Navy Orders Specialized Forklifts from Illinois Firm

Military Forklifts

A forklift is used to move ordinance in the bay of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier (Photo courtesy of the US Navy and in the public domain)

The US Navy has placed an order for specialized forklifts that are customized to sustain the type of high-impact shock waves they could encounter in combat situations.

The contract with Manitex International Inc. — a provider of cranes and other specialized material and container handling equipment based in Bridgeview, Illinois — is worth between $30 million and $45 million over the next five years, according to a company news release. The vehicles will be provided through the company’s Liftking subsidiary and the first deliveries are expected late in 2015 or early 2016.

Not Your Typical Forklifts

These forklifts aren’t like the typical vehicles found in the average warehouse. They are rought-terrain, straight-mast forklifts that need to be air transportable, able to ford various depths of water, and capable of absorbing simulated shock waves measuring up to 50 times the force of gravity.

They will come in two versions — one with a 10,000 pound lifting capacity and a second with a 20,000 pound lifting capacity.

“This lift truck will require some engineering and custom configurations, and a thorough performance testing protocol, including EMI (Electro-magnetic interference) and Hi-Shock testing,” the news release stated.

Company Has Other DoD Contracts

It is not the first military contract for Manitex. In fact, including this order the company has contracts with the Navy over the next fire years valued at between $75 million and $125 million.

Mark Aldovandi, director of sales for Manitex’s Liftking division, said the company’s relationship with the Department of Defense was a source of pride.

“We are proud to be a supplier of choice to the US Navy for material handling equipment, and look forward to delivering the rugged and durable lift trucks they count on to handle their critically important logistical support and transport activities.”

Lives Could Depend on These Vehicles

Because lives may depend on the durability and dependability of these vehicles, Manitex needs to make absolutely sure they are of the highest quality, said Jeff Cockerton, general manager of Liftking.

“We are very excited to get this order from the US Navy, which is among the world’s leading military organizations, and maintains very stringent and demanding product specifications to support their operations in the field,” Cockerton said. “With this third contract award we have a very solid level of military business for our Canadian facility that will provide a foundational platform for our growth over the next five years.

“Our business with this important customer continues to grow and we always look forward tot he opportunity to contribute to the safety, security and success of our country’s and our allies’ servicemen, here and abroad,” he said.

The forklifts will be built at Liftking’s 85,000 square foot facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada.

Typically, forklifts and other materials handling equipment would not be used in direct combat situations, but they would be used to move materials and equipment on Navy ships that could potentially be in the line of enemy fire.

Military forklifts also are in support of combat troops and could be subject to shelling or bombing by enemy combatants, so they still need to be tough and battle-tested.


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