Timbmet’s Stanford in the Vale site has 19 Combilifts.
Combilift specially designed a C5000 with a higher cab for Timbmet.
Howarth uses a C4000 to carry its entire range of products.
Combilift’s new Combi-CB is proving popular.

If there were a prize for a company operating the widest variety of Combilift models under one roof, it would probably go to Timbmet’s Stanford in the Vale site, where 19 LPG-powered Combilifts are in use.

The 200,000ft² depot opened at the beginning of 2008 and, as operations director Philip Trueman had experience of Combilifts at other Timbmet sites, he knew that the four-way fork lifts would handle the range of hardwoods, timber, sheet materials, flooring and other assorted products stored in the warehouses.

The fleet comprises 11 five-tonne trucks, 10 of which have a raised cab, three Combi-CBs, three C3500 models, and two TeleCombis, fitted with a telescopic boom. Common to all, said Mr Trueman, are flexibility, speed of operation and the ability to allow Timbmet to maximise stock density by operating in narrow aisles.


Timbmet was one of the first companies to use Combilift’s latest product, the Combi-CB – a compact four-way counterbalance truck, designed for palletised and longer materials. Fitted with integrated side shift, they come into their own when handling Timbmet’s short width packs of timber as well as longer length flooring. They also work inside containers, unloading around 10 a day, before taking goods to cantilever racking or the bulk store area. “The Combi-CBs have made all aspects of the offloading, storing and reloading procedure much quicker and easier,“ said Mr Trueman.

Due to the volume of product passing through the site, Mr Trueman was keen to find a way of speeding up the transport of large packs of timber without compromising on safety. Combilift engineers developed a C5000 with a higher than standard cab, providing drivers with a clear line of vision over a load of two packs of timber. With 35 HGVs to be loaded every day, this has been of major benefit. Two of the high cab trucks are also fitted with telescopic forks for more stable handling of sheet materials with a depth of 2.1m. The Combilifts’ four-way ability also allows block stacking, which would not be possible with a conventional sideloader.

The 3.5-tonne capacity C3500 Combilifts work in the picking area, and the TeleCombi models are used primarily for offloading continental tilt trailers. As the truck’s boom can reach across the bed of the truck, it can offload the complete consignment from one side.

The multi-role benefits of the Combilift also met diverse roles for Howarth Timber & Building Supplies which recently bought one to replace a conventional sideloader at its Rochdale branch.

“We need a versatile fork lift capable of handling various loads, from light pallets of insulation material to 6m-long, 3.5-tonne packs of timber,” said general manager Paul Barton. “This is also a very busy site and the Combilift’s manoeuvrability and ease of use enable operatives to locate and load orders quickly.”

Increased storage

The machine has enabled the branch to accommodate more stock per square metre as the low platform height of the diesel-powered C4000 has freed up extra space near the base of the cantilever racking. Also, as Combilifts can turn on their axis, space previously needed for manoeuvring is now used to store more products.

The site has been operational since February 2008, and was taken over from a company dealing purely in timber. As the change to mixed stock required a rethink of storage configurations, Howarth took advantage of Combilift’s free warehouse layout service. Combilift supplied detailed drawings advising, in this case, on guided aisle operation in parts of the yard as well as in the various undercover storage areas. This has enabled aisle widths to be reduced to the minimum,

Howarth’s truck has been fitted with hydraulic fork positioners, which are operated from inside the cab. According to driver Stuart Darcy, these are particularly useful when dealing with mixed sizes of loads. “I can put a pallet into racking, and then reposition the forks to pick up a long load of plasterboard or doors without leaving the cab,” he said.

Demand for versatility

Combilift managing director Martin McVicar said this demand for versatility is a growing trend. “Customers are looking at their overall fork lift truck use and how they can reduce their fleet by using combination trucks to do more than one job,” he said.

Sales of the Combi-CB have been going particularly well, he added. “Using just one truck is an economical solution, particularly when you factor in the extra overheads for maintenance, insurance and training incurred when using multiple types of fork lifts.”