Global giant Geesink Norba unveils new RCV

CIWM Torbay exhibitor Geesink Norba lays claim to produce the widest range of RCVs for the UK and European markets. At this year's event the UK arm of the global group, based in Llantrisant, is launching the new Geesink RCV which is designed to offer customers modern styling with improved operational performance. In this special feature, LAWE Editor Alexander Catto discusses key questions on Geesink Norba's strategy, markets and product lines with Kevin Else, who was appointed as Managing Director of Geesink Norba Ltd, the UK operation, earlier this year. He was formerly Sales Director of the company. LAWE's questions appear in bold type with answers in plain type.

The Geesink Norba Group forms part of the refuse collection division of the Oshkosh Truck Corporation, making the division the largest manufacturer of refuse collection vehicles in the world.

Oshkosh Truck has an annual turnover of around US$2 billion. Its operations focus on the manufacture of specialist commercial vehicles and a large range of bodywork suitable for fitting to commercial vehicles. The key business areas are military, refuse collection, fire and emergency and concrete placement.

The company has the largest range of refuse collection bodywork available, from 5 to 32m3, available to suit chassis from 7,500 to 32,000kg GVW, with the ability to provide bodywork to suit customers' requirements from the Geesink, Norba and McNeilus product ranges, plus Kiggen compactors.

The group also has an extensive range of bin lifts, which will accommodate all the latest bins and containers.

In your new role as Managing Director are there specific goals you are setting for the UK operation, either in terms of market share and sales or in improving service to customers?

The Geesink Norba Group has clearly defined goals for its European activities: these are communicated and discussed well in advance of the financial year so budgets and resources can be set to meet the goals in the individual countries. Whilst this sounds quite rigid, it is not, it gives clear business disciplines we all follow and then it allows us to build our own strategy to suit local conditions In the UK we will be looking for opportunities to gain market share in all areas of our business. and will carry on investing in and developing our customer services.

How is Geesink Norba, which in recent years has seen more than one change of ownership, finding a role within the US-based and global Oshkosh Truck Corporation?

Acquisition has been a key growth strategy for Oshkosh Truck Corporation, they are well versed in integrating businesses and this has become obvious to us over the last couple of years, they have introduced their proven management strategies and added it to Geesink Norba's known capabilities. The benefits are now starting to surface in new products coming to the market, improved operational efficiencies at the factories, and a strong financial performance despite the European RCV market being low at the moment

What strengths does the group add?

You only need to look at the company's performance over the last five years to understand the strength it gives to us, but outside of the strong financial performance, the real customer interest is in the constant introduction of new and innovative products in all areas of the business, which is a key strategy for the group, Geesink Norba now has a long term future and that's good for our customers and our employees.

How important do you feel is maintaining the individual brand images within the overall group?

Geesink, Norba McNeilus and Kiggen are all strong brand names with good product recognition. The products do have differences in there operation, and whilst that is the case it is important to keep the individual product identity.

Geesink Norba promotes the concept that it specialises in one-stop solutions for a wide range of waste management. Could you outline the particular sectors served by what must be the widest ranges of RCVs and related equipment available in the UK, if not across Europe?

I believe we have the largest range of RCV products in the world when you include the McNeilus operation, as well as bodywork we have a large range of binlifts to handle all types of containers. Our product range has been developed to suit all sectors of the global market, and if we see niches in the market where we can not always compete, we develop strategies to do so. We have recently launched a new product called Value Pak which will enable us to be more competitive in certain Global RCV markets.

The three elements within the RCV product line, Geesink , Norba and McNeilus offer complementary solutions to waste managers. Where does the Kiggen range slot in?

In the UK most compactors are sold in to a different customer base to the RCV's, so we have a separate sales organisation for these units. They have increased sales year on year, since the product was introduced. The Kiggen product sits at the top of the market in terms of quality and innovation, the latest units are made from top quality high tensile steel, and have Smartpack electric systems which offer facilities through GPS to monitor when the units are part full or full, so collections can be programmed by the waste contractor. The RCV range of mobile compaction equipment , and the Kiggen range do complement each other and can be serviced in the field by the same teams.

The group has introduced new products in recent years. What are the features of the latest Geesink RCV on show at the CIWM Exhibition this year?

This year we will focus on the introduction of the New Geesink GPM 3. This product offers a number of technical improvements, the most obvious will be the modern smooth sided styling. Other key features are improved sealing of the rear door which will reduce leakage from the tailgate, improved operational speed and the introduction of the Smartpack Hydraulic system. By sensing the pressure required in the hydraulic system the pump will only deliver what is required, therefore saving energy which will result in fuel savings. We will also be introducing a new Kiggen portable compactor the PD 700, a 10m3 smooth sided "blade" compaction unit with easy loading features, it will also feature Smartpack technology .

Geesink Norba's impressive list of recent sales reported on your web site indicates not only what comes over as a very healthy order book, but also how the company supplies three main markets in the UK - the traditional local authority sector, the dynamic waste management private contractor market and the growing hire and leasing area. What's your view on the future potential of these key areas ? Do they demand different products in terms of front or rear loaders, sideloaders or splitlifters?

We enjoy business in all these areas, and they are all important to the future of our business, we have seen no great differential in the products they purchase, in terms of specification. Perhaps the biggest difference would be in there needs from our parts and service organisation. We have ongoing discussions in all sectors with regard to our new product development programmes, and our understanding of there future requirements.

The local authority sector has traditionally been a strong area for us, and this continues today.

The waste management private contractor market has obviously changed in terms of consolidation; the unit volume is around the same but with fewer order points. It is an area of our business that has grown dramatically over the last two years. Contract hire of specialist municipal equipment is a viable option for both the local authority and private sector, therefore we will see further growth in the future.

The specialist contract hire companies operating in this market have taken time to understand the operational requirements of customers, the maintenance needs of the equipment, which was not always the case, and have come up with innovative solutions to meet customers' needs.

Contract hire and spot rental companies are as demanding as any customer with there requirements for service response times from us, but it is not just about fixing the fault, they need to know what went wrong. Why ? is it accident damage, how long was the vehicle of the road, costs etc. Not only do they need this information they need it quickly,

To help with this we have given our service engineers Palm Tops, and introduced an electronic management system. When a call is received it automatically goes on the system and remains live until the customer signs off satisfied. Having all the information electronically means we can keep people updated on how the job is progressing, and quickly provide service sheets, invoices etc. It also gives us a detailed history of all work carried out on a customer's vehicle which is useful for us and them.

Recycling is fast emerging as a major influence, not only on investment in vehicles and equipment, spurred by specific funding from DEFRA, but also on the specification, design and type of RCV, bin lifter or recycling body needed to cope with such factors as kerbside collection and segregated waste. How is Geesink Norba anticipating, and responding to, these trends?

The Group already offers twin compartment vertically split RCVs and twin compartment horizontal split RCVs. We offer non-compacting toploading boxes to place between cab and RCV body, and all these systems are in wide use right across Europe.

We also have our GCTS system which uses demountable bodywork and can lend itself to the collection of separate recycling fractions, There are also a number of options we can bring over from the McNeilus range of product.

A lot of authorities are buying standard refuse vehicles for there recycling projects and achieving good results. Simple modifications can change packing pressures at the touch of a button to suit various types of collection. We have also seen the rise in the number of non-compacting, multi-compartment vehicles for kerbside schemes in the UK. We have chosen not to offer this type of product at this time. There is not much demand for this type of product from our other markets, and we are convinced that as the recycling schemes mature and people know the quantity and weights of the various commodities they are collecting on a weekly basis, they will become more focused on the efficiencies of their collection methods. It could be further development of the non-compacting, multi-compartment concept might be the answer, or perhaps multi-compartment compaction vehicles. Our knowledge of small compaction units at Kiggen would prove useful then. There are so many views just in the UK on future needs for recycling systems that the picture can become clouded, now that we are starting to see good factual information we can start to focus our efforts in this important area of our business.

How do you view the overall RCV market, given there seems to be a notable upturn at present? One cloud in the background which is exercising the economists is a reported shortage in particular raw materials needed in engineering manufacture, such as steel. Is that a real problem for manufacturers or is it a manifestation of an "urban myth"?

We have seen a strong RCV market in the UK over the last couple of years. This has been influenced by the growth of the spot rental market, DEFRA funding for recycling projects and a number of large local authority contracts being awarded. It is difficult to believe that that the market will continue at this level. There is a shortage of raw materials at this time, it is no urban myth. The Group have secured supplies and we have no current problems in meeting our current and future deliveries. We have seen steel prices rise due to the shortages, and we will be increasing our prices of equipment to reflect this.

Environmental factors are playing an increasingly influential role in the operation of municipal vehicles, particularly RCVs. While engine noise and emissions are largely the responsibility of chassis manufacturers, where does Geesink Norba see its role, particularly in relation to noise generated by waste handling and compaction equipment and in potential atmospheric pollution from dust and odour? Looking over the horizon, perhaps, do you see potential in the UK market for hybrid-electric vehicles such as those the group has supplied to Renova, Gothenburg?

The whole group believes we have a part to play in the development of products to overcome the environmental issues you talk about. Geesink Norba will be showing its first prototype RCV addressing some of these issues at the Pollutec show in December. It will feature whisper technology in much of its design, the fuel efficient Smartpack hydraulics, and many other environmental benefits. Longer term I can see no reason why hybrid electric vehicles should not find a place in RCV fleets in the UK. The units supplied to Renova and Gothenburg have proved themselves in operation.



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