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Hyster trucks handle special containers

09 August 2023

THE FORKLIFTS are supporting various global applications at ELA Container, which provides specially equipped containers for use as office building, schools, storerooms, and more.

ELA, which is headquartered in Haren an der Ems, Germany, has relied on Hyster forklifts since 2001. What began with the purchase of one heavy-duty truck is now a fleet of 65 vehicles in 21 variants, covering a wide variety of tasks in ELA’s depots worldwide.

The company started converting sea containers for use as secure storage for tools on construction sites. Today, the company has grown to 1200 employees at 20 locations which help develop containers into rooms or entire buildings. The units can be delivered in the desired size, fully equipped, and as a rental or purchase option.

Containers are often used multiple times in their lifetime. For example, a classroom, may then become a storeroom, office, or even a doctor's surgery. In most cases, the containers are intended as a temporary solution.

When containers return to ELA for re-use, the company reconditions them for their next use. During the reconditioning process, Hyster industrial trucks handle containers and other materials.

"Even a normal sea container has to be handled with great care, depending on the load," says Holger Schwenen, fleet manager at ELA. "With our special containers, accuracy is even more important.”

Transporting containers and accessories between the outdoor area and the inside operation is the job of Hyster Big Trucks - diesel-powered heavy-duty H16XD-6 and H16XM-6 forklifts.

Hyster delivered a spreader that can grip the container corners accurately. This allows the trucks to pick up containers from 5,015 to 10,000 mm wide and 2,500 to 3,000 mm deep. Cameras and sensors help with the exact positioning of the grippers, helping to save time. In addition, the forklift operator can immediately see whether the container is correctly securely connected to the spreader.

In the newer generation lift truck, a CAN bus system processes the data from the cameras and sensors. This makes it possible to precisely grip and transport the containers without damaging the side walls, where supply lines for water and electricity are installed.

In addition, special protection made of plastic panels prevents the sensitive surfaces of the containers from being scratched on the top and bottom.

Large loads, such as staircases, platforms or underlay material, on which the containers stand on site, can also be handled securely on the forks of the Hyster big trucks.

During reconditioning, the containers pass through various stages. First, they go to the cleaning station, then to the furnishings station or assembly station. For example, if walls have to be moved or windows enlarged for the next job. At the end is the hygiene and electrical testing station.

Hyster trucks transport loads such as frames, floors, walls, or other components from indoor and outdoor warehouses. For smaller loads, Hyster S1.6S pedestrian stackers are used. For loads above 1.6 tonnes, compact, maneuverable J series electric lift trucks are often used. Depending on the application, IC forklifts may also be selected.

"Electric lift trucks are optimal when the driver rarely changes," says Holger Schwenen, explaining his concept. "For operations with frequent interruptions, IC lift trucks currently performs better for us."

The forklifts, stackers, and heavy-duty lift trucks distributed across all sites form a fleet of 65 vehicles. The oldest equipment in the fleet have been in use for more than 20 years. Together, the trucks cover a total area of 650,000 m² and achieve an annual mileage of up to 1,500 operating hours.

"At present, we obtain all our forklifts from Hyster," explains Holger Schwenen, for whom, for example, the smooth and quiet running of the equipment is a key factor. This is important because many employees spend the majority of their working time on the forklift. In addition to comfort and ease of operation, safety is another crucial factor.

"There is excellent all-round visibility," he says. "That plays a key role in preventing accidents."

On an operational level, vehicle reliability is among the top criteria. "Nobody can afford long periods of downtime because a spare part is missing for repairs anymore," Schwenen says, at the same time praising the service provided by Hyster dealer Agravis. "Whether it's a repair or an order, we can rely on prompt processing."