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Real Journeys forklift operator Jennifer Jamieson with their new Crown forklift at Oban on Stewart Island – the machine is a critical piece of equipment and provides an important connection between the island and mainland

Crown secures 100% of the MHE market on Stewart Island

Crown has delivered a 3.5 tonne forklift to tourism operator Real Journeys at their Oban office on Stewart Island – a delivery that was fraught with logistical challenges and a contract requiring some ‘out of the box’ thinking for ongoing servicing and maintenance.

Lying 30 km to the south of the South Island across the notoriously wild Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island offers stunning scenery, tranquil beaches and unspoilt wilderness – hardly the home for a brand-new piece of materials handling equipment. It is, however, the destination of choice for tourists seeking a very special Kiwi experience, and one of the leading operators on the island is Real Journeys. 

Founded in 1954, Real Journeys offers tourism experiences from Stewart Island to Queenstown. Its office in Oban on Stewart Island doubles as the local depot for freight, and in 2018, with the island’s only forklift at the end of its economic life, Brendan Soper, Real Journeys’ manager of fleet engineering, was tasked with supplying a replacement.

Based in Te Anau, Brendan was not directly involved with the operation of the forklift, but he knew it would need to meet certain key requirements for operating on the island. In November that year, he phoned Crown for a quote.

An island forklift

The requirements of a forklift on Stewart Island are diverse. Not only is it used to load and unload the passenger and freight ferries, it can also be regularly seen delivering goods around the township of Oban. The forklift is a critical piece of equipment and provides an important connection between the island and mainland. 

Reliability and mechanical support are of the utmost importance, and while the local garage could carry out some maintenance, Real Journeys needed reassurance that the successful forklift provider could supply parts and/or expertise if needed. 

Given the logistical challenge of the location, Real Journeys and Crown worked on a solution whereby Real Journeys would store some filters and oils onsite so they could carry out their own regular servicing, then every 12 months, a Crown field service technician would make the journey on the ferry down to Stewart Island to complete a WOF and full forklift safety check. 

A further challenge for the forklift was the need to handle at times the very heavy waste bins that regularly weigh over 3 tonnes. Prior to Crown’s involvement, Brendan made a visit to Bluff to investigate the application and contacted Northern Southland Transport Holdings (NSTH) to obtain the records of bin weights for the past 12 months to ensure the Crown solution was safe and capable of getting the job done. 

Added to the above was the need for a solution that could combat the sometimes bitterly cold weather that Stewart Island can endure, together with a corrosive sea air environment. A full cab with heater was the perfect answer for this and Crown’s virtually maintenance-free oil-cooled disc brakes would eliminate any outside contaminants.

The right solution

Crown came up with the right solution – a CD35C-FFT4380, part of the CD Series of diesel-powered counterbalanced forklifts. However, they needed buy-in from the operators on the island that Crown was the best solution. Demonstrating a unit on the island wasn’t practical, therefore a demonstration was arranged at a Crown customer’s site in Invercargill. Crown met with a representative of Real Journeys and presented the 3.5 tonne unit which was met with approval. On 13 May this year, six months after first contacting Crown, Brendan approved the order for the new Crown machine.  

Delivery of the forklift to Stewart Island was a further challenge. The total weight of the forklift is 4800 kg which exceeded the lifting capacity of the crane on the freight vessel that travels between Bluff and Oban twice weekly, so the counterweight had to be removed.

Crown’s Dunedin team of Shane Turner, Kenneth Sandilands and Jason Ryan travelled to Stewart Island on 15 August to refit the counterweight, commission the forklift and provide operator training to the team on the island. 

“The process from start to finish highlighted the importance of gathering all relevant data to ensure the best and safest recommendation was provided,” says Shane Turner, who manages Crown’s fleet sales in the South Island. “The bin weights were a key part of the final recommendation, but also determining the forklift’s operating environment and Crown’s ability to offer support post-sale were key factors in the eventual sale.”

Crown Equipment New Zealand managing director Kieran White says they are incredibly proud of their team in the south and their determination to deliver 100% customer satisfaction.

For further information, visit www.crown.com

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