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Case story

Hillier’s smart shift to automation transforms funeral transport

Hillier by Design, Australia’s leading transfer van supplier to the funeral industry, turned to automation and successfully partnered with LINAK to strengthen their competitive position in the market by increasing casket capacity per transfer vehicle.

Hillier engineers automation with LINAK actuators for funeral transfer vans

Hillier by Design was founded in 1984 by Gavin Hillier, who had ample experience running a reputable smash repair and custom car business. He decided to transition into coachbuilding, and together with his sons, Troy and Clayton, they have converted and modified over 500 hearse and transfer vehicles for the funeral industry.

Remaining faithful to their company motto: ‘Dedicated to quality, we strive to provide the latest innovations because if we don’t, someone else will’, Hillier continued their pursuit for excellence by improving their vehicle designs to remain competitive and propelled into lucrative new ventures.


Transforming design helps win new business

Before working with LINAK®, Hillier relied on a hydraulic system to lift and move the caskets. However, they found hydraulics expensive to install and service due to the use of special-built hydraulic cylinders, which required specialist personnel and equipment.

In addition, the hydraulics solution added significant weight to their vehicles and put a relatively heavy load on the vehicle’s battery. Furthermore, problems with hydraulic oil leaking, noise factors, and lack of aesthetics were unappealing for top funeral companies.


Hillier decided to overhaul their design to solve these issues by changing to an automated electric deck lifting system, and at the same time they increased the casket capacity per transfer vehicle to improve their customer’s operational efficiency. To achieve this, they turned to LINAK, who provided a robust, reliable, and long-lasting solution using the LA36 actuator.

Because transfer vehicles travel tens of thousands of kilometres across a wide range of road surfaces during their operating lifetime, the deck lifting solution must be trouble-free and long-lasting.
Clayton Hillier

The LA36 IC parallel proved to be ideal for the redesign, as the integrated controller (IC™) enabled parallel control of the four actuators, ensuring operation with synchronised positions, in addition to featuring overcurrent protection and other configurable control functions. The final solution offered a more aesthetically clean look with minimal noise, removed all issues relating to hydraulic oil leaks and battery load, weighed less, and significantly reduced installation and service costs.

The use of electric linear actuators meant the successful launch of a state-of-the-art transfer vehicle with increased casket capacity, enhanced user experience and ease of use, all of which strengthen the Hillier brand. Turning to automation has been a smart move for the company.

“The use of LINAK actuators has allowed us to increase van production and triple our output, enabling our company to attract the largest Australian funeral organisation for this product. We have also secured a contract with Australia’s largest long-haul transfer company, which has achieved 1.85 million kilometres with 22 vans in 12 months.” – Clayton Hillier.


A promising future thanks to automation


Hillier is not the only company going electric, but the use of the LA36 in their innovative designs has resulted in a more robust, reliable and long-lasting solution, enabling their vehicles to meet their customers’ requirements.

“With the supply of LINAK, we have increased our staff base and secured many long-term contracts for the future. We are now the leading Australian transfer van supplier to the funeral industry. We’ve retained the Hillier promise to our customers, ‘superior quality’, that we have built over the years.” – Clayton Hillier.

To learn more about Hillier by Design, visit their website:

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