The volatility of the global steel industry has fuelled demand for highly efficient and flexible handling equipment. Botros Hanna from Hyster Europe explains some of the key handling challenges faced by the steel industry today, and how the company is making light work of the heaviest loads.
[Q]: What are the main materials handling challenges that steel customers face?
[Botros Hanna]: A consistent and efficient handling process is more important than ever to ensure that there are no delays in the supply chain. Reliable handling equipment that can do the job effectively is therefore critical, particularly due to the heavy, awkward loads and challenging environments.
Most steel customers use trucks over 8 tonnes lift capacity with some sort of front end attachment, a combination that requires robust trucks that are easy to drive and position loads.
Steel operators need a complete handling solution which is why Hyster has a dedicated steel industry solutions team that has significant experience to overcome their specific challenges and optimise steel handling applications.
[Q]: What has Hyster done to ensure reliability in steel applications?
[BH]: Hyster has become increasingly industry focused, paying particular attention to understanding the challenges and needs of different industries, including the steel industry. This has ensured that we can offer intelligently designed solutions that suit the many different applications that exist throughout the steel industry.
In addition, all Hyster® lift trucks up to 52 tonnes are built for the toughest jobs, but there are some important additions used in steel operations. For example, where dust is an issue, Hyster has introduced an extended pre-cleaner air intake to help avoid engine failure, on demand cooling to reduce fan induced dust and automatic greasing to force dirt out of critical wear areas.
Heat is also a factor that can seriously affect the reliability of a truck when semi-finished products in the form of slabs, blooms, ingots or bars exit the manufacturing process at approximately 900C. Hyster® trucks overcome temperature problems by fitting heat resistant hoses to prevent them from drying out and leaking, and a heat shield for hydraulic cylinder protection. An extended front fender will also prevent tyres from softening and a chainless monomast eliminates the need for a chain which could otherwise dry out.
In fact, Hyster has one of the toughest heat protection packages in the world for foundry environments to ensure that the forklift maintains a low cost of operation and reliability throughout its life time.
[Q]: What do you mean by a low cost of operation?
[BH]: To get the best value and performance from a lift truck, buyers must look at lifetime costs over a five-year period, sometimes more for larger trucks, in relation to their specific operation. Hours, ramps, continuous lifting at capacity, heat, dust and many other factors all affect the cost of ownership.
Our job is to provide the right truck to give the best performance, value, productivity and reliability in all applications.
One of our most significant technical developments over the last few years has led to significant operational cost savings for steel businesses and improved their environmental performance.
[Q]: How are Hyster® trucks saving steel customers money and helping them to improve their green credentials?
[BH]: Hyster has developed some of the most fuel efficient heavy duty forklifts on the market, helping steel customers significantly reduce their monthly fuel bills by as much as 25% in some cases. This adds up to a lot of money when you consider the size of the machines and fleets.
These savings were a byproduct of the company’s approach to meeting the Stage IV / Tier 4 final (T4f) emissions legislation, which all Hyster® trucks above 8 tonne lift capacity now adhere to. Most steel applications use trucks over 8 tonnes lift capacity.
[Q]: Steel comes in many shapes, sizes and weights. How can Hyster® trucks adapt?
[BH]: Whether an application is handling steel band coils, wire coils, pipes, tubes, structural steel or hot semi-finished products, Hyster has highly refined and tested solutions.
We have multi-purpose (integral or hook-type) side-shift, fork positioning carriages with a range of different "quick disconnect" fork and front-end attachments available. This includes rounded forks, grab clamps, coil manipulators, C-hooks, pipe stabilisers, hydraulic pipe clamps, coil rams (with up to 13 picks), twin rams, long rams, magnets and more.
We are finding some customers are wanting to invest in fewer machines to do more varied work. One customer, for example, needed to use the same Reach Stacker to handle containers, trailers and steel coils. A unique tool changer allows easy exchange of attachments, in that case a standard container spreader, an intermodal spreader and a C-hook attachment, offering maximum flexibility with minimal fuss
[Q]: How does Hyster support such a global industry?
[BH]: Hyster is a global business with operations across the world and a global dealer network which offers rapid response locally. In addition, we have separate industry managers for different regions which helps to further ensure that customers are supported and have their specific needs met.