Thursday 27th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Bespoke counterbalance fleet drives savings at recycling plant


Recycling company Viridor has seen big cost savings since it switched to a fleet of specially modified counterbalance forklift trucks at its 24/7 Crayford site in Kent.

The six diesel-powered models from the Jungheinrich IC-engine VFG range, were redesigned to feature a lower cab and mast, so as to enable the forklifts to drive inside containers that measure just over eight foot in height.

Previously, the company was using trucks which needed a mast clearance height in excess of nine foot. This meant that Viridor had to transport bales of material in 9’ 6”-high containers, and because the dimensions of the bales only allowed the blocks of recycled material to be stacked two high within the containers, a lot of empty space was left at the top of the container units.

However, with the lower mast featured on the Jungehinrich trucks the company can now transport the same number of bales in 8’ 6”-high containers with little or no wasted space. Some 70 container loads leave the site each day, and with the shift to lower height containers, the transport cost per container has dropped significantly.

Viridor’s Barry Lowers says: “The savings that the switch to smaller containers will allow us to make are very impressive. We had previously been wasting money transporting a lot of ‘fresh air’ in the 9’ 6” containers.”

The forklifts also feature double-width bale clamps to help pack the containers efficiently and safely. The clamps allow two square bales measuring 1200mm x 1200mm and weighing up to 1100kg each to be carried side by side, which helps speed up the container stuffing process.

The trucks are fitted with a reversing camera system, which transmits a picture of the rear view to a screen in the cab, when the truck is reversing.

They also come complete with cyclonic air filters, which restrict the amount of dust and debris generated on site, from getting inside the engine, which helps reduce downtime.

The trucks feature hydrostatic drive technology, which makes them particularly suited to intensive materials handling operations where a lot of “shuttling” is involved. The technology comprises few components, which helps reduce maintenance.

At the Crayford site domestic waste materials such as glass, paper, cardboard and plastics are separated and processed before being baled and shipped for further processing into raw materials and, ultimately, going on to begin a second life as a new manufactured product.

Incoming material is taken from the lorries and delivered directly to the processing plant by a fleet of front-hoe loaders. Once separated and processed, materials are bound into bales which are then transferred into containers using the new fleet.

Lowers says: “The new trucks are far more efficient than our previous fleet which was always breaking down. We work the trucks extremely hard and it is important that they are available when called upon and the new Jungheinrich models have given us no problems whatsoever.

“I have been extremely impressed with the way they perform. The operators also really like the reverse safety camera. Viridor is extremely health and safety conscious and anything that improves on site safety is always very welcome.”