Two Combilift 4-way sideloaders have been drafted in by the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency (DSDA) to work at its Ashchurch vehicle and equipment storage facility near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. The extreme manoeuvrability and versatility of the C5000SL models compared to conventional sideloaders or counterbalance forklifts made them the ideal vehicles to handle a very specific and problematic type of load – components for assembling tank and infantry bridging.
The DSDA is an MOD agency, and the Ashchurch facility is one of its largest sites. It is the central storage depot for a variety of bridge units waiting to undergo repair and maintenance programmes. The large and bulky size and shape of the units were causing a problem for mainstream forklifts, as Defence Transport Operator Bob Sharples explains: “The maths doesn’t add up when you try to get a 13.5m bridge trackway through a 4m wide door by travelling forwards with a counterbalance truck. We knew we had a problem, so we contacted our handling specialist Barloworld, who recommended a demo of a Combilift.”
Barloworld has managed the British Armed Service’s entire materials handling fleet since 2002, and looks after some 4,500 pieces of equipment across 600 MOD establishments. About 60% of the fleet consists of warehouse, counterbalance and container handling equipment, but Barloworld also supplies other equipment to fulfill the needs of specialist applications vital to MOD operations.
The performance of the 5t capacity Combilift SL made it immediately apparent that this truck would be the solution. Two diesel powered models are now on site at Ashchurch, dedicated primarily to handling the trackways as well as other parts such as 8m long ramps, 8m and 4m panels, and long packs of pipes.
The 4-way capability of the 3-wheel, all-wheel drive Combilift gives that much more versatility over a conventional sideloader – enabling it to block stack for instance, allowing for increased storage in the halls and workshops. The trucks can also offload and load onto lorries if necessary.
Sgt. Kingsley Lampshire spends a lot of time with the trucks, and is happy to report that they have made his life a lot easier compared with the old system: “The Combilifts are so manoeuvrable, and the carousel mode in particular comes into its own when we remove the panels from the storage area to the cribs for work to be carried out. Without this we would be doing long, time consuming runs up and down the workshop. Health and safety procedures have also improved as the visibility from the cab is excellent.”
The Combilift range of 4-way forklifts is known for its robust design and build, with a minimum of sensitive components to ensure reliable operation and easy maintenance wherever in the world they are operating. As the DSDA has over 100 bridge parts in store at Ashchurch, reliability is vital for smooth operations, and the 5 designated drivers are happy to report that the trucks have never let them down.
All Combilifts are manufactured by Combilift Ltd in Monaghan Ireland. The current range now encompasses over a dozen models with capacities ranging from 2.5 – 14 tonnes, with LPG, diesel or electric power available. The trucks are designed to work both inside and out, on semi-rough terrain and in all weather conditions. A team of design engineers at the Monaghan factory in Ireland will also draw up warehouse layouts, free of charge, to illustrate the best possible use of available storage space using the Combilift system.