NEW BREMEN, Ohio (July 24, 2013) —When Joel Back, production manager for Gold Metal Recyclers, describes his company’s Dallas processing yard, he challenges anyone to “think of the harshest environment possible for a forklift, such as a construction site…and then multiply it by a factor of 10.” As if this statement was not enough by itself, he is compelled to offer some justification for the claim.
“We transport and move large pieces of metal and concrete, often in 100 degree heat. We have huge cranes picking up busses and chunks of bridges. It’s a rough and dusty application, with slick spots, large potholes and ruts, and big pieces of rebar sticking out of the ground like landmines. And that’s on a good day.”
Dallas-based Gold Metal Recyclers is one of the largest metal recycling organizations in the United States. The company currently has large recycling yards in Houston and Dallas, and smaller operations in various locations in Texas and New Mexico. The company’s Dallas processing yard encompasses about 38 acres and ships approximately 200 to 300 trailers of scrap metal and concrete – about 1.5 billion tons – a week.
The processing yard operates seven days a week with two shifts a day. Forklifts are primarily used to transport the scrap from trucks to bailers or other types of processing machinery. Given the rough terrain and harsh environment the trucks must operate within, Back’s number one challenge regarding his forklift fleet is downtime.
“I’ve seen industry stats that put the average usage for forklifts at around 2,000 hours a year. In our yard we operate 22 hours a day, seven days a week. We easily average 3,000 hours a year. My two biggest issues are overheating and busted steer axles,” said Back. “The way I look at it is time spent on repairing steer axels and blowing out the radiators is time that my trucks are not being used. If one of my forklifts is processing in our bailers we can lose up to a $1,000 a minute. I’m not in the forklift business; I’m in the production business. I don’t have time to worry about my trucks. I need to keep things moving. That’s why I’m always on the hunt for a more durable forklift that is readily available when I need it.”
In early 2010, Back met with Craig Lummus and Joe Bowers from the local Crown Lift Trucks branch. They spoke to him about a new internal combustion (IC) counterbalance forklift that was specifically built to help customers move beyond the existing limitations of forklift performance. Back liked what he heard, and after a successful demo period where he was able to put the truck to the test, he agreed to purchase two Crown C-5 Series cushion industrial forklifts. Trucks were delivered within a week.
The Crown C-5 Series is designed to push the limits of gas forklift performance and durability, and deliver advantages to owners and operators seeking improved power and strength, comfort and safety, and service and uptime. It features an industrial engine, a proactive approach to engine cooling and radiator clearing via an on-demand cooling system, and design innovations that improve operator visibility, comfort and productivity.
One of the main features of the forklift that quickly caught Back’s attention was the cooling system that automatically clears itself of debris and provides precise cooling to effectively manage heat in intense and dirty environments. Each time a user starts the Crown C-5, the system’s radiator-clearing feature reverses the fan direction to dislodge any debris.
“The worst thing about our environment is the amount of dust in the air. Add in the fact that Dallas summer temperatures can reach 103 to 105 degrees, and it’s no surprise that overheating forklifts is such a big issue,” said Back. “With our other forklifts, operators were manually blowing out the radiators at least once a day. Each blow out would take about 15 to 20 minutes and require that the forklifts be in the maintenance bay.
“The other big selling point for me was the durability of the forklift. The abusive landscape of our processing yard definitely takes a toll on the forklifts. Damaged steer axles and transmissions are common and costly occurrences I experience with my other forklifts–often as a result of the rebar sticking out of scrap concrete.”
Two years after purchasing his first two Crown forklifts, Back now has six C-5 forklifts in his fleet, and he’s pleased with their performance.
“On average, I have about 8,000 hours on each of the forklifts, and they are performing really well. My maintenance costs for the C-5s are comparably lower than my other forklifts,” said Back. “I haven’t had any overheating issues or axle or brake problems. The same can’t be said for the other forklifts in my fleet. With these other forklifts, I’ve had to replace four transmissions in the last nine months, which is about $3,300 each; I’ve had to replace four steer axles in the last 12 months, which is a about $2,700 each; and I typically replace the brakes on competitor forklifts every 15 to 16 months, which costs about $700 each.”
He’s quick to add that he’s also happy with the level of attention he receives from Crown’s service team.
“Our Crown service technician, Steve Hill, is very knowledgeable and always has the right solution. Also, whenever I have a question or issue, Lummus and Bowers are always quick to respond with an answer,” said Back. “For instance, when we received the first two Crown C-5 forklifts we realized that modifications would need to be made to accommodate unique elements of our environment. Crown engineers worked with us to come up with a solution.”
As far as Back is concerned, the Crown C-5 has passed the test.
“Our processing yard is probably the worst application for a forklift, which makes it the perfect proving ground,” said Back with a hint of pride. “Five thousand hours in our scrap yard will let you know exactly how good your forklift is; and, the Crown C-5 has proven that it is more than capable of meeting the challenge.”
In November 2012, Back added two additional Crown C-5 forklifts to his fleet.