Hereford materials handling equipment consultant HFT Forklifts Ltd has supplied one of the world’s largest 4-directional forklift trucks to a Gloucestershire company specialising in the design and production of hi-tech modular buildings.
The £0.25 million, 25 tonne C25000 forklift was designed and built by Combilift in Monaghan, Ireland, for HFT’s customer BladeRoom. The machine was specially built for the job of lifting and manoeuvring 18-tonne modular data centres, which are built by BladeRoom at its new Cinderford, Gloucs production facility.
The data centres, which measure around 14 by 4.2 metres and house banks of computer servers and IT equipment, are manufactured under exacting conditions in modular form to provide an energy-efficient, fully fitted out ‘plug and play’ solution for BladeRoom’s customers. Key to the manufacturing process was a watertight handling system at Cinderford, and it quickly became apparent that conventional materials handling vehicles would simply not be up to the job of moving the huge finished modules around the site.
BladeRoom’s CEO Paul Rogers called in HFT Forklifts – based at Rotherwas in Hereford – to advise on a solution. HFT’s Senior Account Manager, Kevin Heath soon realised that a completely new approach was required.
"BladeRoom was already getting good service from the 12 and 4 tonne 4-way Combilift trucks it was already using so it seemed logical to work with Combilift to devise a much larger solution for the data centres," he said.
"We looked at other options like overhead gantry cranes and large counterbalanced trucks but they would have been inflexible and impractical for the building and take up too much room. The versatility of 4-directional trucks was ideal, but there was nothing on the market that could have handled a job of this size."
HFT called in Combilift’s regional distributor, Abex Ltd of Birmingham, and a four-way partnership was established together with BladeRoom and the designers at Combilift in Ireland to develop the perfect solution. The team believes the result may be the largest 4-directional diesel-powered truck ever built, although there are bigger electric trucks. It’s certainly the largest truck HFT has ever supplied and, at a cost of £0.25 million, the most expensive one, too.
BladeRoom’s Paul Rogers says that the truck – which measures 5m x 5m with a 3.2m high cab – will easily lift the fully fitted modules into place for pre-delivery testing. The manufacturing area can be laid out more efficiently, with modules placed in rows allowing the C25000 to travel sideways along the aisles between them, and they can be double stacked, thanks to the machine’s 4m lift height.
"The ideal solution from our point of view was a machine that could move modules in the same way as we move pallets – but on a much larger scale," he said. "And thanks to the excellent customer service from HFT, Abex and Combilift, that’s exactly what we will have achieved.
"The Combilift’s flexibility to ‘go anywhere and do anything’ means we can proceed at the pace we need to fulfil our orders and cope with future growth."