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Big machines for big jobs - Heavy Forklifts in Australia
Thursday, 21 Jun 2012 ( #570 )
Special Feature
The role of heavy forklifts has changed significantly in recent years, with new environmental and emission regulations and greater demand from customers for improved efficiency and reduced downtimes. Melissa Barnett looks at the performance of heavy forklifts in the challenging Australian industrial environment.

Heavy forklifts, defined as machines of 10 T and above, are an essential tool, particularly in the logistics, industrial and mining sectors. As one of the most expensive and integral pieces of equipment, these machines must be kept running at optimal efficiency - often 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


In Australia, as in most other markets, containerisation has developed into a sophisticated and demanding area of specialisation. Global throughputs are currently at 600 million TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent units) and are expected to double in the next 15 years. This means more efficient use of space and faster loading and unloading times are being demanded, while the equipment to do it is expected to perform for extended periods with minimum downtime. Heavy forklifts are being designed with higher and further reach and the ability to cope with unusually sized and shaped containers. Container terminals and their supporting infrastructure often work 24-hour schedules, requiring machines to be fuel-efficient, deliver space-saving solutions and to work with minimum downtime.

Globequip's Kalmar DCT100-45 E7 at Chalmer's Container Park, Brisbane
Brisbane’s Chalmer’s Industries container park, which has a capacity of 10,000 TEU and covers 92,000 sqm, currently uses four Kalmar DCT100-45 E7 empty container handlers supplied by Globequip. John Carew, manager of the facility, says that reliability and great stability at full height were among the reasons he chose the Kalmar DCT100-45 E7s. The forklifts are capable of lifting seven high and fitted with a twin-pick attachment which allows for lifting two 20 or 40 ft. containers at the same time. The ability to stack ‘7 + 1’ high means a more efficient use of space. The container park works two shifts per day and, as Carew says, "we need the machine on the job not in the workshop. Kalmar is a proven product in this regard." A bonus for Carew is improved operating costs. "We have seen significant decreases in our monthly fuel and maintenance costs since employing the Kalmar DCT100-45 E7s." So impressed is Carew with these machines that he is expecting delivery of two more from Globequip next month.

United Equipment and Accessories' Konecrane SMV4531 TB5 45 at CCS
On the other side of the country, West Australian warehouse and distribution company Container Cargo Specialists (CCS) is using a Konecrane SMV4531 TB5 45 T capacity reach stacker supplied by United Equipment and Access Solutions. CCS’s priorities when choosing the Konecrane stacker were versatility and improved storage capacity for its customers. Steve Watson, general manager of CCS, says that he sees significant benefits with the reach stacker over the current fleet of gantry cranes. He explains: "Reach stackers give us the ability to stack containers three deep and up to five high, as well as giving us the versatility of retrieving containers without having to move the ones in front."  Watson believes that more storage space means better business operations. John Morison, sales manager for United Equipment, adds that CCS’s reach stacker is equipped with a hydraulic sliding cabin, allowing for greater visibility when lifting containers five high. This improves driver and workplace safety.


MLA Holding's Vulcan C4531 TL
Containerisation has expanded the possibilities and streamlined the network of intermodal transport across the globe. Australia has a vast network of road and rail and the most efficient way of shifting containers between ship, rail and road is with heavy lift forklifts. These include reach stackers, full or empty container handlers or conventional heavy forklifts, all able to be modified to meet a client’s needs. National forklift dealer MLA Holdings, in partnership with Linde Heavy Truck Division, has designed a line of empty container handlers and reach stackers that it believes meets the unique challenges of its Australian clients. Ranging from 16 T to 45 T, the equipment can be further modified according to client needs. For example, a large national intermodal company needed a reach stacker with intermodal legs (legs which can fold down to pick up a container from below) as well as the ability to handle extra-height and half-height containers. The customer currently has 20 C4527CH Combi-handlers and another five new-generation Vulcan C4531 TL Combi-handlers on order. Michael Kidd, heavy trucks sales manager for MLA, believes that what makes the Vulcan range of reach stackers stand out is the state-of-the-art, multi-pump hydraulic system which, he says, is a world leader. The system automatically senses the size of load that an operator has picked up and adjusts the amount of hydraulic flow and pressure required to lift it, resulting in significant fuel savings.

Pacific Material Handling's Kalmar DRF450-70S
Pacific Materials Handling has a Kalmar DRF450-70S5XS reach stacker working and two more awaiting delivery at a prominent Sydney shipping terminal. The client required the machines to be delivered with ‘rail specs’ so that containers could be lifted across one and two rail lines. Rail specs relate to the machine’s size and the ability to lift over a greater load centre of up to nine metres. Kirwan Barr, Pacific’s NSW manager, says the client required that the reach stackers were able to lift 32 T at a load centre of 5.6 m – the Kalmar DRF450 is able to offer 34 T. "This would guarantee that both rail lines can be set and all containers removed without shunting, thus saving time and costs." DRF450s are currently only used for rail and rail stacks, but the client also requested that the machines have the ability to interface with road transport, as well as be easily relocated and operate over all areas of its business.

Lencrow's Terex FDC450 S4 full conatiner handler
Industrial waste management is an ever-increasing demand in most countries. There is always the need to remove it quickly and safely. Lencrow Group Materials Handling has supplied Veolia Waste Management Systems with two Terex FDC450 S4 full container handlers for loading environmental waste onto trains from Veolia’s Clyde waste management station to a bio-reactor site west of Sydney. The forklifts load 400,000 T of waste annually and work continuously, while loading and unloading of the railway cars occurs in a two-hour window at night. Ross Grassick, managing director of Lencrow, says that the Terex FDC450 S4 has the ability to lift the load from below ground level at the rail siding and stack the containers three-high on the train. He sees Terex’s reliability as key to winning the contract. Grassick explains that because the loading/unloading times are so short, it was imperative the container handler suffered minimum downtime. "The waste cannot be left at the railway and a half-loaded train costs the client twice as much because they have to carry the same number of carriages.
"That is why Lencrow has also factored in 98% uptime penalties. Quick response service is a major component in the contract," Grassick adds.

Mining and processing

NTP's Manitou MHT10225 cylinder handler at work
Australia is in the middle of a mining boom which has increased demand for specialised equipment. NTP Forklifts is currently awaiting delivery of several Manitou MHT10225 cylinder handlers to a number of Central Queensland mine sites. The cylinder handlers are the largest telescopic handler on the market, with a lift capacity of 22,500 kg and a reach of 10 m. The attached cylinder handler has a capacity of 10,500 kg. The Manitou MHT10225 will be used to remove and replace hydraulic cylinders on large mining excavators and dump trucks. Tom Naffine, national marketing manager, notes that "at the moment, changing a hydraulic cylinder on a piece of mining equipment can take up to two days using cranes and slings".

"The MHT10225 will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to remove the cylinders. Furthermore, the machine comes standard with four-wheel drive and four-wheel steer systems, so the MHT10225 can remain onsite and be driven to the equipment that needs attention, further reducing expensive downtime." Cylinders are routinely removed for maintenance every six months, but due to working conditions they are often damaged by rocks and debris and need removing sooner. Naffine adds that all the machines awaiting delivery are compliant with relevant Australian mine standards such as MDG15 hydraulic standards, emergency stop requirements and have external isolators, UHF radio, fire suppression and high-vis markings. Each mine has a particular set of specifications, and some of these can be ordered as options from the Manitou factory.

Cargotec's Kalmar DEC100-12
Aluminium processing is tough and dirty work. Tomago Aluminium in NSW’s Hunter Valley processes 1 million tonnes of alumina every year and needed a machine that was extremely robust. Heavy lift specialists Cargotec Australia provided Tomago with four 10 T Kalmar DCE100-12s to move 10 T pallets. Three of the DEC100-12s move the pallets, while the fourth machine is responsible for shifting 1,500 T of aluminium every hour from inside the cast house to the outside pad - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All the machines endure a large amount of aluminium dust in an extremely hot and corrosive environment. The four machines were fitted in Australia before delivery to Tomago with Sigma PVV filtration systems, a high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filter and charcoal filter. The filtration system provides positive pressure within the cab preventing dust from entering. The Kalmar DCE100-12s are serviced by Cargotec every two weeks and despite the working conditions, the machines have been running without issue for over 13,000 hours, says Nicole Anderson, brand manager for Cargotec Australia.


Since heavy forklifts are intended to work hard, reliability, prompt service and availability of spare parts are key considerations for end-users. Heavy equipment is a significant financial investment and often only a single piece of heavy equipment is purchased. Although the strong Australian dollar makes these machines a more attractive purchase than ever before, they have long lives and good maintenance is essential for longevity and continued uptime. Most dealers and importers offer servicing as part of the sale or rental package and all stress the importance of being able to access spare parts quickly because downtime means lost income.

Additional information by our contributors:

Lencrow Materials Handling: Website, Shopfront, TEREX Models Specs

United Forklift and Access Solutions: Website

Cargotec: website

NTP Forklifts Australia: Website

Linde Material Handling Pty. Ltd: Website, LINDE models Specs

Pacific Materials Handling: Website

Adaptalift Forklift Rentals & Sales: Website, ShopFront

Clark Equipment: Website, OMEGA Models Specs

MLA Holdings: Website, ShopFront, VULCAN models Specs

Forkliftcenter: Website, Shopfront

GlobEquip: Website, Shopfront

Biglift Brisbane:

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