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Keeping metal handling costs competitive

28 January 2018

Many metal applications are trying to reduce costs, but few realise that a fresh approach to their materials handling equipment could help to keep costs competitive.

By choosing the right lift trucks and attachments, steel handling operations can move more material in less time, and at less cost.  But it depends on the needs of the particular application. Botros Hanna, Industry Solutions Manager for Hyster Europe explains the challenges, and the solutions.

Wire handling 

Wire coil handling mistakes can result in damage or banding straps breaking, causing delays and incurring costs. This makes precise handling with the right equipment crucial. 

Specialist attachments play a role in reducing load damage. For instance, Teflon and aluminium covering on rams can help protect coils, while also enabling hot coils up to 700°C to be handled with ease. 

Camera systems can also help drivers position loads more accurately and provide alternative viewpoints around the truck. Hyster has an increased range of options for truck-to-truck, truck-to-object and truck-to-pedestrian detection systems for better damage avoidance with expensive steel loads. Drivers also have greater accountability when telematics systems such as Hyster Tracker are used.

One of the most significant cost savings is by switching to multiple coils handling to speed up cycle times. For instance, Hyster truck attachments can allow wire operations to handle multiple coils in one load. In the case of using a Hyster ReachStacker with special multiple C-Hook attachment, up to 13 wire coils can be handled at a time. This results in optimal production, while reducing total operation costs for the whole materials handling process.

Sheet and slab handling

Using magnets is one of many ways to handle sheets of steel cost effectively.  To reduce cycle times and speed up operations, magnets can be used with a Hyster® truck to lift a specific number of sheets, before placing a set number down in another location. With smart controls in the cab, not all sheets have to be deposited at once. In fact, the operator can deposit the required number of steel sheets in any number of locations until the cycle is complete.

In foundries, heat is a factor that can affect the reliability of a truck, as semi-finished products, like slabs, blooms, ingots or bars, exit the manufacturing process at approximately 900°C. Hyster trucks overcome this challenge with heat resistant hoses, and a heat shield for hydraulic cylinder protection. An extended front fender can 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.

Coil handling

Some applications have a need for fewer machines to do more varied work. One Hyster customer, for example, needed to use the same ReachStacker to handle containers, trailers, and steel coils. The unique Hyster tool changer allows easy exchange of attachments, from a standard container spreader, to an intermodal spreader, and then a C-hook attachment. This offers maximum flexibility while helping to drive down costs as just one truck is required.

Coils differ in size and weight, so it’s also important to make sure that the truck is not overloaded. Whether using a ReachStacker or lift truck, a series of weighing systems from Hyster help to prevent overloading, and also to obtain the verified gross mass (VGM) for SOLAS.

Tube handling

Unpaved ground at steel yards can cause "load bouncing” when transporting long and heavy loads. The strong Hyster chassis and mast design, as seen on the H8-16XM series for example, is an important feature to minimise sideways bouncing when handling long products on bumpy roads. The robust frame and wide drive axle ensure ‘rock solid’ stability and long-term durability when handling loads at full capacity. In addition, Hyster trucks can be equipped with various types of hydraulic clamps to hold long products in a secure position. This aids smooth and efficient handling by preventing the load from rolling off of the forks or bouncing sideways. The robust quality of the Hyster truck, mast and carriage also helps when in high shock load operations.

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. 

Other cost considerations

To get the best value and performance from a lift truck, buyers must consider lifetime costs over a five-year period, sometimes more for larger trucks, in relation to the specific operation. Hours, ramps, continuous lifting at capacity, heat, dust and many other factors all affect the cost of ownership.  

Fuel efficiency is another key consideration for controlling costs. Hyster has developed some of the most fuel efficient heavy-duty forklifts on the market, helping steel customers to not only adhere to Stage IV / Tier 4 final (T4f) emissions legislation, but also to significantly reduce their monthly fuel bills. This adds up to a lot of money when you consider the size of the machines and fleets.

For more information on efficient and cost-effective materials handling in steel applications, visit www.hyster.eu