Hammerer Aluminium Industries (HAI) employs a workforce of 1,600 at its eight sites in Europe, and the company’s activities include supplying high-tech aluminium profiles and finished components as well as employing highly efficient recycling processes. It is using three multidirectional forklifts from the Irish manufacturer Combilift to ensure the safer and more efficient handling of extrusion billets at the company’s HQ in Ranshofen, Austria.

The trucks have been in operation for about six months, replacing the previous sideloaders which, according to Christian Ertl, group manager of transport logistics casting, “had not exactly impressed us with their track record of reliability”.

Ertl and some of his team from HAI’s finishing and loading division visited a steel processing plant in another part of Austria where Combilifts had been in operation for some time to check out their capabilities and get the drivers’ opinions.

“We like to involve those who will actually operate the trucks in the decision-making process and after seeing them in action, we all agreed that Combilift’s products fitted the bill perfectly,” says Ertl. “The advantages of the four-way concept that combines front and side loading technology are significant compared to conventional forklifts. The ability to turn the wheels with just the touch of a button to change the direction of travel is of great benefit, particularly in the packing station, where space is pretty limited.”

Two 14 T capacity C14000 models and an 8 T C8000 truck, all diesel-powered, were chosen as the best solutions for the tough operational requirements at HAI. The 7,500mm long and 1,200mm deep bundles of billets, which can weigh up to 7, 000kg, need safe and efficient handling in the production area and packing station indoors as well as stable transportation to the interim storage area outside. They also need to be able to cope with an intensive four-shift schedule and clock up operational hours of around 3,000 a year per truck.

Space is not only at a premium in the packing station but elsewhere on the premises, including the outdoor storage area, where the billets are stored on cantilever racking up to a height of 3 m, as well as the HGV loading zone. To maximise the available space, a guided-aisle system was implemented between the racking, enabling operational aisle widths to be narrowed down to just 3,620 mm. Telescopic forks, which can reach across the whole of the trailer bed, were fitted to the C14000 models to enable loading from just one side, once again providing best use of space.

“These robust and powerful trucks from Combilift now ensure an efficient and more cost effective operation. Thanks to the co-operation with the manufacturer as well as the excellent advice from Wiener Stapler- und Fördertechnik, we were able to find a handling solution that meets all of our requirements,” Ertl notes.