Demonstrating commitment

Published:  12 July, 2010

Since the "baby “ of the Combilift fleet - the compact Combi-CB - was successfully launched two years ago, managing director Martin McVicar and technical director Robert Moffett have turned their attention to bigger things and have developed the  largest ever Combilift 4-way forklift built to date – the 25 tonne capacity C25,000 model with dimensions of around 5 x 5m, and an unladen weight of 32t and a 127kW engine. The second new product is the Combilift Straddle Carrier, designed to offer a very cost effective solution for haulage, distribution and shipping operations even with relatively low throughput levels. This 35t capacity vehicle offers complete independence for the transportation of containers and similarly oversized loads around a site.

Combilift has reinvested a sizeable amount of yearly turnover (10%) in R&D since it was established in 1998, enabling it to continue to be at the forefront of innovation in the materials handling sector. At least one new model a year has been introduced since the first C4000 4-way forklift rolled off the production line. With over 10,000 Combilifts in operation in more than 50 countries, what started as a small operation aiming to provide a niche product is now a recognised global brand.

Martin McVicar commented: “The introduction of these two products to Combilift's range underlines our engineering and manufacturing expertise and demonstrates our commitment to the ongoing provision of innovative handling solutions for an ever wider range of applications.”



Developments in sectors such as manufacturing and the timber and construction industries have prompted companies to look for safer and more efficient methods of handling increasingly larger loads – whether these are incoming raw materials or finished products. Combilift has responded to feedback from customers by steadily increasing the size and lift capacity of its range since its “core” C4,000 model was first developed. Following the introduction of 6, 8, and 10 tonne trucks, Combilift launched its 14 tonne model at the IMHX exhibition in 2007.  Combilift has now broken another size barrier with the launch of its 25t capacity C25,000 model. 

The C25,000 may resemble a standard Combilift – just on a much larger scale, but the implications of designing and building a truck almost twice as large as any existing model called for some innovative engineering and manufacturing solutions.

The Kubota engines used as standard in the diesel powered Combilift range did not offer the required HP for a model of this size, and after a thorough analysis of the market Combilift opted for a John Deere engine. “We chose the John Deere 6068 HF not only because of its 170 HP capacity but also because we found it to be the quietest and most environmentally friendly option”, says Martin McVicar.

A critical issue was also the platform height. The size of three single wheels required for a machine of this weight would have resulted in an unworkable platform height, but by using double wheels the platform has been kept to 1150mm. Hydraulic fork positioners have also been incorporated as a standard feature, much to the relief of drivers for whom it would be nigh on impossible to shift the extremely heavy forks manually. The shotblasting facility at the Monaghan assembly plant factory was not large enough to cope with assembled parts so steel elements were treated in sections before being assembled. 


A solution For Aggreko

Aggreko, supplier of temporary power and temperature control solutions, is the first company to take delivery of the newly developed Combilift Straddle Carrier. This will enable it to make significant cost savings on the handling of the large number of generators and container units produced at the site to keep up with global customer demand.

After making an initial enquiry regarding better handling procedures for generator engines in the pre production storage facility, Aggreko turned its attention to the more pressing issue of ensuring the efficient movement of finished generators due to a planned move to a new site in 2011. Aggreko"s team – project coordinator Derek Neilson, facilities coordinator Alex Hardie and senior project manager Ken Gordon, consulted Brian Docherty of the local Combilift distributor Douglas Gillespie Plant (DGP) and Combilift’s Anthony Rooney for advice. Together they identified the Straddle Carrier, then in the design phase, as being ideal for Aggreko’s requirements. “With lengths of 20 to 40ft, the dimensions of generators are comparable to containers”, says DGP’s Brian Docherty. He added: “I was aware of product development at Combilift involving container handling and when we looked more closely at the design and features of the Combilift Straddle Carrier everyone involved in the project realised that this would be far superior to any other option on the market.

“Two major factors in the choice of new handling equipment were cost and the weight of any machine capable of carrying 25t loads”, explains Derek Neilson. “Our previous system was based on cranes and trailers, and hire costs for these have been extremely high and we were keen to cut this.  Any conventional reach stacker up to our requirements has an unladen weight of around 70t, and the loading on each wheel would have meant spending considerable sums on reinforcing the floor in the new premises. As the Combilift Straddle Carrier is around four times lighter than a reach stacker, the ground pressure is obviously greatly reduced even when it is used to carry two generators to its full capacity of 35t. We therefore quickly recognised that it is not only a more affordable alternative to the conventional truck but will enable Aggreko to save considerable outlay on upgrading the flooring across the new site.”    

Combilift has developed both four-wheel and three-wheel Straddle Carriers. As Aggreko needed to double stack generators from the ground up their initial option is a four-wheel, diesel powered model (LPG power is also available) and the company will also be leasing a second three-wheel machine and looking to purchase a further four-wheel model before the move to the new premises.

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