Established in 1871, Weir Minerals is a heavy engineering business employing 15,000 people in over 50 countries, serving mining, infrastructure and oil and gas markets. In the UK, the company is headquartered at its Todmorden site near Halifax, where Weir Minerals manufacture mine dewatering solutions and slurry equipment for the global mining and mineral processing industries.
At the Todmorden plant a broad range of specialist pumps are fabricated up to a vast scale, the largest comparing in size to that of a double decker bus. From raw materials at one end to complete, precision-engineered products at the other, component parts are cast, machined and assembled in a seamless process. Keeping component parts flowing between processes, right through to final assembly and dispatch, requires a highly diverse fleet of forklift tucks with a comprehensive range of capabilities and lifting capacities.
The foundry is a harsh manufacturing environment, where raw materials are handled, molten metal poured into molds and heavy castings lifted and transported between processes. This is tough work that demands a fleet of robust forklift trucks capable of performing in the most demanding of conditions – facing punishing work in close proximity to materials that can be at temperatures of between 900 – 1400 deg C.
Under such arduous tasks maintaining uptime is critical, so when the forklift fleet contract came up for review in autumn 2019, Weir Minerals made the decision to commit to a brand new fleet of 55 vehicles across a wide capacity range – as some castings can weigh well over 20 tonne. After a tough tendering process, Rushlift, a UK subsidiary of Doosan Industrial Vehicles, was selected as the preferred supplier – in no small part due to Doosan’s series 7 vehicles and its extensive range of reliable, heavy-duty counterbalance trucks right up to 25 tonne capacity. Rushlift was also able to supply every other piece of handling equipment Weir Minerals needed, whatever the make.
In the past, due to the broad range of capabilities required, the forklift truck fleet had always been very mixed, containing vehicles from a number of makers and maintained under contract by Rushlift. With the expansion of the Doosan range to over 200 models of counterbalance, reach and warehouse trucks – with capacities spanning 1.3 to 25 tonnes,
over power sources of electric, gas and diesel – the vast majority of vehicles supplied could come from one manufacturer – Doosan.
Wanda Healy, WME Operational Procurement Manager at Weir Minerals explains: “We have worked with Rushlift for a number of years and have always had great service. Our onsite Rushlift engineer is very reliable and maintains the fleet well, so that was an important consideration too.
“We also wanted a fleet of vehicles that we were certain we could rely on,” she says. “Our business is heavy engineering, so we need really robust trucks that can work in punishing conditions. The Doosan series 7 trucks had a number of essential features that were included as standard. A critical point was that the Doosan diesel counterbalance trucks have completely sealed oil-cooled disc brakes, which prevent dust and grit getting into the brakes – important for safe braking and low maintenance.”
Of the 55 vehicles supplied by Rushlift to Weir Minerals, the vast majority were Doosan products – gas, diesel and electric counterbalance models, across a vast range of capacities from the latest electric B15R-7 three-wheeler, for manoeuvering in tight spaces, right up to Doosan’s heavy lifting DV250S-7, with a capability to lift loads of up to 25 tonnes. Most of the vehicles delivered to site were gas counterbalance trucks with capacities between 2.5 and 4.5 tonnes, although other models rated up to 9, 12 and 16 tonne were also supplied, along with Doosan powered pallet trucks, pedestrian stackers and reach trucks.
Above all else, safety was the top priority for Weir Minerals. In addition to the standard safety features, the Doosan trucks were all supplied fitted with the ‘blue spot’ projected warning light system, seatbelt interlocks, key-pad driver access, FTC fleet management system for pre-op checks and reporting, low-db white noise alarm, and for the electric models, auto-stop on reversing.
However, another critical consideration in selecting Rushlift was the company’s ability to provide any truck that Weir Minerals required, regardless of make, and that included Genie scissor lift and cherry pickers, a Hoist compact gas counterbalance truck, Jungheinrich VNA trucks and a JCB Telehandler.
“Strong account management, from Rushlift’s Phil Wright, played an important part in the whole process,” says Wanda Healy. “He worked tirelessly to get the deal over the line. We’re not driven on price point, it features, but it’s the reliability and longevity of the trucks, the low downtime and the level of service that’s really important.
“As we have a big issue with tyres, Rushlift put in place a partnership with one of the tyre manufacturers, which is great, because that means we no longer suffer the downtime waiting for tyres – and it helps us know the costs across the contract.”
She adds: “Importantly, Doosan is a global business and so they’re in a strong position to support our materials handling needs across other Weir sites around the world – they have the footprint.”