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Published: September 2017      

In the land of the giants

Denmark’s N C Nielsen is the latest company to come up with a super heavy reach stacker.

Heavy reach stackers are increasingly finding a niche handling outsize and heavy loads for the wind farm industry and other project cargo handling applications. Last year, Kalmar supplied two 130t SWL machines to GAM in Spain for use at the Tadarsa Eolica plant in Avilés (World-Cargo News, March 2016, p40). This past summer, Germany’s CES has supplied C S Wind in Scotland with two machines with a maximum 155t SWL under hook (WorldCargo News, July 2017, p1).

Now, N C Nielsen has come up with a machine with a maximum capacity of 152t under hook. At 3.5m load centre (say, for handling 7m diameter tower sections), SWL is 109t. The machine is primarily aimed at the wind farm industry, supply bases, logistics companies working in those sectors, and, of course, port operators.

A continuum

N C Nielsen, whose franchises include Konecranes Lift Trucks in Sweden, is no stranger to heavy lift applications. Previously, it supplied Titan Wind Energy in Varde (the former Vestas tower factory) with two “bespoke” Konecranes 85t SWL reach stackers. These are rated at 75t with the specified attachments. They are used in tandem to lift Titan towers weighing up to 140t, with ‘end-on’ lifts. They have purpose-built front ends fitted with a heavy-duty fork carriage, on which a ‘rhinoceros’ lifting frame is mounted, while the booms are specially shortened and reinforced.

Subsequently, in cooperation with Konecranes and Danish engineering firm S3 Design, N C Nielsen came up with a 100t SWL reach stacker, designated NCN 100 289 TH. Several machines have been delivered to Danish customers, sometimes for work in other countries. The basic machine is Konecranes’ biggest series production reach stacker, the SMV 4545, with special reinforcements where required, as determined by the calculations, and with a J-hook mounted at the end of the boom.

The Konecranes SMV 4545 is not fitted with jacks. However, as it has a 9m wheelbase, it has a huge lever curve, and can thus be used to handle containers weighing 30t in the third row of a barge. Shorter wheelbase container barge or intermodal rail handlers usually require front jacks to reduce the load on the drive axle when working at extended load centres. Reach stackers are ‘pick and carry’ machines, but, as the container is ‘boomed in’, the front axle load reduces, and the jacks can be raised to provide the machine with the required mobility.

Wheels within wheels

It is not possible to provide jacks for really heavy-duty reach stackers, because they are handling huge loads close in, so there is no ‘boom in’ relief, and the machines must have mobility under full load. As previously reported, CES has solved this problem by using a specially designed and fabricated front axle with drive wheels fitted that have hub motors, and are shod with huge tyres.

N C Nielsen has taken a different approach that enables it to use ‘conventional’ heavy duty drive axles. Starting with the 85t machines, the company developed from scratch an undercarriage with two sets of two wheels fitted with resilient solid tyres.

These are mounted side by side underneath the drive axle between the inner drive axle wheels. They are operated hydraulically, and are activated automatically when the load on the drive axle reaches a certain point – this equates to a 70t cargo load in the case of the 100-tonners. The retracted position of the wheel sets is within the profile of the drive axle tyres.

N C Nielsen is continuing with this rolling stabiliser principle with the latest 152t SWL machines. In this case, it is understood that the support wheels engage automatically when the load on the drive axle reaches 220t, which equates to a cargo weight of around 120t.

The new NCN 152 330 TH has a wheelbase of 11,220mm, shorter than the 12,000mm on the CES VRS-K, but self-weight is lower, at 110t, compared to 122.5t. The N C Nielsen machine is longer, with a chassis length of 15m (16.5m when support wheels are engaged), so it requires less counterweight.

N C Nielsen’s technical director, Per T Nielsen, explains that the machine is fitted with a Scania DC13-384, 294 kW engine and a special Kessler drive axle. The wheels are shod with 24.00-35 tyres, while 21.00-35 tyres are mounted on the rear axle.

These are smaller tyre mounts than those on the CES VRSK (29.00-49 front and 24.00- 35 rear), but are still very big when compared with regular container-handling reach stackers, where tyres are 18.00-25 or 18.00-33 all-round. The cabin slides forwards or back hydraulically.


The machine is obviously much bigger than the Konecranes SMV 4545, and Per T Nielsen says it is specially built and tailored for very heavy lifting. It includes some standard parts and components, but some parts have been designed and engineered by N C Nielsen, and it is an N C Nielsen product, so the company has full responsibility to the customer, and can respond quickly to market demand.

Unlike the CES VRS-K, the machine cannot be disassembled and shipped in containers. N C Nielsen offers road transport on heavy low-loader trailers. Where sea transport is required, the machine can be shipped as a ‘high and heavy’ load on ro-ro ships/ PCTCs.

With reach stackers now lifting 150t, the question must arise: what is the limit? Per T Nielsen believes there is still some way to go, in terms of both structural capability and hydraulic lifting principles. It would be possible to use rope lift with winches and sheaves, but that involves different standards and product approvals and certifications.

“We are setting new standards with these reach stackers, which are designed for specific purposes, and can be adapted flexibly for different lifts with grippers, jibs, winches, hooks, yokes and so on,” says Per T Nielsen. “We carry out a lot of preliminary work including various calculations, modifying the SMV machines in the workshop, and delivering a comprehensive technical documentation for the solutions.”...

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This complete item is approximately 1000 words in length, and appeared in the September 2017 issue of WorldCargo News, on page 50.

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