Watching on television, we tend to only see war at its most visceral: bombs, rockets and explosions. In fact, this is really just the last stage in a long process of planning and organisation. First, supplies need to be sent to the front lines and troops need to dig in. Robust logistical support is far from easy, of course. But with the right equipment, even the most embattled soldiers can be sure they're ready for whatever the enemy throws at them.
Frank van Dongen has worked in the defence industry for over 20 years. Since 2016, he has been the sales and marketing director at Hiab GBO, a specialist in military load-handling solutions. You can understand why Van Dongen was keen to work at the UK-based company by looking at its history - for more than 30 years, it has supplied some of the best armies worldwide.
"We started at the end of the 1980s, with two major deliveries," Van Dongen says. "One was for the British Army. They were looking for a new logistical solution to provide the ammunition to the artillery. The second project was for the US Army. They wanted a system that could provide logistical support worldwide on vehicles that could be deployed by aircraft. Both countries used our MULTILIFT hooklift solutions."
The British and the US would soon put the company's products into battle conditions. As Van Dongen explains, its MULTILIFT hooklifts were instrumental in the sweeping coalition victory over Iraq in Operation Desert Storm. "MULTILIFT hooklifts ensured that ammunition, water, fuel and food were transported to the front lines in a very short time." From there, vehicles with MULTILIFT hooklifts have been deployed wherever Western forces have done battle, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Mali. "It's the backbone for the logistics of all NATO armies."
Perhaps this popularity has something to do with the range of products that Hiab GBO designs. Apart from its MULTILIFT hooklifts, HIAB loader cranes, MOFFETT rough-terrain forklift trucks and ZEPRO taillifts are also respected. Whatever the logistic vehicle requirement, Hiab GBO works hard to ensure they fit the exacting standards of modern militaries. As an example, Van Dongen highlights how Hiab GBO products can cope with extreme temperatures, saying, "The climate standard within the military is different: -32°C to 49°C, and with some modifications, our products can even work at -46°C."
Hiab GBO is capable of supplying its products worldwide, to any applicable specified standard. The organisation is both ISO9001:2015 and ISO14001:2015- accredited, guaranteeing a procedural approach to meeting customer order requirements and sustainability.
Hiab GBO is organised to support its products in many parts of the world throughout their complete service life. From the early stages of design whole life costs are considered, this ensures that the customer can expect a truly lifelong, costeffective solution.
For his part, Van Dongen is also keen to praise his own staff. "Hiab GBO is a small team of people, but all of them have a long employment history with the company, and a lot of experience working in logistics for the military in sales, engineering, operations and support." To date, Hiab GBO has supplied over 41,000 load-handling solutions for various military applications.