SKIPTON BASED MERRITT AND FRYERS WAS ONE OF THE FIRST COMPANIES IN THE TIMBER AND MERCHANT SECTOR IN THE UK TO TAKE DELIVERY OF A COMBILIFT 4 WHEEL SIDELOADER.
This long established family owned business started in 1935 supplying building materials and is now a one-stop shop for the trade and public with a very specialist and extensive stock of timber, building, plumbing, hardware and decorating products.
The Combilift has replaced an old sideloader that had been in service for around twenty years, and Director Andrew Merritt was keen to swap like for like to a certain extent. “It was obviously not going to be economically viable to refurbish such an old machine but our drivers were used to a 4 wheel model. Whilst we were looking forward to more up to date technology and engineering we were keen to stick to this design. Our materials handling provider Briggs had recommended Combilift and the timing was perfect as the new machine had just been developed.”
The versatility of the 5t capacity truck enables it to be used in the relatively narrow confines between racking in the warehouse, in the general sales yard as well as in the large timber importing area. As it predominantly works outside diesel power was considered to be the best option. Its tight turning circle – “very impressive for its size,” says driver Howard Baker – is of great benefit for precise manoeuvring with long loads around customers’ parked cars and other obstacles.
A lot of the side loaders time is spent in the timber importing section, which it accesses easily in spite of a very steep gradient from the main site. This is where Merritt and Fryers store one of its specialities – very large section timber such as joists which can measure 1970 x 1970 x 45.4ft which it also supplies to major national chains. Offloading, loading and moving these extreme loads requires a robust and powerful truck, and the Combilift’s single hydrostatic drive motor coupled with a JCB differential axle incorporated in the new model ensures optimum performance under these demanding conditions.
Combilift first introduced its 3 wheel multi-directional sideloaders into the company’s range in 2004 and the 4-wheel, two directional model now gives an extra element of choice for customers. It is also engineered to be very suitable for prolonged long distance travel at high speeds, eliminating any concern of overheating that can be an issue in other sideloader brands.
Ease of operation and driver comfort were major considerations when the truck was at the drawing board stage and this has been borne out in the finished product. The new ergonomic cab features a deep suspension seat with joystick control, and pneumatic tyres make for a smooth ride across uneven surfaces such as cobbles. The engine is now situated in a low-level compartment underneath the platform for excellent visibility when reversing. Driver Howard Baker comments: “The tilting carriage makes it very easy to get the forks under the packs and the full glazing on the front of the cab enables you to look directly down onto the load. The rounded off corners are good for manoeuvring in the really narrow areas of the sales yard and I like the fact that you can tilt the steering column when getting in and out.”