With almost 50 years of service behind them, side-loaders have well earned their role in the intermodal freight industry. They are unbeatable for transporting containers and loading or off-loading them in just minutes.
The limitations of side-loaders are few, however the payload that they can legally transport on the road is one. Despite their capacity to lift heavy containers, the payload is reduced by the weight of the two crane modules. The work-around commonly employed is to dispatch a regular container truck + trailer for carrying the container along with the side-loader, and just use the side-loader as a mobile crane.
While this work-around solves the problem for the operations team, it isn’t without consequence for the customer who is paying for two trucks and drivers. The question many don’t ask: What are side-loaders costing my business?
Several case studies have highlighted the cost of side-loaders. In one example, an exporter dispatches around 900 containers in a season, reaching a dispatch rate of one container an hour in peak season. The containers are packed by forklift at ground level, and a side-loader is contracted to transfer the containers onto a skeletal trailer for haulage to the shipping port, and to transfer arriving empty containers onto the ground for packing. In peak season, side-loader is committed full time to the site for several months at a cost of 110 USD per hour. The operations manager faces a dilemma of paying for the dedicated service, or facing the unpredictable availability of side-loader when required.
In the second case, an importer receives up to 5 containers per day and a total of around 700 containers per year. Weighing around 20 tonne, the containers are efficiently delivered from port with a side-loader for a cost of 210 USD per delivery. The cost of the same delivery on a skeletal trailer is only 140 USD; a difference of nearly 50,000 USD per year.
Clearly there’s a cost for loading or off-loading the container from the truck, but is there a cheaper alternative to using side-loaders?
BISON’s automated container lifting systems have proven to be the answer. In the above two case, the savings from avoiding side-loaders sees payback in a year. But the aspect valued by the operations manager more than the financial savings is control. No longer does the operation depend on a side-loader being available and turning up on schedule.
In contrast to BISON’s portable A32 container lifting system, the container lifting system for these customers is a fixed installation. Wireless controls make for fast and easy handling of containers weighing up to 32 tonne, and bollards and guide rails ensure that a wayward driver cannot damage the lifting system. The first of these will be operational in February 2019.