Manufacturers improve products during down time
By Peter A. Buxbaum, AJOT
Not surprisingly, the global recession which depressed the numbers of containers being shipped in international trade, has also had a negative effect on the businesses of port equipment manufacturers.
But that has not stopped several of enterprising companies from enhancing their products and even expanding their product lines during these trying times. Companies like the Hyster Company, Konecranes Lifttrucks, and Taylor Machine Works are betting that by investing in the development of their product portfolio, they will be able to emerge stronger once the clouds of the economic slowdown disperse.
Hyster Company, a subsidiary of the Cleveland-based NACCO Industries, has unveiled a number of developments in its container stacking series of products, including a new product which allows containers to be stacked six high thanks to a longer telescopic boom. The company has also introduced a new drive axle on its empty container handlers which it promises will Hyster describes as a major breakthrough by significantly reducing tire wear and the costs associated with it. Hyster has manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Konecranes, a lift truck manufacturer headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, has enhanced the features of its line of heavy forklifts of 28 ton or greater capacity. The vehicles now offer the driver greater visibility, especially in the rear. The cabin has also been equipped with a color display and electronic monitoring control. The newly introduced Eco-Drive measurement system records truck and operator performance. There is also several new safety features including a tire pressure sensor.
Taylor Machine Works, based in Louisville, Miss., has introduced a new product, the TS-9972, which is able to stack containers higher and is able to handle more weight.
Hyster has introduced a six-high stacking option for its RS45-31CH, RS46-36CH and RS46-41CH reach stacker container handling models by fitting them with a longer inner boom. The reach stackers can stack 8’6” containers six-high in the first container row.
“For the first time, Hyster ReachStacker models can stack 8’6” height containers 6 high, in the first container row only,” said Antoon Cooijmans, Big Trucks Product Manager for Hyster Europe.
Hyster’s ReachStacker product line is available in both container handling and intermodal handling versions and is designed for high density container stacking applications, usually up to five high and three rows deep.
Cooijmans added that a key development in Hyster’s product line is the new drive axle on its empty container handlers which he described as a “major breakthrough for Hyster and the container handling industry”. “This important new development significantly reduces tire wear and the cost for empty container handling operations,” he added. “No other forklift manufacturer has access to this technology in Europe at present.”
Hyster Europe currently offers AxleTech International’s Xtended Tire Life (XTL) drive axle on its H16.00-22.00XM-12EC empty container handler series.
“Tire changes on large container handlers are not only costly, but can be time-consuming too as the truck usually has to return to the workshop,” said Cooijmans. “Fewer tire changes mean less downtime, plus less rubber waste means a better environmental footprint.”
The XTL axle has the differential mounted in the wheel ends at each side, enabling the wheels to rotate independently and reducing tire wear.
Cooijmans estimated that the new XTL drive axle could reduce tire wear by a factor of three on the front drive axle tires and 1.5 for the rear steer axle tires. “The axle also provides easier handling and turning maneuverability,” he said. “The introduction of the XTL is the result of a seven year product development program.”
Besides the XTL axle developments, Hyster has also introduced a new ‘lay-back’ mast opti