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For 2020, Crown has some exciting products to launch to market, starting with its ESR 1000 Series reach truck with a lift height of up to 13,560 mm

Crown Equipment celebrates 75 years of innovation

Crown Equipment is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. With the help of some of the company’s senior executives from the Asia Pacific region, we look back on the forklift provider’s past and its goals for the future.

Over the past 75 years Crown Equipment has earned a reputation as a leading innovator in world-class forklift and materials handling equipment. Crown’s history began when two brothers, Carl H Dicke and Allen A Dicke, founded the company in New Bremen, Ohio, in the US.

Today, the fourth generation of the Dicke family continues to lead the business. In 1960, the organisation began to produce a line of high-quality lift trucks and soon became the fastest-growing materials handling company in the US.

Crown Equipment was established in New Zealand in 1981, and has since developed a reputation as a leading provider of materials handling equipment throughout the Asia Pacific region. 

Kieran White, managing director of Crown Equipment New Zealand

Kieran White, managing director of Crown Equipment New Zealand, has been with the organisation since 2016 and says he loves working for Crown because it is a family-owned business with a strong focus on innovation.

Shane Crook, general manager of sales, echoes this sentiment: “I have worked with Crown for over 13 years, and from the very first day I joined a business with a focus on solving our customers’ problems.”

Reshaping the industry

Crown is the largest privately owned forklift truck company in the world and Mr White says the Dicke family are as invested in the business today as they were when they founded it in 1945. 

A further advantage of being privately owned is that Crown has a history of designing and inventing new products that have helped to reshape the materials handling industry. “Being privately owned allows Crown to remain agile, flexible and creative. We can change direction quickly or think outside the box, without the requirement of unengaged shareholders’ approval,” says Mr White.

The Crown Equipment logo has evolved over the years too

For Crown, when it comes to forklifts, it’s all about the experience. With a focus on the operator, Crown’s human-centred designs are created to improve productivity, comfort and safety. 

Crown’s approach to industrial product design builds upon advanced ideas for lift truck operator productivity, safety and product lifespan. This is something that Mr White says will continue to shape the future of Crown Equipment. “Our focus on research and development and developing new and innovative materials handling solutions will continue to go from strength to strength.” 

One area where Mr White says this will be a continued area of growth is in the interest of semi and fully automated materials handling solutions. “This is another new and exciting chapter in the company’s development, and this will be a real growth area over the next five to 10 years,” he says.

Unmatched in the industry 

Crown manufactures up to 85% of its lift truck components so that they can better manage quality and parts availability for their customers. The organisation has factories in both Europe and North America, and is unique in that its full range of products are manufactured to service global market requirements. 

“In our region, customers use both European and North American style lift trucks, with the availability of our global range. Our sales teams can satisfy customers’ needs with the one brand of truck,” Mr White says. “This is a key point of difference for us as many other providers in this field are focused on building products to a price point, and using multiple product sources from different factory origins, to pull together a complete product solution.”

Shane Crook, general manager of sales at Crown Equipment New Zealand

However, with Crown that is not the case, ultimately ensuring that customers have a very reliable product. “We are unmatched in the industry. As I have told our customers, you will not know you have bought the right lift truck until it breaks down. It is only then that the importance of service staff and parts availability will be properly understood and appreciated,” Mr White says. 

Another point of difference is the level of engineering that goes into a Crown truck. “Compared with some other brands, there’s more steel in a Crown lift truck as we are committed to building things to last. We don’t build lift trucks with the notion of them needing to be replaced in three, four or five-year intervals,” Mr White says. 

He notes that some of our biggest companies, operating in the hardest applications, will use a Crown reach truck or pallet truck for 25,000 hours.

Looking to the future 

With innovation being a key factor in the company’s past 75 years, Crown will continue to set the pace for the next 75 years.
“I hope to still be around in 2045, to help the company celebrate 100 years. I’m sure I will be amazed by the products we will be building and supplying 25 years from now if the progress made since Crown’s first day in New Zealand back in 1981 is any indication of how things will change over time,” comments Mr White.

For 2020, Crown has some exciting products to launch to market, starting with its ESR 1000 Series reach truck line and its new touchscreen display system for InfoLink. The new ESR 1000 Series will be the first lift trucks to use Crown Equipment’s new Gena® operating system. They are available with lift heights of up to 13,560 mm, load capacities of up to two tonnes, and feature a system that allows customers to choose between lead acid or lithium-ion as their motive power solution. 

The Gena operating system is intuitive, customisable and interactive, and features a 7 inch colour touchscreen in one of 25 selectable languages. It operates seamlessly with the InfoLink fleet management system to provide reliable management data and a broad range of interactive graphical checklists, together with safety instructions. 

In the early 1950s Crown manufactured the Bumper-Upper car jack, one of their many innovative materials handling solutions over the years

For David Sultana, director of marketing for Crown in Asia Pacific, the ESR 1000 is more than a reach truck, it’s a real warehouse materials handling solutions partner in terms of operating speed, performance, efficiency and communications, offering businesses incredible opportunities for productivity gains. 

“Innovative materials handling equipment is nothing new to Crown. Our company has received more than 100 prominent design awards over the years. The new ESR 1000 Series with its Gena operating system redefines the way lift truck operators can interact with their reach truck. It sets a new benchmark in the industry,” Mr Sultana says. 

“It’s a great example of Crown’s preferred approach to optimising real productivity and performance, which is designed to help make materials handling for our customers’ operations easier, safer and more cost-effective,” he says. 

The new InfoLink 7 inch touch display module is a larger, more robust display module option for its forklifts equipped with Crown’s InfoLink fleet and operator management system. It enhances the operator experience with greater functionality and an interface designed to simplify onboarding, maximise productivity and reinforce safety, while also creating a more informative and personalised experience for operators. 

“We believe deployment of any technology must immediately disprove the misperception that it is more complex than the prior solution. This is why our design-thinking approach includes studying how operators interact with our forklifts to better understand work context, physiological needs and cognitive requirements,” says Kim Stachler, Crown Equipment Corporation marketing connected product manager.

The information presented on the adjustable colour LCD display creates a more informative and personalised experience for operators. It features intuitive and easy-to-read menus and configurable widgets that enable operators to customise their screen and receive context-sensitive alerts to increase engagement with the forklift. 

“I think the next 75 years of Crown Equipment will be similar to the last 75 years, with ongoing innovation and development,” concludes Kieran White. “There is no doubt in my mind that we will continue to influence how customers manage, store and pick products over the next 75 years.”


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