<< previous story  |  next story: Site of new freight hub revealed >>

The Combi-WR4 pedestrian reach stacker combines multi-directional travel with a pantograph reach

Combilift marks Forklift Safety Day with emphasis on safer materials handling

National Forklift Safety Day – an initiative to promote a safer working environment for all those who work with, on, or near forklift trucks – is marked in the UK, North America and Australia in June, and Irish manufacturer Combilift is proud to be involved.

Since Combilift was established, a cornerstone of the company’s design philosophy has been to supply innovative materials handling solutions that reduce risk and prevent accidents. As well as enabling space saving and productive handling of loads of various sizes and dimensions, more secure and safer handling is cited by many customers as the reason why they opted for a Combilift product over other types of forklifts. 

The company’s commitment to safety has also been recognised by industry associations such as the UK’s Forklift Truck Association (FLTA) and British Industrial Truck Association (BITA), from whom they have received multiple safety awards for their models, or features that have been developed and incorporated into their products. 

In this article, we take a look at just a few of their models that contribute to enhanced safety procedures in warehouses and production facilities, and for loading and offloading materials.

Walk your way to safer handling 

Combilift’s reputation for designing innovative products and features which enhance materials handling safety was recognised last year when it won the industrial vehicles category of the BITA Design4Safety Awards. This was for its unique, patented multi-position tiller arm – a feature common to all its pedestrian models. 

The tiller arm was designed to ensure maximum safety for the operator and other personnel who may be in the area where the trucks are operating, whilst enabling productive picking and placing of products in narrow aisles. The tiller arm can be turned to the left or right of the truck, and enables push-button rotation of the rear wheel parallel to the chassis and back again. 

The Combi-PPT powered pallet truck – its multi-position tiller arm allows the operator to remain at the side of the truck

It allows the operator to remain in the safest possible position when working in narrow aisles – at the side of the truck, rather than at the rear, as is the case with other pedestrian trucks. This reduces the risk of the operator being crushed or trapped between the truck and the racking. The operator’s sight line is not impeded by having to look through the mast, guaranteeing full visibility of the load, the forks and the surroundings, for greater awareness and therefore safety, not only for the operator, but also for any other personnel or members of the public nearby. 

The tiller arm also incorporates a monitor which clearly displays the rear wheel position on Combilift’s growing range of pedestrian models, such as the multi-directional Combi-WR4, the Combi-CS counterbalance stacker (which this year won a prestigious IFOY Award) and the Combi-PPT powered pallet truck.

Safer long load handling

Handling long loads can be a headache – and a potentially dangerous one. Manoeuvring long packs of steel, timber or aluminium, for example, in busy manufacturing facilities, through access doors and around obstacles, can pose all sorts of risks. 

Instead of relying on trucks with limited manoeuvrability, specialised machines in the form of Combilift’s multi-directional models are the solution. Designed specifically for the challenges of long and bulky loads, they combine the advantages of a counterbalance forklift, sideloader and narrow aisle truck in one machine to ensure safe, space-saving and efficient handling. 

The Combi C-Series was the original multi-directional forklift and combines a sideloader, counterbalance and narrow aisle forklift

The very low centre of gravity and integrated platform provide a stable, low-level base for resting loads on during transportation, and with the cab mounted to the side of the mast, the operator has a clear view of the load. Four-way ability enables quick change of the wheel direction to enable sideways travel in confined spaces or though doorways. 

Thousands of companies have ditched their conventional counterbalance fleets and replaced these with multi-directional C-Series trucks and Combi-CB compact four-way counterbalance design models. 

Safer reach stacking

Safety was the impetus for the development of Combilift’s first pedestrian model, the Combi-WR reach stacker. This was quickly followed by the launch of its four-way counterpart, the Combi-WR4 – the first purpose-built pedestrian reach stacker that combines multi-directional travel with features such as a pantograph reach, side shift and tilting fork carriage for handling long loads and pallets.

It is the only truck of its kind able to work in aisle widths of 2.1 m pallet to pallet, and its excellent ergonomics, which enhance health and safety for the operator, earned it an FLTA award a few years ago. 

Replacing ride-on forklifts with pedestrian models when possible is an acknowledged way of reducing risks to other employees or the general public who may be in the vicinity, so it comes as no surprise that major DIY chains were amongst the first to welcome the Combi-WR4 to their handling fleet. 

Pedestrian trucks naturally operate at slower speeds compared to motorised ride-on forklifts, and operators have a heightened awareness of their immediate environment, as well as good all-round visibility of the load and the forks. 

Large load handling

Any company that handles large loads of concrete or structural steel, for example, will be familiar with the risks that are posed when loading trailers with product ready to be sent out to customers. This can often involve the need for working at height as personnel stand on the trailer to guide forklift drivers, or to sling hooks onto loads when using cranes. 

To eliminate these hazards, many are turning to Combilift’s Combi-SC range of straddle carriers, which allow full loads to be prepared at ground level. Once completed, the Combi-SC drives over the top of the load, picks it up in one lift and places it directly on the truck bed, ready to be secured for transportation. 

Lifting and manoeuvring even the heaviest and most cumbersome loads is no problem for the Combi-SC. Its optimum centre of gravity, broad wheelbase and exceptional three-wheel manoeuvrability ensure maximum load stability. The centrally-located, ground-accessible cab offers 360-degree visibility, the user interface is intuitive, and all functions can be carried out from within the cab without the need for operatives to work at height. 

The Combi-CBE was specifically designed to improve safety and help increase storage capacity, both indoors and outdoors

Avoid overloading with the Combilift Safe-Lift 

Overloaded vehicles can tip and fall, resulting not only in damage to vehicles and stock, but at worst can cause serious or fatal injuries to personnel. There are several factors that can influence a forklift truck to become overloaded and the load centre – the distance from the face of the forks to the centre of gravity of the load – plays a crucial part. 

Forklift operators who are insufficiently aware of their forklift’s load capacity and the risks that come with exceeding this not only compromise their own safety, but also place everyone working around them at serious risk. 

To make life easier – and safer – for forklift operators, the Combilift Safe-Lift was developed. This is an anti-overload device which enables drivers to avoid the pitfalls of potential overloading. It incorporates a strain sensor on the mast and a lift cut-out valve positioned on the mast hydraulic lift hose. There is an audible alarm which warns the operator of an overload situation, and an indicator unit is fitted to the dashboard in the cab. 

The operator can instantly see from the green, amber and red ‘traffic light’ signalling when there is a risk of overloading, or when the forks are not fully engaged, for example, and take appropriate action. Fitting this simple and cost-effective system to counterbalance trucks is an effective way to cut risks for the operators and other personnel, and also to avoid product damage as well as costly repairs.  

Loading containers 

Loading a container is labour intensive; it takes a long time and carries with it the risk of injury to operators, as well as damaged goods. Using a mechanised method reduces the need for manual handling and therefore increases safety. This was the impetus behind the development of the Combilift Container Slip-Sheet (Combi-CSS), which speeds up container loading whilst protecting the workforce. 

The 30,000 kg capacity Combi-CSS is a low, free-standing platform with a dual-directional hydraulic pulling mechanism, on which a steel sheet rests. A full load of product can be prepared on the sheet which is then guided into the container. A 20 ft container can be loaded in just three minutes and a 40 ft in just six minutes. 

When fully loaded, a hydraulic rear barrier gate swings across the container opening and is locked in place. This holds the material within the container while the metal sheet is slipped out from underneath it. 

A Combilift for all industries

From their powerful straddle carriers that can lift and move loads up to 125 tonnes to the most compact, pedestrian-operated forklifts, Combilift has applications in almost every industry. While long and awkward loads are Combilift’s speciality, they have developed adaptable technology that can fulfil all the needs of a business while reducing fleet size.

Lifting and manoeuvring even the heaviest and most cumbersome loads is no problem for the Combi-SC straddle carrier

For further information on any of the Combilift products, or to watch videos of them in action, visit www.combilift.com or call Dave Comber, Combilift’s New Zealand representative, on 021 310 353


Go Back