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Unique straddle carrier optimises perishable import storage

Combilift has delivered a first-of-its-kind solution to an Australian business in food and shipping container storage, aiding in ergonomics, efficiency, and operator safety.

The three-high straddle carrier was delivered to FBT Transwest in December 2023 following a comprehensive consultation, design, and delivery process.

The collaboration was initiated by FBT as it tendered multiple parties for a solution that could optimise storage space while the safety of staff and high consequence goods.

FBT managing director, Cameron Dunn, says it was an easy choice in the end.

“It’s not all about the sale. It’s also about the partnership with Combilift and the quality they could provide,” he says.

“We were very impressed with their ethos and their commitment to safety, which primarily led to us choosing Combilift.”

The straddle is equipped with eight wheels for greater stability and larger windows for increased visibility of the container. Of course, the main requirement was for a machine which could stack containers three high and set a new standard in storage optimisation.

Combilift Australia straddle carrier product manager, Jarad Wilson, says this product epitomises the company’s dedication to its customers.

“Combilift’s philosophy is one of customer-driven innovation. It’s something that we’ve done for years and will continue to do. It’s why we have such an expansive range,” he says.

“The key to developing a product in conjunction with the customer is understanding their functional requirements and their key concerns.

“Then, it’s important to continue communicating with them through the process, so the end result considers the engineering constraints while still addressing the key functionality that the customer needs on site.”

FBT was founded in 1972 and has since built a formidable business which services Melbourne, Sydney, and Newcastle. It handles perishable and dangerous goods, as well as servicing leading manufacturers and importers of agricultural equipment, plastics, edible oils, and waste stream products.

As much of Australia’s food supply is imported, FBT holds an important place in the food chain of the east coast. Without FBT’s experience or capacity, these major Australian ports would struggle to cope, making the need to stack containers three high even greater.

FBT Sydney transport manager, Scott Major, says the new straddle also allows his operation to run much faster.

“The new straddle carrier from Combilift greatly increased our storage capacity. It’s a much faster and more stable unit than previously used and we’re finding that our turnaround times for trucks in an out of the depot have been greatly improved,” he says.

“By including eight wheels, the stability of the unit has made it a lot easier for the team to drive around.”

As for the operator comforts, there is no better source of truth than experienced FBT warehouse yard supervisor, Jason Earl.

He speaks highly of the new straddle and is enjoying his job even more since its delivery.

“We took delivery in December 2023 and since then our yard has been far more streamlined than before,” Jason says.

“You sit more comfortably in this one. The controls are very similar to a high reach forklift, so everything is at your fingertips. You’ve got a better view, it’s smooth, it’s efficient, and it’s making our jobs so much easier.”

Cameron even suggested his operators had asked, “When are we getting more?” and suggested this is just the beginning of FBT’s partnership with Combilift.

“We see this as the machine of the future and we’re very proud to be the first site in the world to enjoy the three-high machine,” he says.

From Combilift’s side, Jarad is always looking for new ways to improve his customers’ operations. The manufacturer’s ethos is ‘Innovation, flexibility and service’ and there will be plenty of opportunity to fulfil this for FBT.

“Looking to the future, we’ll continue to work with FBT, building that relationship, refining the straddle carrier and looking for new opportunities to assist their operation,” Jarad concludes.

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