Shipping & Shipbuilding News -  05 February 2009- The Brightest Maritime Daily

Poor container truck buying cost ports dear
by Special Correspondent Bill Redmond...

Each year container ports throw away fortunes because they ignore container handling forklift ownership (life cycle) costs, implies David Cooper, MD of Warwick-based Cooper Specialised Handling. The problem is also rife in other forklift markets, like articulated forklifts, which sometimes can deliver instant truck payback but are ignored because truck selectors are fixated with initial truck costs. This is the heavy price that industry pays for using bean counters without an engineering background.

Cooper is a relatively new name in UK port handling, although they have been selling reach stackers since 1998. Last year they brought together Konecranes’ range of SMV reach stackers, Bauman side loaders, Dan forklifts and Mafi (ro-ro tugs/trailers), making it Britain’s largest, independent and exclusive supplier of those brands.

A good example of how emphasis placed on ownership costs can justify higher initial truck costs is Bristol Port’s new five-year contract with Cooper to supply and manage four 45-tonne Konecranes reach stackers. Improved servicing standards and lifetime costs considerations were paramount in the final decision, says Bristol Port. The contract also hinged on bespoke modifications and fitting an Eco Drive system to manage fuel consumption.

Cooper prefers Scania engines because unlike their competitors their load sensing piston pumps give hydraulic flow only on demand. This cuts fuel consumption by between 15% and 30% and extends component life. The Auto Transit function, governing container positioning, is another innovation that cuts maintenance costs. If a load is too far back it causes excessive steer axle load and greater tyre wear. If the load is too far forward, the machine nods. Not only does this low maintenance technology save up to 34% on servicing it also means a safer and more productive operation.

So how much does Bristol Port expect to save from these technical devices compared with the lower initial truck costs they considered from competitors? A Konecranes’ reach stacker at £285,000 could cost up to 12% more than its cheapest rival. However, based on 12,000 operating hours, the Kone machine would save £85,000 on fuel and £16,000 on maintenance. Cooper also claims that residual values would be 35% compared with only 20% from the cheapest rival. Put another way, the true cost of total ownership would be 14% more for Kone’s nearest rival on initial truck cost and 34% more for others. Bristol Port, therefore, expects to save £90,000 a year.

There is no doubt, says David Cooper, that truck uptime is what concerns port operators most. In this respect its GSM technology ensures that engineers can remotely diagnose faults to help minimise downtime, whilst ports can utilise this for data capture, allowing machine performance to be measured.

The reach stacker in the UK ports market may only be worth about 20 trucks a year, says David Cooper, but there is no doubt that they will continue to supplant the masted type container lifters which use top or side attachments or just forks for bottom lift. This is because the reach stacker has much greater flexibility in terms of container rotation and second row stacking, typically raising storage density capacity by 25%.

Given the tough markets all global ports are experiencing it is now more imperative than ever for port operators to abandon their fixation with initial truck costs and place greater emphasis on total life cycle or ownership costs.

About Bill Redmond...

Bill Redmond's speciality lies in logistics. He was an editor on Materials

Handling News from 1979-1993, and editor of the quarterly, Mass Handling,

after which he set up his own business, Logistics Editorial Services.

During the last 15 years he has written features for many logistics journals.

He says his experience has given him some insight into bulk ships' cargo

handling techniques, on which he wrote for journals like Middle East Technical

Review and Asian Review of Business & Technology.

In 1995 he co-authored the book, Logistics Management, published by Croner, London.


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