July/August 2018 digital edition

Anybody out there who thinks that members of the British Royal Family don’t earn their crust, think again: they do. The next time you see Prince Charles wandering around a chocolate factory in a hair net or pointing at a piece of complicated farming equipment he knows nothing about, rest assured that he’s earning his keep.

Like the ‘Royals’, business journalists like myself are acclimatised to ‘factory visits’, and I would like to think I am more familiar than most, having been on many tours around countless manufacturing facilities. I’ve worn numerous hard hats, plenty of high-viz jackets and, when the occasion has demanded it, a hair net too, not forgetting earplugs, steel toe-capped boots and sometimes even fire-resistant clothing. I have to say that whenever I find myself wandering around a factory floor, I start to imagine myself as a member of the Royal Family. “What does this button do?” is a question always on the tip of my tongue, although I daren’t risk a Prince Charles impression.

These days, bar the occasional tour of a steel mill, usually courtesy of AISTech in the USA, there are very few factory tours on offer, which is a shame. You can imagine, therefore, my delight when I was invited to visit Combilift’s new factory in Monaghan, Ireland. I missed the official opening ceremony back in May, but I was kindly invited to take part in a more intimate trip, along with two journalists from Germany. It was an offer too good to refuse and before I could say ‘all-wheel drive, multi-directional forklifts’ I found myself on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin followed by a short drive to the plant.

In these sorry days of so-called ‘Brexit Britain’ and Donald Trump with his trade wars and alternative facts, it’s pleasant to witness something positive in the shape of a good, old-fashioned success story. Combilift is just that as you will discover when you read my six-page report on the trip in this digital edition of Steel Times International.

It’s great to witness positivity and enthusiasm first hand, and Combilift’s Martin McVicar didn’t disappoint, although, if I’m honest, the real reason I loved the new factory so much was the excellent cottage pie, vegetables and gravy, followed by apple pie and custard, that I enjoyed in the staff canteen prior to the tour. Who wouldn’t be ready to take on the world after such a good meal?

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July/August 2018 digital edition highlights

2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge

4 News and Facts

6 Stainless and special steels – Two-in-one solar panels

8 Cover story: Transport and handling – Combilift opens state-of-the-art global headquarters

14 Precise material verification by Hitachi

19 EonCoat – Excelling in today's challenging global steel marketplace

22 Innovations – the latest contract and product news