Hyster electric lift trucks are helping manufacturers of finished metal goods to reduce damage, and the associated costs, at every stage of their operation, while keeping productivity high.
“Metal handling is not just about big trucks handling steel pipes and slabs or tough forklifts working in hot foundry applications,” says Botros Hanna, Industry Manager for Hyster Europe. “Almost every industry imaginable uses some sort of metal product at some point.”
Numerous manufacturing operations worldwide transform metals such as aluminium, copper or zinc into finished goods, from tiny components to car parts. Hyster® equipment can be found reliably supporting these operations at every stage of the process.
Materials arrive as coils
The first handling challenge is receiving delivery of small metal coils on a trailer. Here Hyster® lift trucks help to unload the coils, which are usually small enough to be handled with standard forks, from the lorry and transport these to the warehouse.
A typical lift truck used for this operation is the durable Hyster® J3.5XN four-wheel electric forklift, which features a robust chassis, with strong side covers that offer protection against possible impact damage.
“Damage at this stage could mean that the metal cannot be used in production, leading to unnecessary costs,” says Botros. “The Hyster® J series lift trucks are popular in these operations as they provide good stability, a strong mast and smooth handling as standard, helping to prevent the loads from being shaken or damaged.”
The reliable Hyster® J3.5XN electric forklift trucks offer equivalent performance compared to a Hyster® IC lift truck and are suited for operation both indoors and outdoors. This makes it the ideal truck to transport goods from an outdoor loading area to an indoor warehouse.
Thanks to three-phase motor technology for the drive and lift, the trucks are particularly well-suited to demanding applications during long shifts. Easily accessible components and on-board diagnostics also help reduce downtime.
In metal goods manufacturing applications, there is a choice of Hyster® solutions to collect the coils from storage in the warehouse and take them to the production line.
Some applications opt for a Reach Truck, such as the Hyster® R2.5, which includes an ergonomic driver's cab with efficient operation via touch screen and joystick, as well as an adjustable steering column for comfort. Others opt for Hyster® Low, Medium or High-Level Order Pickers, or depending on their warehouse configuration, may use a forklift.
“No matter which type of electric truck the application chooses, they will benefit from zero emissions – something that is increasingly important to customers in the metal industry,” says Botros. “Electric trucks also tend to operate more quietly, contributing to a more pleasant warehouse working environment.”
As this part of the operation is highly repetitive, there is also potential for applications to automate tasks with affordable Hyster® Robotic solutions, such as tow tractors, pedestrian counterbalance trucks and low-level order pickers. Hyster ‘Driven by Balyo’ technology combines reliable Hyster® lift trucks with robotic control systems to help improve accuracy, boost efficiency and reduce damage, keeping busy production lines running smoothly, while driving down cost.
Handling finished goods
When the metal components or products are complete, they will typically be collected from the production line by a Hyster® lift truck and loaded into lorries for transport to the end user. The finished goods may be packed onto pallets or handled directly on forks.
“A big challenge at this stage is manoeuvrability, as space in the production area and the loading bay is often at a premium,” says Botros. “Three wheeled Hyster® electric lift trucks are a great solution.”
For example, the tough J2.0XNT model, with a two-tonne capacity, has a Zero Turning Radius (ZTR) axle that provides a narrow turning circle, allowing the forklift to be used in narrow aisles and on busy loading and unloading ramps.
Despite its compact design, the lift truck includes an ergonomically designed operator compartment that supports productivity by maintaining driver comfort, helping them to stay focused and operate accurately, even during long shifts.
“We know that metal handling operations can be demanding,” says Botros. “However, by choosing the right trucks to meet the specific needs at every stage in the production and supply chain, metal applications can reduce damage, increase efficiency and achieve a low total cost of ownership.”