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19Jun/170

Rough Terrain Forklifts – Extend Your Manufacturing Facility Organization With a Previously Owned Rough Terrain Forklift Purchase.

Rough-terrain equipment consistently play an important role in materials handling and Melissa Barnett studies a number of the issues surrounding the rough and ready vehicles.

The most significant issues facing all manufacturers is tightening environmental regulations, with US authorities this coming year rolling out your final phase of Tier 4 regulations for engines between 75 and 175 HP.

In line with the Usa Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), off-road engines are responsible for the emission of 47% of particulate matter (PM) and 25% of Nitrogen oxides (NOx) coming from all mobile sources. Particulate matter is minute particles of carbon along with other poisonous substances created if not all fuel is burned during combustion. NOx - commonly nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen oxide - may also be produced during combustion.

Machinery exhaust, particularly diesel, contains both PM and NOx, along with other poisonous substances. Tier 4 regulations, by numerous means, aim to lessen the production of these by-products, thereby significantly reducing the volume of emissions-related health problems. The EPA believes that a reduction in these emissions will, by 2030, bring about an estimated decrease in 12,000 premature deaths, 8,900 hospitalisations and one million lost work days all over the USA.

But exactly how has it affected the rough-terrain forklift market? Most manufacturers have embraced the engine and chassis changes that have been expected to comply with the regulations. Guido Cameli, sales manager for Canadian manufacturer Manitex Liftking, says that although major investment was required, Liftking saw the adjustments in regulations as an opportunity. "Achieving Tier 4 directives required extensive vehicle redesign and new technology for example advanced cooling, exhaust and treatment systems. Packaging of these new systems has allowed us the ability to improve other facets of our vehicles, for example sight-lines and maintenance access," he explains.

Xavier Perramon, products strategy manager for Spanish manufacturer AUSA, notes that considerable financial investment was needed to meet Tier 4 standards. This current year, AUSA will launch its 4-5 T selection of rough-terrain and semi-industrial forklifts with 56kW Deutz engines fitted with Diesel Oxidation Catalysts (DOC). The engines not only meet Tier 4 requirements, but anticipate the mandatory 2017 normative.

Italian telehandler manufacturer Merlo’s Uliano Bellesia says that new Tier 4 engine adaptations and subsequent testing were expensive and time-consuming. Changes mainly affected Merlo’s 55 kW to 130 kW telehandler range. Above 130 kW, only the ROTO (slewing turret) telehandlers required modification - these have already been fitted by using a selective catalyst system (SCT) which meets Tier 4 standards.

Spanish manufacturer Bomaq has redesigned equipment parts and integrated an extra postfilter burner to the rough-terrain machines. Managing director Antonio Martinez states that an additional issue arising from Tier 4 requirements is the use of electronics from the engines. "Up to now, we have now used mechanical systems for fuel injection, but to attain the required new quantities of regulation, utilization of electronics will be compulsory," he explains.

There are additional issues, as Richard Rich, wholesale manager of America-based dealer H&K equipment, points out. Rich says that from your sales perspective, Tier 4 implementation is causing a lot of problems, at the very least in the USA, that most of his customers are attempting to purchase anything they are able to that is still Tier 3-rated. "I actually have not seen an individual company change over or update yet," he says. Rich identifies several impediments including the necessity to use ultra-low sulphur fuel when many companies continue to have huge reserves of diesel onsite, additional maintenance issues like managing an extra fluid compartment for urea and the use of specific engine oils which people are not used to yet. An intriguing outcome of this reluctance to acquire Tier 4 equipment, Rich says, is that companies have improved the standard of their in-house services to maintain existing equipment running as long as possible. Despite his reservations, Rich recognizes that Tier 4 has arrived to remain and in the end companies will adapt - however the process is going to take a few years.

Many in the industry are involved about the inevitable purchase price increases because of engine re-designs and upgrades. Rich says the requirements could add USD 8,000 to USD 12,000 towards the price. Cameli, however, believes that any price hike is more than offset by operational savings. "Yes, our Tier 4 forklifts are inherently more pricey than our Tier 3 variants (nevertheless the difference could be more than offset by lower overall operating costs such as around 5% better fuel efficiency and extended service intervals). The operator will notice improved engine response, with the chance of increased productivity. Additional benefits are quieter operation and greatly reduced emissions," Cameli explains.

Bellesia says initial feedback on Tier 4 engine performance continues to be positive, but Merlo has already established to mitigate price rises with offers of extra options. The business strategically timed the release of their new telehandler range to ensure that increased prices could be cushioned by the novelty newest operational systems and options.

Pundits have already been killing from the used rough terrain forklift for many years. First, it absolutely was the introduction of telehandlers and now there is talk that the market has reached ‘maturity’. Figures from the Industrial Truck Association for class 4/5 (class 7 figures unavailable) for 2013 US shipments show sales of 66,473 units - up from 58,483 this year.

Martinez says the marketplace is tough to calculate, but believes rough-terrain forklifts have developed their particular niche and definately will expand for some other applications if manufacturers take notice of the needs of users. He says the main markets for Bomaq continue being in mining, agriculture as well as the military.

AUSA specialises in rough-terrain forklifts for agriculture, especially in the fruit and vegetable sector in which there is high demand for rough-terrain forklifts within the lighter, more compact 3T (6,000 lb.) two-wheel-drive range. Perramon states that globalisation has produced ‘new rooms’ in countries in order to develop new markets. AUSA is keen to grow to the US and Eurasian horticultural sectors. He adds that AUSA’s semi-industrial models, based upon a rough-terrain chassis - but more compact, with higher diameter wheels and increased ground clearance - are gaining popularity in wood recycling, metal foundries and outdoor warehouse operations. These machines offer added value when the forklift has got to push and pull pallets during loading/unloading of trucks.

Bellesia believes the telehandlers’ versatility has protected them from the market changes. "In Europe, Canada and Australia, Merlo sells mainly into the agricultural sector. In the us, this is the construction sector. The balance in between the two sectors is our strong point. At the moment, sales are in accordance with the expected trend, " he says.

Cameli agrees the current market is mature, but says this is just what causes it to be a strong and growing field as customers realise the machine’s value and gratifaction in rough terrains. Features like a tight turning radius, compact length, simplicity of design, simplicity of maintenance and overall cost mean that the rough-terrain market is growing. Cameli says new markets in construction, lumber, oil and gas and concrete industries are continually emerging, along with new geographical markets including Peru and Columbia, where the expense of labour has increased and greater productivity is required within the burgeoning mining and infrastructure sectors.

Rich states that sales of rough-terrain forklifts and telehandlers, especially in the 5-6 T (12,000 lb.) range, have already been slow and believes that things won’t improve with the development of Tier 4 compliant machines. "Some rough-terrain forklift manufacturers have previously informed us that they are not having enough their allocations of Tier 3 engines and are only able to offer Tier 4 when April, 2015," he says. Rich believes the expense of the new machines will negatively affect sales.

However, the rough-terrain rental market continues to be really good, Rich adds. "Rough-terrain forklifts and telehandlers are being used a great deal inside the construction and drilling industries, each of which rely heavily on rentals; so basically we don’t see any new markets coming online, the rental demand is increasing." The problem, he says, is to keep H&K’s flow of rough-terrain forklifts high enough to satisfy demand.

Roll-overs and tip-overs are an occupational hazard for rough-terrain forklifts and telehandlers. Uneven ground, slopes, dips, mud and unbalanced loads are definitely the main dangers, but Luc Pirard, CEO for Belgian company Comatra, strongly believes that uneven tyre pressures really are a hidden cause of many roll-overs. "We feel that this kind of incident occurs far more often than acknowledged," he says. The Safety and health Executive from the UK, the development Plant-Hire Association of the UK along with the Telescopic Handler Association of Australia have all acknowledged that also a minimal 5% drop in tyre pressure is able to reduce stability and safe lifting capacity by approximately 30%. "Because tyres deflect and distort under load, these people have a significant impact on stability and load-carrying ability," Pirard explains.

Comatra specialises in safety products for your materials handling industry and possesses designed a unique internal valve-mounted sensor system to observe tyre pressure in rough-terrain forklifts and telehandlers. "Most rough-terrain forklifts and telehandlers are fitted with pneumatic tyres while they provide much better flotation on soft ground. The disadvantage, however, is a pneumatic tyre can easily be damaged or punctured. One of the most critical situation can be a flat or under-inflated tyre having a load within the air - altering the forklift or telehandler’s stability and resulting in a possibly fatal tip-over." Comatra’s pre-programmed sensors are mounted behind the rim, resistant to dirt and other corrosive materials, along with a monitor is fitted inside of the cab. If the forklift/telehandler is excited, tyre pressure is measured in less than one minute. The kit can be easily fitted by a highly skilled tyre-fitter.

Whilst pneumatic tyres are definitely the preferred option for most rough-terrain forklifts, in recent years alternatives have already been developed. Chinese-based tyre manufacturer IST (Industrial Solid Tyres) Company has released a good tyre for rough-terrain vehicles. Brine Jiang, spokesman for IST, recommends OTR giant solid tyres for rough-terrain forklifts, particularly to the construction and mining sector, as they feature better puncture resistance than pneumatic tyres, 76dexmpky traction on difficult terrain, and stability under heavy loads. Solid tyres have better low-rolling resistance which, consequently, will deliver less tyre wear, less heat build-up throughout the tyre and improved fuel consumption.

AUSA has created numerous security features which it says are only at its machines. AUSA’s High Visibility System (HVS) allows operators an unrestricted view both forward as well as in reverse while carrying a full load as a result of two infrared cameras mounted on the top of the cabin along with a colour TFT monitor inside the cabin. The infrared cameras enable the operator to continue working safely in really low light. AUSA’s FullGrip Product is a joystick control that allows the operator to engage/disengage four-wheel-drive while in motion on the press of a button.

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