One of the leading manufacturers of refuse collection vehicles, Geesinknorba has a proud and hugely successful history of providing innovative products to markets all over Europe.
The company is continuing to grow and is at a very exciting time in its history, developing a fully electric vehicle unlike any other in operation.
Mick Hill is Geesinknorba’s UK Business Director. He spoke to Transport Britain about the company’s plans and how they showcase their wide range of products in the unique UK market.
This is an excerpt of the full interview, which will be in the next issue of Transport Britain.
Please give us some background about the business? How did you identify the need for products you provide?
Geesinknorba has been providing waste management solutions across Europe and beyond for a very long time under a variety of brands.
The Norba name came from Sweden and Geesink from the Netherlands where our group headquarters are today. Our UK base is in Llantrisant.
The company’s name essentially means innovation, and it’s at the heart of everything we do when developing products. We are constantly in touch with our different markets, monitoring how they are developing, and speaking to our customers – and potential customers – to understand fully what is required both now and in the future.
Armed with all this market intelligence, we go to our product council to discuss how we can move our ideas forward. Products and technologies are then designed and tested, and this process goes on continuously with customers piloting new products so we can fine-tune them.
Regarding electric vehicles, how did these come about and are they popular with local authorities?
We were already successfully running our hybrid technology, when we started to look at the demands of the market – especially in urban areas where there is a growing awareness of the problems associated with air pollution and other environmental issues.
This is rapidly leading to the establishment of low and zero emission zones – partly because councils realise they need them and partly because they realise that with fully electric vehicles, they can really achieve their goals.
It led us to work with a company close to our main facility in the Netherlands, which was producing a fully electric chassis – and this relationship has allowed us to build a vehicle.
Already, this vehicle has been introduced in Spain and we are bringing it into the UK too because there is an awful lot of interest in this product.
How has your product range developed?
We currently have more than 1,000 products in the UK market, with local authority and private sector customers.
Our customer base goes from one end of the country to the other, from mini-vehicles in Jersey to big refuse collection vehicles in Aberdeen – all over the UK and into Ireland too.
Vehicles have become more specialised over the years, from multi-chambered vehicles for simultaneously collecting different recycling streams to narrowtrack vehicle for nimbler operations in tight urban streets.
Efficiency has improved massively so operating costs are kept down, safety has also been a major pre-occupation of ours in recent years. And now the environmental issues are forcing changes to products at a very rapid rate – but we well were ahead of the curve in these matters.
What is different about the fully electric vehicle?
The entire vehicle will run off lithium-ion batteries mounted on the chassis and it will provide our clients with huge savings – both environmental and cost.
The vehicle will produce zero emissions, maintenance will be cheaper because there is no engine or gearbox, you won’t have to change filter or oil, so you’re cutting down on resource usage. It is also a lot quieter than other refuse trucks, so it could potentially be operated later at night and earlier in the morning without causing a disturbance.
That, in turn, means fleet sizes could be reduced, requiring less capital outlay from cash-strapped local authorities. The benefits go on. It really does tick all boxes.
What are the future plans to ensure the company continues to progress?
There are several new contracts that we are focusing on – there always are – but most of our time at the moment is spent on the fully electric vehicle, which really is a game changer. It is something I am personally very interest in because of the technology and innovation it requires.
We firmly believe the way we are implementing it is the best way and I want to see this get through to our clients and make a massive impact – not only in the industry but to people’s lives.
The signs are positive because we have already seen an awful lot of interest in these vehicles, from all over the UK.