In 1998, Konecranes’ precursor SMV Lifttrucks received an order for what, at the time, would be the world’s largest reach stacker for handling containers on river barges. It was a massive undertaking, but if anyone was up to the challenge, it was SMV.
In the mid-1990s, after its reconstruction, SMV Lifttrucks was once again a world-class company. With the order books full, and continuity secured with a strong owner, technical development proceeded as planned. SMV Lifttrucks was aiming high, and a goal was reached when, in 1998, the company received an order for the world’s largest reach stacker for container handling on river barges. We meet Roger Persson, at the time R&D Engineer at SMV, now Technical Product Manager at Konecranes Lift Trucks.
“During those early years we managed to focus on the right things, that is delivering good machines to our customers and a good atmosphere for our people. The ability to continuously raise the quality of our products, and never forget the technology, set us apart and made it possible to create not only the greatest reach stacker, but the greatest lift truck company in the world,” says Persson.
Introducing the SMV SC 4545 TA3
As is so often the case, this project started out as a request from a customer with very specific needs. German company Dörpener Umschlaggesellschaft (DUK) in north-east Germany wanted to expand its river transportation business. For that, it needed either a crane or a reach stacker with very large capacity. In 1998, DUK contacted SMV.
“At the time, SMV had never built a reach stacker for this very specific need. And there were several challenges. A river barge is constantly moving, as it’s floating on water. It’s also situated below ground level, which means that the reach stacker needs to be able to handle negative lifts. And since the situation calls for a very large reach stacker, the pier needs to be able to tolerate heavy weights. We needed to take all this into account when we started our design work,” Persson explains.
The result of the process was the SMV SC 4545 TA3 – at the time the largest reach stacker in the world for handling containers on river barges.
Safety a priority
The SMV SC 4545 TA3 was ahead of its time. Designed for extensive outreach and negative lifts up to 45 tonnes, in both the first and second row containers when stacking, this reach stacker was the machine DUK needed for the heavy lifts on river barges.
“Safety was a priority. When lifting containers from below ground level, visibility is limited. Therefore we developed a camera system to facilitate the operator's work. We also implemented a laser system with automatic braking in case the operator got too close to the pier edge. At the time these were pretty unique properties, and they are still in use in our products,” says Persson.
Konecranes Lift Trucks has continued along this successful path with heavy-duty reach stackers, and has carried on developing over the years. The SMV SC 4545 TA3 was once a tailor-made product for a specific customer request, but today it’s an established, world-leading product for container handling on river barges. This is a good example of how Konecranes technology keeps advancing, honouring the company’s legacy in heavy material handling.