Shoreham Port invests £2m in UK-built Yale lift trucks from Forkway Group

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Shoreham Port has invested in a fleet of 35 new Yale forklift trucks to support its timber logistics operation that is estimated to handle up to 20% of all UK timber imports. The £2m contract is the largest ever for supplier Solent Forklift Trucks, part of Forkway Group.

“We will discharge more than 100 packs of timber per hour from this ship,” says Tom Rawlins, Manager – Operations & Training, standing on the quayside at Shoreham Port next to a ship from Scandinavia delivering more than 3,000 packs of varied length timber up to 6m long. “The forklift truck fleet is essential to ensure our Port Operatives can turn every ship around efficiently.”

The Port is the largest timber handling port on the south coast of England with extensive experience and equipment for timber handling. Last year alone over 450,000m3 of timber was handled and stored in either the 47,000m2 of dedicated, modern dry warehousing or quayside paved open storage.

“Our Yale trucks pick up the timber packs as they are discharged, transport them to the barcode area and then onto storage across the 2.5km length of the Port,” says Tom, explaining that the Yale forklifts are also used to load about 70 lorries each day. 

The 35 new Yale Veracitor GDP55VX trucks provide up to 5.5 tonne lift capacity and replace a previous fleet of Yale trucks which were also supplied by Solent Forklift Trucks. The company, which is part of the Forkway Group, has supported the site for more than eight years and is one of the region’s leading materials handling specialists.

“Truck reliability is critical to avoid a backlog whether it’s in 35 degrees C summer heat, gale force winds, driving rain, or sub-zero freezing temperatures,” says Tom. “Our previous Yale trucks proved resilience, so we expect this new generation to be available for a 12 hour shift, with extended operations to meet business demand.”

With safety being the number one priority at the Port, as the old truck contract was coming to an end, the Port conducted a full assessment of operations, reviewing all hazards and risks.

“We concluded that the Port’s processes were already at optimum levels, but there was more that could be done to the trucks thanks to a new generation of safety technologies available,” Tom said. “Pedestrian segregation and the safety of colleagues is crucial, so every truck has left and right red perimeter lights, a rear blue spot light, two cab mounted work LED lights and mast mounted LEDs fitted along with a white noise reversing buzzer and an operating beacon.

“The trucks are a perfect size for our yard thanks to their physical dimensions, combined with the load centre and the fact they can turn really well on their axle,” says Tom.

Ray Berry, General Manager for Solent Lift Trucks explains “The Stage V engine under the hood provides even greater fuel savings across the fleet compared to the previous model. For the drivers, the cloth seats with air suspension and HydraSmooth hydraulic accumulator help keep vibrations to a minimum. The full steel cab is a comfortable bubble for the operator with low noise levels.”

Driver’s daily safety checks are recorded through Forkway’s FleetSafe LCD telematics system, which also provides Whole Body Vibration reports to confirm that the drivers are not subjected to excess shock or vibration. The highly customisable fleet management system also offers driver access control, as well as activity and truck utilisation data and is designed to be easy to use, but tough enough to withstand harsh port environments.

The new Yale lift trucks are user friendly with Accutouch™ mini levers and feature Load Sensing Hydraulics for responsiveness and reduced fuel consumption. Smooth electronic inching and controlled power reversal (CPR) provides regulated directional change and reduces tyre wear, while controlled roll back on ramps and an in-built Auto Deceleration System (ADS) further support operators.

Most of the timber that comes through Shoreham’s lock gates has been shipped from the sawmills of Scandinavia and the Baltic countries of Latvia and Russia. The Port’s unique Track-A-Pack stock control system allows customers to view ‘real time’ information about their stock, recording movements with 100% accuracy and tracking the pack of timber from the moment it lands at Shoreham to the moment it leaves on a vehicle.

“We are very proud of the part that Shoreham Port has to play in the UK timber supply chain and the Yale forklift trucks are an essential part of the journey providing efficiency, reliability and excellent environmental performance,” says Tom. 

The trucks are supplied on a five-year contract with three-year warranty and are maintained at the onsite garage facility at Shoreham Port by Yale trained engineers. For more information, visit or