When Imorex Shipping Services took delivery of its Combilift Straddle Carrier (Combi-SC) it did so in a bid to make container handling a much quicker and safer procedure at its premises next to the Port of Felixstowe. The SC has since clocked up over 2,000 hours and has given Imorex a much greater degree of flexibility. It has also enabled the company to handle 110 TEU’s a week compared with 70 with the previous system.
Founded in 1973, Imorex has since evolved to become a provider of a wide range of shipping services including car shipping, freight forwarding and warehousing. It is one of the largest companies in the region in terms of the volume of groupage containers that it handles, and was the first in the area to recognise the benefits that the SC would bring to its operations.
Before the SC’s arrival a combination of heavy duty forklifts and ramps were used to unload containers from the back of trailers, but according to MD Alan Nunn this was time consuming and restricted the size and weight of individual items that could be handled. Alan also wanted to go for ground based operations to make cargo handling quicker and researched alternatives.
“A lot of the container handling equipment on the market was unsuitable for our premises,” said Alan. “For a busy operation of our size the yard is relatively small for example, so best possible use of available space was a key requirement. Jimmy Pascavage of Fork Truck Direct suggested the SC and his recommendation was spot on, as when we saw it in action we realised that its extreme manoeuvrability and tight turning circle would be ideal for working in quite narrow confines.”
Having looked at another type of straddle carrier, the Imorex team was won over by the SC’s engineering and simplicity of design as well as its reasonable cost. “We were assured that the machine would be dependable and easy to maintain and this has proved to be the case,” said Alan. “Reliability is vital, otherwise everything backs up, and the SC is also testimony to my belief that over-complicated pieces of equipment are not always the best.”
Imorex’s SC is a three wheel, two-wheel drive diesel powered 35t model, which can lift, transport and set down the 20’ and 40’ containers that are brought in from the port. Combilift’s SC range is also available with heavier lifting capacities and can handle 45’, high cube, reefer and flat rack containers, offering complete operational flexibility. Its low level cab ensures excellent visibility compared with the restricted view of the load when using heavy duty forklifts. It also benefits from a very low unladen weight, which reduces the overall ground pressure even when fully loaded, making it ideal for operation on poor surfaces without the need for costly reinforcement.
Getting rid of the ramps – which can be the same length as a trailer – has had multiple benefits. Space in the yard has been freed up to enable containers to be stored back to back, with the SC able to manoeuvre easily around them. Driving forklifts up and down the ramps puts a lot of wear and tear on the tyres and also necessitates tricky reversing manoeuvres for drivers. There is also no more risk of damage to the airlines on trailers that the ramps used to cause.
Imorex has also been able to reduce the number of its trailers from four down to three, saving outlay on insurance, fuel and maintenance whilst still easily coping with the almost 40% increase in the number of TEU’s it can handle.
“We are delighted with the machine,” said Alan. “The drivers found the transition from the forklift easy to manage and if there is a problem, which is a rare occurrence, Fork Truck Direct has a team of engineers in the area for instant back up and support. Since the SC was shipped over from Combilift’s manufacturing facility in Ireland and assembled on site in just one day it has made a huge difference to our daily operations.”
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