Refurbishment—a Growing Market

In most cases, preserving and using what already exists is the most sustainable choice – and this is precisely the choice STILL makes when it refurbishes forklift trucks. This service lies deep within the company’s DNA and goes right back to its origins as a repair company in northern Germany. Today, refurbishment and extending the lives of vehicles into second and even third lives is more important than ever in light of the increased focus on environmental protection and sustainability. STILL has therefore created several business models for this sustainable growth segment.

Multiple Leasing Lives

In the past, when a manufacturer sold a product and handed over ownership to the customer, the vehicle history would be lost. Even with STILL forklift trucks, it was difficult to trace where a truck had been used over its usually long lifetime. Although contact with most customers was maintained through the service and repair teams, there were still many customers who operated independently. Developments and innovations to improve truck efficiency and generate cost savings for customers have helped STILL to maintain customer interest and, coupled with STILL’s flexible financing models, have ensured customer loyalty is stronger now than ever before. Consequently, STILL now often looks after its trucks over their entire lifetime.

Constant Drive for Efficiency

Cutting costs, using trucks efficiently, and reducing storage costs are all key topics for STILL customers. As early as 1950, STILL began advising customers on how to cut operational costs and the benefits of electric-powered vehicles. STILL was and is an electromobility pioneer and back then the company sold electric lorries for use by major industries in the inner-city regions. Even in the 1950s, it was important to consider the cost of operation and disposal in addition to the vehicle purchase price. Over the years, STILL has therefore continued to develop ways to monitor this overall cost analysis. For instance, STILL customers today have access to digital tools such as STILL neXXt fleet, which provides real-time cost control and transparency for the customer’s fleet of trucks.

Flexible Business Models

Over the last decade, demand for rental and leasing solutions has increased significantly. Both small and large companies are looking to avoid high purchase prices and benefit from increased flexibility and adaptability in their business operations. “These days, companies lease their entire fleets, which is why leasing now accounts for around 60% of STILL’s business,” explains Christof Samson, head of STILL’s refurbishment center in Stuhr near Bremen, Germany. The question is: What are manufacturers to do with all their old vehicles that are far too valuable to simply throw away?

A Second Life

“Breathe new life into them on a grand scale!” says Christof Samson, a man of great conviction who has worked in the industry for 25 years. He knows firsthand the opportunities that used trucks present and can recognize both the potential of these products and the right customers for them – namely cost-sensitive customers that do not necessarily need the very latest technology. He is now able to put together almost any fleet in almost every grade using the extensive stocks of used trucks returned as part of leasing contracts. He can then lease these out or resell them as used fleets. “A really great benefit for me is that we often supervise a used truck for the entirety of its service life,” he says with satisfaction. “These trucks aren’t destined for the scrap heap either; instead many of their components are reused as part of a circular production process. They are a vital resource and a great example of environmental protection in action.”

Specialist Rental Fleet

Used forklift trucks also form part of STILL’s specialist rental fleet, which includes trucks designed for very specific ad hoc applications that do not, therefore, make worthwhile investments for most companies.

Refurbishment as a Service

Malgorzata Ratajczak, Refurbishment Director, and Piotr Piotrowski, Fleet Services Director from the STILL Refurbishment Center in Poznań, Poland, are proud of just how thoroughly the trucks can be refurbished. Unlike in Bremen, the large workshop in Poznań works solely as a service provider for other STILL branches. These branches send used and damaged vehicles to Poznań to be refurbished. “We disassemble the trucks right down to the smallest components and then replace and repair every detail,” explains Piotr. “Afterwards, it is almost impossible to tell these trucks apart from new trucks. This process also gives customers the option of sticking with a familiar model if, for example, they would rather not adapt to new features and technology.”

E-Forklifts: New and Old

Today, many of the refurbished trucks are electric forklifts. Although they are less complex to repair, the batteries must undergo a special refurbishment process. “We have gained a great deal of experience in refurbishing batteries, in terms of their chemical composition, technical features, and visual appearance, and we obtain good results,” explains Malgorzata.

Malgorzata and Piotr both firmly believe that the growing emphasis on sustainability will have a noticeable impact on demand for pre-owned trucks. The facts support this: In both Bremen and Poznań, 1500 vehicles are refurbished every year—3000 sustainable solutions in total.

Setting Standards for Used Trucks

How good is my used truck? STILL has defined three classifications, each with its own requirements: bronze, silver, and gold. These classifications offer customers a dependable foundation when making decisions and assessing warranty claims. According to Piotrowski, the most frequently requested classification is silver. This represents a truck in very good used condition and assures a high-quality technical refurbishment.