Yale trucks help keep the trains running on time

October 30, 2013

A new fleet of Yale lift trucks backed by top-notch service from Bucks-based dealer Forkway is helping to keep engineering firm Alstom’s time-critical train servicing and repair operations running smoothly.

If there’s one kind of customer that demands the very best in terms of the quality of equipment they employ and the service level that comes with it, it’s a world-class engineering firm whose own business involves the provision of service on time, every time.

So when prolific infrastructure provider Alstom needed to begin replacing an ageing fleet of lift trucks across a number of its UK train servicing and repair sites, its requirements were for nothing less than the best.

Alstom undertakes regular train servicing and repair across numerous sites in the UK including Oxley (near Wolverhampton), Chester, Glasgow, Wembley, Liverpool and Manchester, backed up by a central warehouse at Preston. Its customers include the likes of Virgin Trains, for whom it carries out servicing and repairs at Wolverhampton and Manchester, as well as Northern Rail and Arriva, whose trains are serviced at Manchester and Chester respectively.

Rolling stock arriving for regular servicing at these sites often needs to be processed on very tight schedules “ Virgin Pendolino trains being serviced at Oxley, for instance, must be turned around within a week. Such servicing incorporates all manner of engineering work to both locomotives and passenger wagons, including the regular removal and replacement of large heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units that sit on top of each passenger car and the removal and refurbishment of entire wheel bogies.

Trains being routinely parked up overnight at the various Alstom sites can also require tightly scheduled repairs or maintenance – trains arriving as late as 11:30pm may need to be go back out in the morning as early as 5:30am. These overnight requirements typically include things like repairs to onboard catering equipment such as chiller cabinets or coffee machines and routine train washing and cleaning.

Helping to support this extremely time-critical, service-led operation is a fleet of reach trucks and counterbalanced forklifts from Yale. They include MR14 reach trucks at the Preston warehouse, which work in narrow aisles to lift heights of around 6.5m, and a variety of gas, electric and diesel-powered counterbalanced trucks, used at the various locations to load and unload goods vehicles and move components in and out of on-site stores. All have been supplied on a six-year contract hire basis by Amersham, Buckinghamshire dealer Forkway.

The counterbalanced forklift fleet includes compact 3.0 tonne capacity ERC30AGF 3.5 tonne GDP35VX diesels LPG powered GLP30VX and ERP35VL four-wheel electrics. Due for imminent delivery to the Glasgow site, are three ERP25VL electric four-wheel counterbalance trucks; while the Wembley site is soon to take delivery of a 1.8 tonne, three-wheel ERP18VT “ chosen to replace an existing four-wheel truck as for its exceptional manoeuvrability.

The 3.0 tonne capacity GLP30VX at the Oxley site has been fitted with a hydraulic fork spreader that allows the driver to extend its 1400mm long forks up to 1.9m for handling wide loads such as the HVAC units. This saves time and reduces the possibility of any risk to the operator that could be sustained if the task had to be carried out manually.

The 1,600kg truck at the site, has been fitted with a half-cab for operator protection when working outside and has also been fitted with LED lights, sound-deadening material in the operators cabin, a reversing beacon and alarm, as well as the Techtronix 100 transmission option to meet the application requirements. It has also been supplied with a height limiting proximity device to avoid any possibility of an arc with the overhead power lines in one corner of the site. This restricts the height to which the triplex mast can be raised to 2.5m which can only be overridden with a special key held by the fleet manager.

Given Alstom’s extremely high service levels to its customers, it is critical that its lift truck fleet doesn’t let the operation down. Alstom Lead Buyer Paul Crowley said the quality, reliability and safety features of the Yale trucks have all proved impressive. They are a flexible and reliable truck, he comments. They are also absolutely pivotal to maintaining the trains. At the end of the day, we just couldn’t move the HVAC units around without the right forklift trucks.

The Yale trucks were also competitively priced, he adds. They’re not the cheapest trucks on the market – but they’re the ones that fit what we require, he comments. We’re very satisfied with the quality of these trucks and our maintenance agreement with Forkway makes it all hassle-free. We have a service level agreement in place that stipulates that if there is a breakdown, they have to respond within four hours “ and they’re very good at doing that. And our drivers like them, too “ I’ve certainly had no complaints.

So happy is Alstom with the quality and service provided by Yale and Forkway that it has already indicated Yale will be high on its list for future lift truck purchases.

For reliability, in particular, Yale has to be one of the best, comments Crowley. Since we bought the Yale trucks, we’ve had hardly any downtime “ it’s a quality product.