Fruitful solution at Sheerness

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The port dominates the UK market for importing fresh produce, with almost one million tonnes of fruit arriving at Sheerness every year. There are four chilled stores keeping the produce cool with Linde H 20 trucks transferring the pallets from the chill stores to the distribution vehicles. Medway Ports also moves a large volume of forest products, including paper reels, bales of pulp, timber and chipboard.

The eight 15 tonne Linde H 150 diesel counterbalance trucks are used for the heavier bulk loads while the H 50 five tonne and H 80 eight tonne diesel trucks handle the high value reels using specialised paper roll clamps. As the port accepts most types of cargo, sometimes at short notice, Linde has agreed as part of its contract to supply any specialist equipment or attachment that might be required. Although the Port of Sheerness is not a major container port, there is some requirement to move containers so Medway has purchased a second Linde Reach Stacker to meet the current volume of ISO containers moving through the port.

Bill Windsor, engineering manager at Medway Ports says: “Reliable and responsive service support is absolutely vital so we needed to work with an organisation who could provide us with the quality levels and commitment we required.”

This is the second contract that Medway Ports has awarded to Linde – the first consisted of 65 fork lift trucks and the creation of a fully equipped workshop for on-site maintenance and repair.

The new contract will see the on-site workshop treble in size and the shifts increase to cover seven days a week with 11 Linde staff managing the maintenance of the equipment, changing attachments and allocating fork lift trucks to operators. This requires precise scheduling to ensure that the right handling equipment meets the ships at the right time and with the right attachments to handle the cargo.

Linde consolidated the existing handling equipment with the new fleet, which provides optimum reliability as well as the latest in ergonomic comfort and high performance. As part of the new contract, Medway Ports also needed a solution which would enable it to cope with surges in cargo volumes. Inevitably at times, several ships will arrive in port simultaneously, which can cause bottlenecks.

The Linde solution for these peak demand periods was to offer the flexibility of providing part of the new fleet on a pay-as-you-use basis enabling Medway Ports to have immediate access to trucks only when required. These trucks are painted in a vivid yellow so that the port managers can easily identify these units from the core fleet.

The H 50 and H 80 diesel trucks transfer paper reels through the stores for onward shipping using ‘intelligent’ reel clamp attachments. These clamps automatically grip the paper with the precise amount of pressure required without causing damage.

The clamps rotate for maximum flexibility. Windsor says: “The intelligent clamps are exactly what we needed for handling the reels – they give our customers the assurance that we will be looking after their valuable paper reels with the utmost care.” Other attachments purchased include double reel clamps and extra large clamps to handle bales of pulp.

“Service is vital to our business and we have been very impressed with David and Steve’s dedication to this contract. The comprehensive resources and reputation of Linde gave us confidence and we have been very pleased with the results,” says Windsor.

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