Handling The Pressure
Roadway Magazine|October 2017

A number of innovations are sweeping the materials handling industry, with electric forklifts bringing promises of zero emissions, while new technologies could increase safety and productivity.

Steve Banner

Having a forklift break down when pallets laden with goods urgently need loading or off- loading can cause all sorts of chaos. That is why hauliers who fail to look after their materials handling equipment do so at their peril.

That is certainly the view taken by Impact, the UK’s sole distributor of Cat lift trucks.

Last year it launched a fixed-price service and maintenance package available to all Cat customers who own their machines outright, allowing them to spread the cost by making fixed monthly payments. It includes OEM parts, labour, lubricants and consumables, and the work is carried out by factory-trained field service engineers.

All operations differ in various ways, so before the programme is implemented, Impact surveys the haulage company’s activities to work out what its service and maintenance requirements are likely to be. As a consequence, it can put together a package tailored to meet the firm’s individual needs.

“Regularly-serviced forklifts perform better, last longer and ultimately offer a better return on investment,” points out an Impact executive.

“A positive approach to forklift maintenance helps to spot any potential issues before they result in a breakdown,” he continues. “Furthermore, any work can be scheduled outside peak operating times, minimising disruption to the business.

“Having a service plan in place is also beneficial for financial budgeting,” he adds. “It allows fleet managers to know in advance exactly how much their trucks are going to cost them month-on-month.”

What about machines that are leased? Impact can supply them subject to contract hire packages that include maintenance.

Back in May, Impact announced it had signed a deal to deliver a variety of machines to SCA Timber Supply UK on a full-service contract hire deal that includes a five-year maintenance agreement. The arrangement includes short-term hire equipment for use during peak periods of the year.

Bespoke machines can be developed for particular applications alongside bespoke after sales and finance packages.

Impact is also the exclusive UK distributor for Konecranes Lift Trucks. In July it announced that it had worked with the Swedish manufacturer to develop a bespoke container handler for Bertschi UK.

The 45-tonne-capacity reach stacker has a 33-tonne second-row lifting capacity – 2 tonnes more than the industry standard for a stacker of that size – and is being used to help Bertschi handle more than 200 containers daily at its Middles borough site.

Another bespoke Konecranes stacker is enabling specialist cleaning firm South Eastern Tanker Services to stack ISO tank and dry freight containers three-high for the first time at its Dagenham yard. Part of a family of 8-to-10-tonne-lift models, the SMV 3 ECC 80 was specified as well as supplied by Impact and has boosted storage capacity at the Essex site without increasing its carbon footprint.

High-tech advances

Like trucks, forklifts are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with the emphasis on reducing the client’s carbon footprint wherever possible.

In addition to its other activities, Impact is the sole UK distributor for the Carer range of lift trucks. Last autumn it launched the Italian manufacturer’s new line-up of electric 8-to-10-tonne capacity machines on this side of the Channel.

Zero emissions need not equal mediocre performance. Powered by a pair of 15kW motors and fitted with a 52kW pump motor, the 8.0-tonne capacity Carer A80/900X can achieve a ground speed of up to 12.5mph and a lifting speed of up to half a metre a second.

Businesses contemplating going electric may be concerned about how long the lift truck’s battery pack is likely to last before it needs replacing. Jungheinrich has responded by providing a five-year/10,000-operating-hours warranty on all the lithium-ion batteries it makes.

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