Founder Hein Heuvelman traded in stone, tar and even pigs when the company began in the 1880s. Times have changed. Today, Heuvelman is one of the leading softwood timber suppliers in the Netherlands.
Holland’s low lying waterways provide a natural advantage for the movement of certain bulky materials, and wood is no exception.
Traditional sawmills and timber businesses in other parts of the world are often found in mountainous regions, either on sloped sites or in tight valleys.
That’s not the case in Ouderkerk aan den IJssel, in Holland, where the river helps facilitate the delivery of raw materials from Scandinavia, and further afield, to Heuvelman.
With its 140 employees, Heuvelman is active nationwide, supplying timber to many markets and constantly developing to work faster, better and above all in a more customer-oriented way. Now part of Timber and Building Supplies Holland NV (TABS), they’ve invested heavily in tools that efficiently cut, plane, angle, wrap and label products as their many customers require.
The cranes have been on site for decades, but the advantage provided by their own port also creates a barrier. “We have our own unloading facility,” says head of logistics, Henri van der Pot, “but we go as close to the water’s edge as possible to maximise the available space. We have nowhere to grow.”
With space at a premium, Baumann sideloaders are the best option for handling and storing these long loads. Cantilever racking provides much needed storage density, made easier by the handling accuracy provided by the trucks. Being able to reduce aisle widths and turn in tight spaces, meanwhile, makes a lot of sense.
The site is also busy, 30 lorry loads a day is typical, most of which are rapidly loaded and unloaded with one of the 14 ELX Series 120v electric sideloaders. The sideloaders also feed the two processing lines, making them an integral part of the system.
“The performance of the electrics are outstanding,” says Mabo Lifting’s, Ard van der Maten. “It provides Henri and the team with a lot of confidence, and we work hard to service and maintain the whole fleet. The durability and reliability of the Baumannn machines is a key driver. ”
Runtimes are also critical. At Heuvelman, work is split into two shifts, starting at 7am and ending at 11pm. The fleet is large enough to cope with charging requirements and as the kit gets older, spare batteries may be required, but so far, says Henri, it’s never been a problem: “With a new battery, the trucks last the entire day.”
Having been stripped of unnecessary weight and designed with power-saving controls and sensors, the ELX delivers unprecedented battery life.
There was a time when every sideloader was powered by diesel, but today’s timber businesses are seen as important custodians of the environment and are looking to reduce their carbon impact.
Electrics offer zero emissions, are cheaper to run and maintain, as well as offering a better operator environment. The initial investment is now also on a par with IC models, whilst noise and vibration reduction provides almost as much satisfaction as the cost savings.
All these factors also make Baumann a great fit at Heuvelman, for as the natural barrier of the river creates challenges on one side, so too do the ground conditions and public road on top of the dyke that dissects the site.
Like many areas in Holland, concrete sections are used on top of the very soft ground. Movement is inevitable, and ground conditions are not always ideal. The operators need confidence in the machines, particularly when working at speed. “Crossing the dyke happens a hundred times a day,” says Henri, with a smile. The incline may not be severe, but makes additional power demands on equipment and has, to put it delicately, been known to cause some old machines “stability issues”.
Thankfully, Baumann’s load sensing mast and auto-load stabilisation quietly keeps everything where it should be. The entire sideloader chassis pivots to provide the equivalent of tilt on a forklift mast, and Baumann sideloaders also adapt to the ground conditions to ensure the bed remains level, even with the ground is not.
The low noise level is also something that’s likely appreciated by the very close nearby local residents.
“Of course, we work inside and out, and electric is the only way for us to go,” adds Henri. “We also have an agreement to close our doors at 7pm so as not to disturb our neighbours. In truth, the only complaints we may have got related to the noise of the radio!”
Overall, the comfort, durability and high performance of the Baumann adds up to an impressive package. “We couldn’t be happier,” concludes Henri, “they give us everything we need to get the job done.”