An uplifting history
02 September 2014
Movetech UK has been in operation since 1959, so has a long heritage in heavy duty lifting and moving. Here, technical sales director David Houghton discusses with Simon Duddy some of the products and services the company offers to help its customers achieve safer materials handling
With a product range that includes turntables, both for heavy industrial and for light display use, lifting jacks, machinery skates and air film equipment, Movetech is able to solve a diverse range of materials handling problems. David Houghton explains: "With most enquiries, we have faced something similar before, so we are able to assist with relevant information and advice speedily. Most customers approach us with an enquiry that is only a portion of their overall requirement so knowing that Movetech UK can deal with that particular issue efficiently, and with confidence, allows them to move forward and consider other elements of the overall project.
While the company is known for its bespoke design and unusual applications, Houghton says in recent years its biggest challenge has been introducing a truck turntable to minimise the service yard size required for supermarket outlets. "These outlets are often in inner city areas with very confined footprints so minimising the service yard increases the available sales floor area. That said, the clients need the delivery trucks to drive into – and out of – the yard in a forward direction with the minimum of fuss.
"The turntable for an articulated truck is 15m in diameter with a 44t capacity and is usually electrically powered. Supermarkets are not interested in the turntable itself, it is what is does that counts. They want to guarantee reliable deliveries to the store.
"This throws up questions such as will it work in all weather conditions? Can it be integrated easily into the construction works? Can it be operated during a power cut? Will it be simple enough for store staff to operate? Can staff safety be ensured during operation? Can it be serviced without disrupting deliveries? What is the life time cost?
"To answer those questions successfully not only did we need to demonstrate good mechanical engineering practices, we needed to learn how to work on major construction sites to their contractual and health and safety requirements. We also had to demonstrate a much more integrated design philosophy and develop much more responsive servicing capability. We visit the sites with installations every few years to check that the equipment still meets (and is being used in accordance with) the original design intent. These are quite different challenges for a small company that usually prides itself on its technical capability. Still, they are lessons well learned, that we are now introducing to our other customers.
Houghton explains that requirements have changed since he joined the company more than 30 years ago: "In those days we mostly produced turntables for car showroom and retail display purposes – everything from a few rings in a jewellers window to a new car in a prestige showroom. We still produce these, as a standard range of ‘off the shelf’ products but, with the decline of the High Street, no longer in the same numbers.
"However, our bespoke build facilities, particularly with the addition of the Hovair air film technology division, have grown to more than compensate. These range from very simple manually operated bench assembly turntables of just a few kilos capacity to fully automated high resolution positioners (rotary or linear) of 100t or more for various industrial and commercial concerns.
"We also move heavy loads for the nuclear industry (including floating on air 25t flasks of irradiated waste for efficient storage), help the aerospace industry move and align large assemblies during manufacture (rotating and positioning heavy tools into presses, moving engines/wings through production processes).
"We help the defence industry test the latest range of battlefield equipment (including locating and rotating aircraft and battle tanks being checked for their radar signature). Our customers tell us that our strengths are in our flexibility as a small company, and our in-house capabilities to design, manufacture, install and service our own equipment (with all the relevant Quality Assurance and safety credentials).