The Bristol Port Co has taken delivery of two 6-tonne Combilift 4-way fork lifts after winning a new contract with a key North American timber company for undercover storage at its Royal Portbury Dock.

The increased volume of timber meant the port needed to improve storage density in existing sheds and it opted for the Combilift to optimise space and increase operational flexibility. The trucks were supplied in Bristol Port’s colours.

The new fork lifts, which replace counterbalance trucks, work in a section of the recently expanded Forest Products Terminal which offers 100,000m² of warehousing adjacent to berths.

“Since we started this contract we have had to adapt to a much larger workload,” said development engineer Paul Osborne, “but to maintain flexibility we didn’t want to install racking across the designated 10,000m² storage area. We therefore kept the block stacking system but needed to reduce aisle widths to create maximum storage space. The Combilifts’ 4-way ability enables them to work in narrow confines as well as to block stack and we can now accommodate 30% more.”

Aisle widths are now 4m rather than the 7m needed for a counterbalance operation. “We could have narrowed this further,” said Mr Osborne, “but the space allotted allows for easy and speedy handling with minimum risk of product damage. Travelling sideways with long loads resting on the platform offers much better visibility for drivers and is much safer than reversing a counterbalance truck. The generous 6-tonne capacity and the 6m triple mast also mean we’re not restricted to this particular application should we have the need to handle other products.”

• At this year’s Fork Lift Truck Association Awards Combilift won the Innovation category for the second year running for its Rough Terrain RT fork lift. Its Combi-CB model also scooped the first Victor Ludorum prize, a special award chosen from every winning entry in the Environment, Ergonomics, Safety and Innovation categories in the awards’ 18-year history.