It may have been an exceptionally hot summer in 2018, but some parts of the UK had heavy snow as late as March, so being prepared for whatever the weather throws at us is vital to keep materials on the move. In Scandinavia this is even more of an issue, particularly for Combilift customer Pretre, one of Norway’s leading manufacturers of roof elements, trusses and pre-cut timber.
Snow is present at the company headquarters in Stryn and its other sites in Lillehammer, Trondheim and Kristiansand for over six months of the year, which makes for challenging operating conditions for handling equipment. Pretre recently acquired its twelfth Combilift multidirectional forklift in as many years, as the trucks’ ability to work reliably in this environment ensures the streamlined handling and storage of its very bulky raw materials and finished products.
The initial impetus for switching from traditional sideloaders was the tendency of these 2-directional trucks to slip on the snowy and icy surfaces. Jørund Woll of Materialhandtering A.S. recommended Pretre’s management to look at the Combilift range due to its proven track record to cope with tough conditions – and as one of the first dealers in the world to sell a Combilift when the company was established in 1998 he knows a thing or two about this. “Where other makes of sideloaders struggle with wheel spin, the all-wheel drive and traction of the Combilifts is ideally suited for the weather in this part of the world,” he said.
A mix of Combilift models are used according to the differing loads handled at the company’s sites, which are strategically located in the north, south, east and west of Norway to facilitate customer service in a country where transport costs are high due to long distances and problematic weather conditions. The high volume of Pretre’s finished products requires the delivery of a vast amount of raw materials and common to all locations is the need for efficient, space saving handling, quick and easy offloading of incoming packs of timber and reloading products for dispatch.
The first Combilift to be operational at Pretre was a Combi-SL sideloader with a rear mounted cab, which is a very beneficial when a lot of picking and placing of product is involved as it gives the operator an even better view of the load. Combilift sideloaders with front or rear mounted cabs and 4.5t or 5t lift capacities now comprise around half of Pretre’s fleet. Their multidirectional ability makes them easier to manoeuvre the roof trusses (which can be up to 20 metres long) around the yard compared with the old sideloaders which adds to the available storage space.
They also speed up the loading of the trusses which need to be upended onto the bed of the HGV.
Slightly smaller 4t C4000 C-Series models are used predominantly indoors for the internal transport of materials to and from the production lines but are also deployed outside when needed, included an electric powered truck at the headquarters in Stryn. “Many electric models from other forklift manufacturers are for dedicated use inside, but Pretre’s Combi-C4000E is an example of the high level of versatility of Combilift products ,” said Mr. Woll. “The design incorporates full AC electric drive on the front right and rear wheel for increased traction and with one of the drive wheels positioned directly under the platform/ load, very exact directional travel can be achieved with heavy loads. Regenerative braking increases battery life for longer operations per charge. As a forklift dealer we appreciate the qualities of the Combilift range which enable us to keep our customers best equipped for our climate, and Pretre is definitely one happy customer!”