Customer: Steel Solutions
Industry: Steel Logistics
Location: Maastricht, The Netherlands
Customised Translifter makes heavy transport of steel more efficient and more sustainable
Always more efficient, more sustainable and smarter; That’s what it’s all about at Steel Solutions in Maastricht. The company is a full-service partner in the supply chain for steel. They coordinate the entire process that connects supply and demand. At the end of 2020, in close collaboration with Feyter Forklift Services, Steel Solutions completed the commissioning of a globally unique Movella Translifter to transport steel products between its terminals and the local partners. As a result, the logistics process has become significantly more efficient and more sustainable; The number of transport movements between the companies has been reduced by roughly 75%.
About Steel Solutions
Steel Solutions advises, organises and monitors the entire process that connects steel suppliers worldwide with steel processors and users in Europe. From transport to customs, tax representation, warehousing and value-added services.
The company is located in Beatrixhaven in Maastricht. Wibo Feijen, Director of Steel Solutions, explains how various steel companies bundle forces under the name Steelport Maastricht. ‘Very few know that the largest steel cluster of Western Europe is located here in Maastricht. Various steel companies are established here, with lots of movement between them. At the one service centre, they perform pickling of the steel, and at another, they cut it.’
Steel Solutions receives the steel at its terminals via road, water and train transport. There, they store the products until the client needs them. For processing, the steel products are transported to various partners, such as Tata Steel and Vogten Staal, in the port of Maastricht.
Reducing transport movements
To date, steel transport relied on lorries, where a maximum of roughly 25 tonnes could be transported per trip. With the Translifter, we can transport up to 100 tonnes per trip. The result: A more efficient process, a dramatic drop in CO2 emissions and a reduction in transport costs for all parties involved.
Wibo Feijen: ‘To us, innovation is only truly innovative when it also takes the planet into account. The Translifter transports about 100 tonnes at a time, which would normally require about 4 to 5 lorries. In other words, we achieve the same result, but with 25% of the movements.’
In 2018, Wibo Feijen concluded that the logistics between the terminal and partners in the port of Maastricht was in dire need of an efficiency boost. This aspiration led to the project that currently goes by the name of ‘Roadtrain’ at Steel Solutions: A custom-designed Movella Translifter in combination with a Terberg terminal tractor.
Wibo Feijen: ‘We made it our mission to become the best logistics partner for the worldwide steel industry. To achieve this, one must innovate continuously to improve efficiency for clients. With the Translifter, we succeeded. We lower the costs significantly and increase efficiency, which is entirely in line with our mission.’
On the Feyter Forklift Services Youtube channel you find a video that perfectly shows the concept of the Movella Translifter at Steel Solutions. Click on the link below to go directly to the video.
Cassettes ensure maximum efficiency
Besides the ability to safely and efficiently transport cargo of up to 100 tonnes, the addition of cassettes makes the Translifter solution even more efficient.
The coils and sheets of steel are not loaded directly onto the Translifter, but onto cassettes. The Translifter is equipped with a hydraulic lifting system to lift the cassettes, for transport from A to B.
‘The concept of the cassettes is a major advantage,’ explains Feijen. ‘It lowers the integral costs. Normally, you arrive at the client with the lorry and have to wait for the crane to show up. It takes a lot of time. Now, loading and unloading happen when it suits us. We wait for a sign from our partners, indicating when to switch the cassette. It’s a major advantage.’
The utilisation of roughly 60 cassettes means that the loading and unloading process is now separate from the transport. An inventory of cassettes is maintained at various locations. Independent of the Translifter’s availability, the various companies can load cassettes during the day and ‘buffer’ them for transport. The cassettes are transported at a quieter moment, often in the evening hours. This way, one eliminates the ineffective hours of operators having to wait during loading and unloading activities.
Custom-made to be allowed on public roads
The Translifter in use at Steel Solutions is very far from a ‘standard’ version of the product. To ensure that cargo weighing up to 100 tonnes could be transported using public roads, we had to set our sights beyond the beaten path.
Tigran van der Linden, Key Account Manager at Feyter Forklift Services, was involved with the project from the very start. ‘The initial request from Steel Solutions was to be able to transport as much tonnage as possible on the public roads. We could have seen this as a problem, but I prefer to see it as the perfect challenge. Here at Feyter Forklift Services, we like a good challenge. It’s in our DNA to solve problems and to help when a client needs something specific.
The standard concept for the Translifter was re-engineered to achieve a permissible, maximum axle load. The result is the first Translifter in the world with four co-steering bogeys, each equipped with two wheel axles. Therefore, the total weight is distributed over 8 axles and 32 wheels.
Feijen: ‘In 2018, I saw a Translifter in the port of Antwerp. Naturally, in an entirely different situation, but it seemed ideal. However, quite soon I realised that it would be very difficult to get a permit for use on public roads. That’s when I decided to contact Feyter Forklift Services. You must be very familiar with the laws and regulations if you want a combination like this to be roadworthy. It has become abundantly clear that Feyter knows and masters these laws and regulations. Feyter and Movella, together, coordinated the entire process immaculately, enabling us to adhere to the legal requirements with this fantastic modality.'
Not only the Translifter but also the Terberg Terminal Tractor was adapted. Under the surface, it was fitted with various technical provisions, like additional hydraulic functions and software, to make it compatible with the Movella Translifter.
When it comes to being allowed on public roads, there are more considerations than merely the axle load. Naturally, safety also plays a crucial role in this respect. One of the major issues was how to brake such a heavy transport load. ‘The City of Maastricht and the Police asked many, many questions regarding safety,’ says Feijen. ‘In the end, a truck like this, loaded with 100 tonnes, must be able to brake just as quickly as any other vehicle. Feyter and Movella, together, dealt with this exceptionally well, the result being the current concept.’
Tigran continues: ‘The trailer is fitted with sensors that monitor the weight of the loaded cassette, which also look at the combination’s stability. Depending on the cargo weight, the maximum speed for the Terberg truck is automatically adjusted to guarantee a safe speed.’
The self-steering bogeys are another safety precaution on the Translifter. Tigran explains: ‘The moment the Translifter must grab a cassette, you obviously position the Translifter under the cassette. With four wheel sets, this is naturally a challenge for the operator. Therefore, it’s a fully automatic process, based on sensors. They monitor the margins and ensure that the wheel sets adjust if needed.’
The solution that Feyter Forklift Services provided to Steel Solutions, is unique. Not merely due to the product combination, but also because of the close contact with authorities and the way the related paperwork was handled to make transport on public roads possible. This makes it an illustrative project to showcase the organisation’s resolving power. An example that shows how one can use out-of-the-box solutions to solve a logistics problem.
The advantages of the Translifter – Cassette concept:
- Cassettes eliminate waiting times for operators -> The cassette waits, and the operator is always moving
- A high degree of transport efficiency; one Translifter transport movement replaces 4 to 5 lorry trips
- Safe operation thanks to lights, brakes, excellent visibility and stability
- With the use of different cassettes, the same Translifter transports various loads
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