Keyo Agricultural Services is one of the UK’s largest farm gate to factory providers to the poultry processing sector, easily recognisable with its distinctive blue and white livery. It has recently taken delivery of 12 Combilift Combi-RT forklifts for its contract with Hook 2 Sisters (H2S) to complement the commissioning of the customer’s new Meyn live intake Poultry System at its Foxhills plant in Scunthorpe.

Keyo collaborated closely with materials handling specialist manufacturer Combilift when it first launched the Combi-RT in 2011, which was designed as a purpose built, no compromise forklift for the very specific requirements of the poultry live collection and transportation sector.

“Following the introduction of the Combi-RT we could see that these rugged machines were far superior to modified versions of other trucks on the market,” said Keyo Director Mark van den Bos. “We have been extremely pleased with their performance and reliability and we now operate a fleet of 46 RTs and will continue to replace our remaining 19 truck mounted forklifts with them in due course.”

“More importantly, our customers have come fully on board with the Combi-RT after witnessing  the very capable no fuss way it glides through the poultry house with the minimum of noise and disturbance, translating to extremely low poultry stress levels which is particularly important when thinning.”

Complementing the forklifts, Keyo also supplies the teams for the live collection and loading of the poultry for the Foxhills factory. With a total of around 2 million birds a week (increasing to 2.4 million) to be caught and loaded a slick operation and reliability of equipment is essential, particularly in light of Meyn’s “no lairage” system.

Keyo supplies 12 combi rt forklifts
The Meyn stainless steel containers used by H2S are five tier modules subdivided into ten compartments, allowing more air to circulate and reducing stress related damage to the birds. This system enables transport vehicles to be loaded to the UK legal maximum weight of 44t. A requirement for Keyo was therefore to provide forklifts capable of handling the 1300kg weight of the five tier modules (compared to the 950kg of four tier modules) at 1200mm load centres in a safe and legal manner – a task easily achieved by the Combi-RT.

Other challenges for Keyo as a supplier were to ensure low operational decibel noise of the forklifts to reduce stress on personnel and poultry, compact dimensions to allow access through narrow doorways and under eves with low ceilings and good traction with manoeuvrability. “Our experience with Combilift is that they take feedback on board very readily to incorporate features which enable us to meet the requirements of our customers,” said van den Bos.  “For example, the Combi-RT has a clear view 3 stage mast with full free lift as standard.”

As drivers spend long periods in the cab travelling over difficult terrain, the RT’s deep suspension seat and ample leg room is very beneficial to their comfort. Together with good visibility this reduces fatigue for enhanced health and safety practices as well as a clear view for the welfare of the poultry. An additional plus is the access to components and the ease of cleaning and disinfecting to comply with the high bio security standards prevalent in the industry.

An increase of around 20%+ in efficiency at the Foxhills plant has been estimated since the Meyn/Combi-RT combination has been in place and two other H2S plants supplied by Keyo – at Sandycroft and Llangefni – are also looking to follow suit.