There is a world of options available for boosting efficiency in materials handling. The secret, though, is opting for the best equipment for your operation.

Counterbalance forklifts are commonplace in standard pallet operations, and the options are simple. Fuel type, mast height and type, and optional extras like attachments. In modern facilities there are other things to take into account. Stacking, picking, loading bays, and aisle widths mean a wider range of equipment on offer.

The long load challenge

But for businesses that deal in handling long loads, there are lots of challenges. It is rare to see lumber, plastics and steel structures produced in pallet sized blocks. This means things that are simple for palletised goods are much more difficult for long loads. Moving them inside or out, storing them in racking, stacking them in blocks, carrying them over rough terrain or getting them off a flatbed and into production. That sounds like a lot of hard work!

Jofson sales manager, Jason Jordan, says sideloaders can solve all of these problems. “Common in lumber yards, steelworks, pipe producers and other heavy industries – sideloaders make small work of arduous activities.”

Complete stability

Named after its design, sideloaders carry the load to the side of the truck on a deck or bed which can be specified to suit different materials. With forks that extend outwards from the centre of the deck, operators need not worry about centre of gravity. The machine allows a long load to be lifted at its most stable point, then set down on the bed of the sideloader to be transported.

The load is then carried sideways through standard doorways, narrower aisles and uneven ground. “Moving long loads this way is much safer than raising a wide load to avoid obstacles,” Jason continues. “Using a sideloader means there is minimal risk of tipping the truck.”

Five decades of sideloaders

On the market now for around 50 years, sideloaders are popular in European markets where space is at a premium and loads can reach up to 100,000lbs in weight. Heavy industries like lumber yards and steelworks are especially enthusiastic about the machine. But the spread of sideloaders to an audience outside these European markets has recently been pushed along by the success of the multi-directional machine.

These vehicles originate from the portable truck or trailer mounted piggyback forklift, and provide some of the benefits of a sideloader.

“In many cases, multi-directional trucks are wider and less suitable for long runs or uneven ground,” Jason explains. “Unlike the Baumann sideloader, these machines have no in-built deck levelling to keep loads securely horizontal both front to back and side to side.”

More and more companies that use these trucks find they are not suited for their heavy applications. This is resulting in a rise in people opting for sideloaders instead, and for Baumann, production levels are at a record high and still growing.

The Baumann advantage

There are many benefits of the Baumann sideloader, but one well worth mentioning is its mast strength. Any sideways movement means pressure on the mast and chassis, but Baumann sideloaders feature reinforced masts and a strong standard chassis.

Baumann was recently rewarded for its innovative Archimedes Outreach System. For over 40 years the sideloader mast was pushed outwards towards the load by rams and rollers. The chassis would be designed to push against the outreaching mast, but decades of travel would inevitably mean some masts could jump or slip.

Jason adds: “With the award-winning Archimedes system, a continuous screw provides accurate and sensitive control, and reduces the weight needed in the chassis, leading to greater fuel economy.”

A rise in working sideways

As they can move in and out of standard warehouse doorways, sideloaders are now used both indoors and outdoors. Electric sideloaders also provide engine-like performance with a reduction in noise and exhaust emissions. This means operator comfort and co-workers’ environments are massively improved.

“Sideloaders are without a doubt rising in popularity, but it will always remain a niche product,” Jason says. “Nevertheless, some businesses now rely on the sideloader’s ability to store products in cantilever racking, blockstack steel, or even operate efficiently and quietly in confined built-up areas.”

Baumann places a great deal of focus on the longevity of its products, and this has led to the company retaining customers across decades. The reliability of their sideloaders has become an important tool for not just lumber yards and steel mills, but for businesses of all types.

Jason concludes: “Today, energy companies, fabricators, building materials merchants, garbage handlers, roof truss suppliers, fruit juice, insulation, crane and plastic tube manufacturers, are just some of the latest companies that are experiencing the art of working sideways.”