Inside Logistics

Heavy-duty power for heavy-duty loads

Combilift debuts super-sized forklift and a double-stacking container carrier


August 5, 2010
by Joe Terrett

Combilift’s straddle carrier.

In the manufacturing, forestry and construction sectors, there’s inevitably a lot of big stuff to move around. Combilift Ltd, the Irish long-load handling specialist, has rolled out the first of its new 25-ton forklifts designed to handle big jobs such as fabricated structures, large-diameter pipes, timber or even modular data centres.

Its C25,000 model is one of two new products recently unveiled at Combilift’s headquarters and plant in County Monaghan, Ireland to journalists representing trade publications flown in at its own expense from 30 of its 50 world markets.

This truck, the largest in Combilift’s line-up, is powered by a 170-hp John Deere 6068 HF engine and measures five by five metres, with a 3.2-metre-high cab.

One of the unique features of its trucks is three-wheel, four-way manoeuvrability. It allows an operator to pick up a load, back up, turn the wheels 90 degrees and head out, thus eliminating the need for the wide turning arc other forklifts require.

However, putting proportionate single wheels on the C25,000 would have resulted in an unworkable platform height, so Combilift’s engineers put double wheels on the front and back ends to keep the height of the 2,600-millimetre platform to 1,150 millimetres.

The fork section is 120 by 300 by 2,600 millimetres. Manually adjusting the forks, which have a four-metre reach and outside spread of 2,400 millimetres, would also be a challenge so the trucks sport hydraulic fork positioners.

“The mast moves in and out like a regular Combilift, and can handle a 20-foot container,” said Martin McVicar, managing director and one of Combilift’s founders and owners, at the truck’s debut.

Moving data centres
The first one off the line is in operation at the BladeRoom Group’s plant in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, in the UK. The company makes modular data centres that save energy keeping computer servers cool. The C25,000 will be used to move around the 18-ton, fully fitted 14- by 4.2-metre units.

The company is using it instead of costly overhead gantry cranes or a gigantic counterbalance truck, deemed too big for the manufacturing area.

What’s the cost of one of these super-sized trucks? McVicar puts the Canadian price at about $500,000.

For specs visit Combilift’s website and click on “C-Series.”

Container helper

Combilift’s other new product for shippers, distributors or haulers with low-ish through-put is a Combi-Straddle Carrier for quick loading or unloading of 20- to 45-foot containers.

The demonstration model was a four-wheel version (Combilift also makes a three-wheel version) customized for Aggreko plc, which makes and rents temporary power units and temperature control products for the global market.

The company, looking for an alternative to a costly system of cranes and trailers, determined a conventional reach stacker capable of doing the job would have an unladen weight of 70 tons. That would place too much pressure on the plant floor in Dumbarton, Scotland, which would require costly reinforcement.

Comibilift said Aggreko’s Combi-Straddle Carrier, a third of the price of a reach stacker ($200,000 Canadian, said McVicar), is four times lighter, even when it’s used to carry two generators at its 35-tonne capacity.
Aggreko moves 115 units weekly. Taking one from production to loading for dispatch takes less than three minutes.

The operator’s cab at ground level provides a 360-degree view. During the demonstration, the Combilift vehicle quickly and easily positioned itself over the trailer to hook up and lift a 20-foot container and its telescopic design allowed the vehicle to move the container inside a warehouse space for double stacking.

Bottom line, Aggreko eliminates the pile-up of trailers waiting to be loaded and unloaded on site, stuffing/unstuffing will be much safer at ground-level and McVicar estimates the company will save about €100,000 a year.

Photo courtesy of Combilift.

Joe Terrett is the editor of Canadian PLANT