Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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Combilift’s off-road solution

A specialist Vauxhall breaker takes delivery of Combilift’s multi-directional forklift – the C4000, increasing storage of vehicles by almost four-fold.


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Swindon based South West Vauxhall Spares has increased the number of vehicles that can be stored at its premises by almost four-fold since a new system based around racking and the capabilities of a Combilift 4-way forklift has been in place. It is also now much quicker and easier to move individual cars and the risk of product damage has been substantially reduced.

The company is a specialist Vauxhall breaker, dismantling around 10 to 15 vehicles every week, and has an inventory of 30,000 items which are sold not just on a regional basis but also nationally and internationally thanks to its reputation on eBay. Directors Dave and Laura Marshall have charted the changes in the industry over the years and believe that the future lies in safer and more rationalised storage procedures such as those they have implemented.

Bringing a parked up car from the yard to the workshop for depollution and dismantling used to entail shifting numerous other vehicles out of the way and back into place with a counterbalance truck. This often took hours and also resulted in damage to panels and other components from the truck’s forks due to its limited manoeuvrability. “We realised that this was costing us valuable time – and therefore money – that could be better spent on the actual breaking process, and we occasionally had to turn down a potential sale. Dented panels also reduced our amount of viable stock so we decided to look for a better alternative,” said Laura.      

Dave and Laura realised that vertical storage was the solution, and before taking delivery of the C4000 4t capacity diesel-powered model they acquired a new piece of land and installed underground storage and drainage tanks. Concrete surfacing was followed by the installation of bays of racking with 4 levels which accommodate 144 cars compared to the previous total of 40.

The Combilift was modified to take into account the size of the loads carried and was built with a much wider chassis than standard: the 2m long platform and the 2000mm forks ensure stable picking and ensuing low-level transportation of the cars. Incorporating guided aisles along the inner edges of the racking at floor level enabled aisle-widths to be set at just a little more than the depth of the truck itself at 3.22m, for best use of every inch of space in the 865m² area. This also makes it very quick for the Combilift to enter, exit and travel down the aisles, and removing a car from its designated bay to the dismantling area takes just minutes. The mast height was specified at 6.3m to enable easy access to the 6m top bays. “I was initially sceptical about going 4 high as Combilift’s Paul Hopkinson advised,” says Dave, “but having seen how easy and safe the whole procedure is, we could actually have added a fifth level.” 

The truck is also used to unload incoming transporters, and this is a much more straightforward procedure as Dave explains: “We used to have to direct the driver to put the most damaged cars on the bottom level so that we could drag them off. Now that we can pick all the cars off with the Combilift it makes no difference where they are, which is very convenient for all concerned. The truck’s manoeuvrability enables a whole transporter to be emptied in 15 minutes so the driver is off onto the next job in no time.”

The collaboration between Combilift, racking suppliers Ohra and Dave and Laura has resulted in procedures that more than accord with increasingly stringent legislation,  and marks the directors out as pioneers when it comes to safer operation in the sector.  “The investment we made in racking and the Combilift was quite considerable,” says Dave, “but in terms of efficiency, flexibility, safety and more business opportunities it is already paying its way and I see this as the best practice model going forward.”

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