Goldhofer’s focus at inter airport this year was on the twin issues of e-mobility and digitalisation. They were examined in some depth, along with other strategies and the latest product developments at Goldhofer in a series of presentations and demonstrations provided by key members of the company’s senior management team
Lothar Holder, the member of the board responsible for the Airport Technology division of the company, began the briefing with a presentation considering the main drivers in the GSE market today, and how Goldhofer is meeting evolving customer needs. He stresses that the company is not reacting to change, but is instead “always ahead of the market” in its assessment of what tomorrow will bring.
Calling them ‘mega trends’, Holder points to such factors as digitalisation, the possibilities opened up by the Internet of Things (IoT) and the ‘blue sky’ policies and thinking in which Goldhofer is keen to engage.
These external influences have had a fundamental impact on Goldhofer’s product portfolio, he notes. Its Sherpa, Bison and Phoenix baggage tugs and towbarless tractors are all relatively new products that now make up a modular family of products that can meet the entire range of on-airport towing requirements, Holder states. They each offer not only optimal performance, but also the best possible total cost of ownership (TCO).
“We now have the most modern product portfolio in this market,” he says. And the company’s latest product and system developments are making it even easier for customers to transfer to emission-free, electric variants of each of these vehicle models.
For example, on the Goldhofer stand at inter airport for the first time was its Phoenix E towbarless tractor (‘E’ for electric). And on the subject of operators moving over to electric GSE, Holder opines: “It’s not a matter of ‘if’; it’s a matter of ‘when’ and ‘how fast’.” Of course, the switch is not going to happen overnight, and there will be plenty of demand for conventional diesel tugs of some time to come.
Away from the product line, Goldhofer is also continuing to implement its corporate strategy of establishing regional hubs. The company created a North American corporate footprint with the establishment of Goldhofer Inc in the US and its purchase of a majority shareholding in its longstanding sales and service partner Flite Line in 2017, and late last year it did the same in the Middle East with the creation of a sales and services office in Dubai. It also opened up a parts distribution warehouse in the emirate in partnership with a local company.
Then, just after inter airport had closed its doors for this year, Goldhofer confirmed that it had signed a joint venture agreement with Francis Klein Machine Tools (FKMT) Technologies for the production of ground handling equipment for customers in India.
“The subject of the agreement is the production and sales of the Goldhofer range of cargo and aircraft tow tractors for the Indian market and the establishment of a service hub and training centre there”, a press release confirmed. According to the plan, the first phase of the operation in Bangalore will involve the manufacture of conventional Bison aircraft tow tractors and Sherpa baggage and cargo tow tractors.
A further hub is planned for the Asia Pacific region, through a partnership with a local player in Singapore for after-sales service, parts distribution and the like. A formal agreement on this is expected in the near future, Holder says.
Goldhofer is also reinforcing the resources it allocates to key account management, Holder confirms, while ensuring that its brand and marketing promotes a clear and consistent message of the company and its products.
Christof Peer was appointed Goldhofer’s sales director airport technology on 1 July this year. Continuing from where Holder left off, he explains that Goldhofer is “investing in products and investing in our customers”. He goes on: “We want to make their operations as efficient as possible.”
The strategy seems to be bearing fruit, with Peer informing that already more than 200 Phoenix vehicles have been sold, alongside more than 250 Sherpas. These relatively new models are a “continuing success story,” he enthuses, and are “doing even better than expected”.
But there is much more to come. On the Goldhofer stand at inter airport was what it called a ‘Future Zone’, where it could demonstrate to journalists, customers and potential customers alike what it will be able to offer in the future as a result of the latest digital technologies.
Through-life customer service will be supported by the latest telematics and associated analytic technology, while comparative analysis can also be used to inform customers of the potential benefits (for some at least) of switching to electric tugs.