Mining is focused on achieving efficiencies like never before.
Finding new uses for existing technology, and smarter ways to do business.
Miners are now looking to use single machines for multiple applications, able to service the workshops and warehouses as well as outside of these areas.
While rough terrain forklifts have been working on mines, both above and underground for some time, they have not been able to be used inside many workshops as they are simply too wide to be useful.
On the other hand, warehouse based forklifts become a potential hazard as soon as they leave the floor as they have a greater chance of tipping on uneven surfaces – a danger which is heavily multiplied when taking into account the rough mine site.
Seeing the gap in the market, Manitou is launching its new series of semi industrial forklift trucks – the MI range.
The company is more known for its telescopic handlers, and its innovative, intrinsically safe, underground coal mine telehandler, which provided new capabilities for underground miners.
Having been focused on rough terrain forklifts since the creation of its first vertical mast RTH forklift in the 1950s, and with 70 per cent of its business still focused on the space, Manitou is now making greater inroads into the industrial material handling space in Australia.
The company launched its new range into Australia last month.
Speaking to Jean-Pierre Guérand, the global vice president of marketing for Manitou, at the launch at its warehouse, he told Australian Mining that this MI range was developed "as our aim is to get more into the industrial materials handling sector".
However it was not a spur of the moment decision, with Guérand stating that it "was developed after we received customer feedback and saw the existing market demand".
"Around 5800 hours of research and development went into the new MI range.
"The ease of operation has been a major focus in its design."
It has taken a two pronged approach to the new vehicles, offering both a gas and diesel powered variant (dubbed the MI – G or MI – D respectively) and available in a 1.5T, 1.8T, 2T, 2.5T, 3T, and 3.5T version, providing 12 different models in the range.
Guérand explained that "after looking at the needs of operators, buyers, technicians and maintenance teams, as well as the dealers, we have redesigned the frame, counterweights, and increased safety".
The diesel variant will be powered by a Yanmar engine, while the gas powered forklifts will use a Nissan engine, both of which have high level air intakes, air filter safety cartridges, and vertical exhaust for the operators' health.
Regarding operator comfort, Guérand told Australian Mining that "we are also looking at potentially increasing the seat weight handling, from its current level of 120 kilograms, up to 150 kilograms".
All of the forklifts in the MI range come with an Okamura transmission, which Manitou says aids the inching function and ensure a jerk-free approach.
They have a wide mast opening, an open work roof for increase vision
All the models will be available in Australia in both gas and diesel variants, expect for the 1.8T machines gas version as they currently have the global standard sizing for gas bottles and will need to be adapted to the Australian market due to Australia's differing standards.