Sometimes it takes an entire fleet of forklifts to make a significant impact on cost reduction and productivity. Sometimes it takes just one Linde H80-900.
That’s what Brisbane based broadacre agriculture irrigation specialist Valmont Irrigation Australia discovered when the company sought a better handling solution for dealing with components imported from its American parent.
Valmont’s Carole Park premises on Brisbane’s southwest fringe takes delivery of up to 150 shipping containers each year. Some of the contents are as small as computer chips, while many are 38ft irrigation pipe sections. All need to be identified, logged and stored either in warehouse racking or on skids in the Valmont yard.
When Warehouse Manager Craig Thomson joined the company three years ago an important part of his brief was to use fresh eyes to identify processes which could be improved by adopting different methods.
“It is very easy for a business to get into a situation where some things are done in a particular way because that’s the way they have always been done,” Craig said. “Because I was new to the business I was able to identify areas around our warehouse operations where we could improve.“
The area of concern was the efficient use of labour resources to unload containers, store materials and then load trucks for deliveries to customers.
“We were spending $400 each time a container arrived to hire a large retriever tow truck to pull skids of up to 100 pipe lengths out into the yard,” Craig said. “On top of that we were forced to work to the towing company’s schedule and not our own.
A year later Valmont’s material handling practices have been completely transformed by a single Linde short term rental H80-900 diesel forklift.
“To be perfectly honest I went to every forklift company in the phone book to find a solution,” Craig said. “The reason I went with Linde was that no other company was prepared to guarantee the towing capability of their equipment.
“Linde were exceptional in sitting down with us, listening to our needs, then walking around our warehouse and yard to understand exactly what we needed. They followed that up by bringing out a couple of machines to confirm towing capacity.
“It all came down to the efficiency of the hydrostatic drive and Linde not only guaranteed that, they backed it up with a full technical presentation and then a demo on site.”
Craig Thomson points out that Australia was in the grips of a drought – a tough time for irrigation companies – when the solution was put to management, but a cost analysis of using a Linde H80 on short term rental soon made a very convincing case.
With the H80-900 on order, Linde provided a used H80-600 as an interim solution and the die was cast for a new era of efficient material handling at Valmont. The company has had the latest H80-900 since January 2010.
“Previously it would take all day to unload 100 pipes from a container and put them in storage,” Craig said. “With the Linde H80 we are getting that done in 90 minutes and it provides just as much assistance when we need to load trucks to send equipment to customers.
“Our average irrigation system includes 24 lengths of pipe and all the associated hardware such as tyres, trolleys and controllers. That used to take us a day to load onto a semi. Just last week we loaded three irrigation machines in one day. “
With its 14 tonne towing capacity, the H80-900 also means Valmont no longer needs to rely on the availability of a costly retriever tow truck and can use its labour force more efficiently.
Valmont’s Linde H80-900 is fitted with 2.4 metre forks, allowing it to make the most of a 900mm load centre so that it can lift a skid of 30 long pipes and position them across the tray of a semi-trailer without difficulty.
The H80-900 is also helping the company to store more pipes on skids in less space, stacking them up to four metres high. Its suitability for the task and reliability has proved to be a cost saver.
“The reliability of the H80-900 has been brilliant and the beauty of it is that it only needs service every 1,000 hours,” Craig said. “We reported an oil leak once and Linde were out straight away to fix it. Their support has been second to none.
“We’ve also found the H80-900 to be very economical on fuel. A small tanker tops it up with 60 or 70 litres of diesel each week and that is all it needs, so we don’t even have to worry about making arrangements for storing fuel on site.
“We’ll continue with Linde. There’s another make of 4.0 tonne forklift in the warehouse and we are already planning to replace that with a smaller Linde machine when the current contract expires.
“As for the towing work, now that we have seen the possibilities we are already planning to step up to an even larger Linde forklift in July 2011.“
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