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German Armed Forces place their trust in Linde rental forklift trucks

Top Performance Down Under
Linde MH forklift trucks in action with the German Air Force in Australia

Around 250 soldiers, over 200 tons of material loaded in more than 50 sea containers, and – right at the center of it all – Linde Material Handling rental forklift trucks in action on the other side of the world. In summer 2022, the Aschaffenburg-based goods flow specialist, together with its local network partner Forklift Solutions, supported the German Air Force in a multi-week exercise in the Australian Northern Territory.

This unusual deployment is thanks in part to a broken down motorcycle. The owners of the bike were Edgar Junkhoff and Silke Fißer, two German backpackers on tour through Australia – until, that is, their plans were scuppered by their defective two-wheeler. However, you could say it was a stroke of luck. When Junkhoff, an agricultural machinery mechanic with a master craftsman’s certificate, managed to find the necessary spare parts in a local workshop, he was promptly offered a job. “At that time, in the early noughties, we had no intention of leaving Germany permanently.

But life can be full of surprises,” he explains with a smile. A good two decades later, the red continent has long since become the permanent home of the two emigrants. In the meantime, the couple have also taken a new direction professionally. They have gone from two wheels to four and now work for an Australian network partner of Linde Material Handling.

Taking the plane to the service call

We are in the Northern Territory, an area four times the size of Germany. Forklift Solutions is based in Darwin, the capital of the region. Since 2007, together with five employees, Edgar Junkhoff and Silke Fißer have been responsible for the sales, hire, and service of Linde industrial trucks. This is not an easy job given the vastness of the Australian outback, where it is not uncommon to travel by plane to carry out a repair job. “When I receive an assignment like this, I grab my emergency suitcase and we fly sometimes four and a half hours one way to a customer to fix the problem,” says Junkhoff. Life is still full of surprises here. This was certainly the case in the summer of 2022 when an unusual request arrived that would reconnect the two Australians-by-choice with their old home country of Germany.

The German armed forces are on their way, the forklift trucks are already here

Pitch Black and Kakadu – these evocative names not only refer to a Hollywood movie and a family of birds, but also to military maneuvers in the Indo-Pacific region. In 2022, the German Air Force took part in these maneuvers for the first time. This involved around 250 soldiers and more than 200 tons of equipment – including six Eurofighter jets – in over 50 sea freight containers. In fact, this was the largest deployment exercise in the history of the German Air Force. “This is the furthest we’ve ever been,” explains Lieutenant Colonel Matthias Boehnke, Press Officer and Head of the Australian media team. And yet, “We couldn’t take everything with us to Australia,” he adds. So the following had to be hired locally: Storage buildings, mobile stairs and – of course – Forklift Truck for the transport processes. This is exactly where the emigrants Junkhoff and Fißer came into it...

Linde forklift truck supports transport processes on the ground

We spoke the same language – in more ways than one

For the fleet manager of the German maneuver delegation, Sergeant Major Joey B., the cooperation with Forklift Solutions was a real stroke of luck – having a German-speaking business contact 15,000 kilometers away from Germany was a real bonus: “I was delighted that the collaboration worked so well from the outset, not least because there was no language barrier,” he explains. The German armed forces rented a total of seven Linde forklift trucks with a load capacity of 8, 12, and 16 tons from the Linde network partner in Darwin. Those responsible were not only impressed by the robustness of the trucks, which delivered an impressive performance despite the extreme heat and over 90 percent humidity...

Exemplary service and brand

“The accompanying service was also outstanding and went far beyond what we expected,” says a satisfied Lieutenant Colonel Matthias Boehnke. This was demonstrated at the start of the maneuver. After a problem with a forklift truck, explains Boehnke’s colleague Joey B., they called Forklift Solutions on a Sunday on the off chance. “I really wasn’t hopeful that we would reach anyone. However, much to our surprise, Mr. Junkhoff actually answered the phone and was there half an hour later. I really didn’t expect that.”

Especially as the 33-year-old knows from past experience during numerous exercises around the world that things can be quite different. “In the past, we’ve had to wait days for a forklift truck to be repaired. This always has knock on effects as work processes have to be adjusted at great expense,” continues the Sergeant Major. All the more reason to be pleased that things went so smoothly with Pitch Black and Kakadu thanks to Forklift Solutions.

We are incredibly proud that we were able to support the German command with our rental forklift trucks and our service. As a service provider, it goes without saying that we are available seven days a week if necessary.

Edgar Junkhoff of Forklift Solutions, Australia