An innovative collaboration between the Elliott Group Ltd, the world’s leading manufacturer of modular accommodation and secure storage solutions and Irish materials handling manufacturer Combilift has resulted in safer, more rationalised and cost effective handling and storage procedures at Elliott’s assembly plant at Carnaby in North Humberside.
Part of the Algeco Scotsman Group which operates in 31 countries around the world, Elliott supplies standard and bespoke single or multi storey buildings for lease, hire or sale. Carnaby is the largest of Elliott’s four manufacturing sites in the country, covering 27 acres with an annual output of around 3,000 units.
“In an overview of handling procedures we identified safety, cost and customer service as areas to focus on,” says Operations Director Neal Andrew. “We previously relied on a combination of standard forklifts and mobile cranes. The cranes were very costly to hire and as they could not be used in windy weather we were often paying for them to stand idle. This also had the knock on effect of delayed deliveries to our customers.”
A number of possible solutions were considered such as large container handling forklifts, but following advice from materials handling supplier Barloworld, Elliott went for the Combilift Straddle Carrier. Due to the nature of the loads to be handled a raft of specific features needed to be incorporated into the machine which has resulted in a bespoke piece of equipment to replace the forklift / crane combination.
The Straddle Carrier’s frame and wheels are positioned either side of the load enabling the distance between stacked modules to be substantially reduced. The frame has been designed to be raised to varying heights and enables modules to be double stacked. This is an improvement on the previous bulk storage methods in terms of space utilisation and also makes retrieving specific units quicker.
The three wheeled design ensures maximum stability with all wheels permanently in ground contact even on uneven surfaces. For a machine with a load capacity of 30t its own weight is extremely light compared with conventional container handling forklifts which can weigh in unladen at 70t. The reduced ground pressure per wheel therefore enables easy operation on Elliott’s gravel yards, causing no ruts or surface disturbance and avoids the need for costly ground reinforcement.
Module sizes range from 7 to 14m in length and those which incorporate features such as kitchens have off centred loads. A series of three point adjustment bars have been fitted to the beam, offering 166 different anchoring positions which ensures the stable lifting and transportation of all modules.
Since taking delivery of the Straddle Carrier Elliott has been able to do away with the substantial costs associated with crane hire and the stability of the machine has greatly reduced the risk of damage to the modules when they are being moved. Bad weather is no longer an impediment to the delivery schedule and a further benefit has been better utilisation of labour at the Carnaby plant.
“A great deal of consultation and technical expertise has gone into the development of our machine, and Barloworld and the management and engineering team at Combilift were very receptive to our input,” says Neal Andrew. “We now have a system in place for moving modules around the site and onto delivery trailers which is safer, quicker, more dependable and much more cost effective.”
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