from the one company,” Wood said.

Image: Crown Warehouse Solutions product specialist, Katy Leach (left), Crown Lift Trucks territory manager, Brad White, and QPH Industries general manager, Tim Wood.

Australian-made reach truck

Crown Australia has introduced a new, locally designed and built SHR5500 Series Crown Power Steered Walkie Reach Truck. The SHR5500 Series is the latest release in the company’s history of developing and manufacturing equipment in Australia for Australian conditions that spans more than 40 years.

This entirely new series has been designed to work effortlessly where space is limited.

All models in the series have standard electronic power steering and brake override features, allowing the units to manoeuvre in aisles as compact as 2.4m, while the high visibility mast, carriage and redesigned reach mechanism improve load handling and positioning.

The redesigned reach mechanism provides the SHR5500 Series with the ability to perform the tasks of a counterbalanced lift truck while retaining the space saving size of a narrow aisle lift truck, plus the ease of manoeuvrability afforded by new power steering.

“Crown understands productivity comes from an ergonomic design that is reliable and durable, ultimately meeting the unique demands of each circumstance,” said product manager Rod Squires. “We often find counterbalanced trucks used in situations where a stacker is really a better tool. This new Australian-made Series brings total flexibility to these situations.”

As with all Crown vehicles, the SHR5500 Series combines the engineering strength and reliability of Crown products with new technology to give customers and operators a unit that is safe, reliable and easy to use.

To mark the introduction of the SHR5500 Series, Crown is offering obligation-free trials of this new unit. Contact Crown Equipment on (02) 8788 0000.

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