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Vehicle Loading Systems | Feature

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Raising a pallet-load of goods to the level of a van or truck’s cargo bed is only part of the battle. Assuming that the vehicle isn’t a curtainsider, how on earth do you get that pallet all the way up to the bulkhead?

You may of course be lucky and find you are dealing with a body made by Finnish manufacturer Ekeri, with folding doors right the way down the side. If you are not, then you may end up having to trundle the pallet all the way inside the vehicle using a pallet truck, or perhaps a fork lift if you are loading it from a loading dock.

Doing that again and again, week-in week-out, will gradually wear out the body’s floor. Then there is the question of how you pull all those pallets out again when the vehicle reaches its destination.

Fit a Roller Bed

Joloda Trailerloda

Joloda Trailerloda

One way of addressing this problem is to fit a full-length roller bed from a manufacturer such as Joloda. They offer the Hydraroll Trailerloda system for aircargo movement.

“Trailerloda is the ideal system for vehicles of any age/type as the floor is simply laid on top of the existing floor,” explains Karen McBride, Marketing and Project Manager for Joloda.

“The floor is designed for moving aircargo but can also be used for standard back loads of pallets. The floor can also be easily removed and re-installed in another trailer if needed.

“Trailerloda is especially favoured for refrigerated vehicles as it prevents having to cut into the expensive insulated floor.

“Trailerloda basically gives flexibility to cope with seasonal peaks or short term contracts. It is a reactive solution to acquiring a rollerbed vehicle in days rather than weeks, or even months now with current trailer lead times.”

CargoFresh, PRS Logistics and Dixons in Dublin are some of the most recent users of Trailerloda. Depending on what suits, you can either have two trained engineers visit your site for installation or you can deliver your vehicle to Jolada’s factory, and your vehicle will be ready to use within six hours.

“The system uses the MK21 twin rollers which are 40% more efficient, and with less debris able to fall through reducing the maintenance required,” says Karen.

“Forklifts can drive on the surface of the system and there is an optional anti slip coating that is available. The system still allows full aircargo container capabilities with the total weight of the floor only 1,435kg.”

This solution is not only suitable for trucks and trailers – roller beds are available for vans too. Joloda’s Hydraroll Vanloda demountable light commercial roller bed is equipped with rollers that are raised pneumatically using a compressor powered from a 12v socket.

With the rollers up you simply push the pallets into place then drop the rollers once they are all in position. When you reach your destination, you raise the rollers again and pull the pallets towards the back doors using a pole with a hook on the end.

The rollers allow even quite heavy pallets to be moved easily, says Joloda. Both loading and unloading can be completed comparatively quickly and there is less risk that cargo will be

Two-lane versions of Vanloda can handle pallets weighing up to 600kg, while three-lane versions can cope with 1,200kg pallets.

A 4.2m-long three-lane Vanloda for a big-capacity panel van weighs approximately 140kg, and Joloda is now recruiting Vanloda distributors.

Joloda can produce bespoke versions of its roller beds to meet the needs of particular operators.

Brinkworth, Wiltshire-based Graham Smith UK supplies a variety of products to the telecommunications industry, including data cabinets designed to provide super-fast 4G and 5G connectivity. They may have to be installed in remote areas away from the public highway which can involve off-loading them from the delivery vehicle and onto a specialist 4×4 using a loader crane.

In response, Joloda designed a tailgate incorporating rollers which connect to the Vanloda system installed in the vehicle’s cargo area.

When a cabinet needs to be off-loaded the tailgate is lowered and supported by its adjustable legs. A spirit level is built in to make it easy to check that it is completely level. The cabinet is slid onto the tailgate and can be craned off.

Use a Tail Lift

DEL FC500 tail lift

DEL FC500 tail lift

Not all operators require roller beds. What they simply need is something that will get cargo off the ground and up to a vehicle’s back doors.

That probably means a tail lift.

As with a roller bed however, a potential drawback of installing one is the extent to which it increases un-laden weight and reduces payload capacity. That can be a particular issue with light commercials – 3.5-tonners in particular – which may be tight on payload capability to begin with.

One way of addressing this difficulty is to get the tail-lift’s platform to double as the rear closure. That way you can do away with the rear roller shutter door and win back some carrying

It is an approach being promoted by Hiab-owned DEL.

At last year’s IAA Hanover Commercial Vehicle Show in Germany it launched the British-designed and made 500kg-capacity FC500 tail lift. When not in use the platform covers most
of the body’s rear aperture, with a folding flap provided to bridge the gap between the edge of the platform and the vehicle’s roof.

Net result? A 100kg payload capacity boost, says DEL.

Another way of chipping away at the kilos is to specify a tail lift that is as light as possible without cutting the lifting capacity you need. For example, the 250kg-capacity LoadLift 250 that
Penny Hydraulics supplies to automotive parts wholesaler Euro Car Parts to lift heavy barrels of lubricant in and out of its vans only weights 100kg.

“We’ve done a lot of detailed engineering work on all our lifts to keep the weight low, including the use of alloy and mesh platforms,” says General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Jess Penny.

Operating in northern Germany and the southeast of the UK, Palfinger Tail Lifts Ltd is a leading manufacturer of innovative lifting solutions for commercial and passenger vehicles.

“The needs and wishes of our customers have always been prioritised,” says Janet McClay of Palfinger, “therefore, every single tail lift is manufactured to their individual requirements.”

Palfinger produce a wide range of tail lifts to suit both panel vans and chassis cab vehicles, these include column, cantilever, retractable, passenger and tuckaway lifts.

“We attach great importance to innovation during the development and production of tail lifts,” explains Janet. “When designing a tail lift our core objective is to reduce your maintenance costs, so when choosing a Palfinger Tail Lifts you benefit from our long history of continuous development and cutting-edge innovation, which results in highly efficient products.”

Palfinger’s attention to detail continues after delivery, as they have a comprehensive network of 24/365 service agents operating throughout the UK.

Choose a Crane

Hiab loader crane

Hiab loader crane

Penny Hydraulics also supplies lightweight electric cranes which can be mounted on light commercials.

Earlier this year, infrastructure maintenance specialist Amey acquired 80 of Penny’s 250kg-capacity Swinglift electric cranes to mount on 3.5-tonne tippers to make it easier to load and unload everything from signage to drums containing chemicals. The Swinglifts weigh 20kg apiece.

Hiab offers a much wider range of onboard cranes with far higher payload capacities.

Last year it renewed what it describes as its ‘mid-range loader cranes’ line-up with 24 new or updated models aimed at the 20 tonne/metre segment. Newcomers include the X-HiPro 232 with a capacity of 21.3 tonne/metres.

“The new models are up to 300kg lighter than our previous ones and this means the same amount of extra payload,” says Medium Range Loader Cranes Director, Hans Ohlsson.

New features added to Hiab’s loader range include pre-manufactured, ready-to-install sub-frames tailor-made for the truck the crane will be mounted on. Each frame comes with a pump, tanks and auxiliary stabilisers.

Hiab’s HiPro control system now features Crane Tip Control which should make the lives of users a whole lot easier.

It means the tip can be controlled using just three levers governing slewing, horizontal movement and vertical movement. That is simpler than having to control all the crane’s functions (first boom, second boom, extensions and so on) in order to get the load that is being lifted to where you want it to go.

All Hiab loader cranes now come with a two-year warranty and with a five-year warranty on structural components.

Try a Mounted Forklift

Hiab truck-mounted forklift

Hiab truck-mounted forklift

If you can mount a big loader crane on a vehicle then why not mount a forklift on it instead if that better suits your requirements? That way, you can demount it when the truck reaches its destination and use it to off-load cargo in situations where the drop-off point has no forklift of its own.

Hiab’s Moffett truck-mounted forklift is one of the best-known names in the demountable forklift sector but it has a number of rivals.

Loadmac for example offers the 220iR and 825iSR with a capacity of 2.0 and 2.5 tonnes respectively. The former weighs 2.0 tonnes un-laden and is powered by a 29hp Kubota diesel, the latter weighs nearly 2.5 tonnes and is driven by a 49hp Yanmar diesel.

Loadmac fans include turf grower and supplier Quicklawn. It now runs two after the recent acquisition of an 825iSR and uses them to offload turf at customer locations.

“We have up to 1 million square metres of cultivated turf in production at any one time so we need machines that are up to the job,” says Transport Manager, Barry Appleby. “We can use them in the yard, in the fields and on-site.”

Lightweight Ramps

The WM Light Plus Swivel ramp in action.

The WM Light Plus Swivel ramp in action.

Loading vehicles need not involve high-tech solutions, or indeed any kind of technology at all.

What is wrong with fitting them with a lightweight loading ramp?

Nothing whatsoever, says WM System, a company with over 20 years’ experience of supplying and fitting ramps throughout the UK and Ireland. It provides a wide variety of ramps for vans, including the WM Light, the mesh WM Light-R Series and the WM Light Plus Swivel ramp.

The WM Light Plus Swivel ramp combines the WM light aluminium ramp with the unrivalled PC swivel range, allowing maximum flexibility in a lightweight, high quality ramp. Once folded, the ramp swivels out like an internal door, enabling full access to the van interior.

“The lightweight ramps are being turned to as they provide a high quality, convenient and low-maintenance alternative to the more traditionally used tail lift,” explains Llyr Williams of WM

Boasting a fully mechanical system, the WM ramps are easily operated by one person, with Hiab truck-mounted forklift less than 15kg of effort. The lightweight ramps weigh between 40kg and 130kg, and have capacity options ranging from 250kg to up to 1,800kg.

WM System ramps come with a quick connect and release system. Fit several of your vans with location plates and you can transfer your ramp from one vehicle to the next depending on where it is needed. Remember that wheeling a mower up a ramp into a van if you are on parks and gardens work for the council is a lot easier than trying to lift it into place.

“The biggest growth market over the last six years has been the Community Loan Equipment sector, with over 1,200 WM ramps supplied to this sector alone,” says Llyr. “With vehicle uptime being most critical in this sector, the ramps come in to their own with their quality, reliability and ease of use.”