Trailer Magazine

Swinglift’s continuous development

  • From the April 2016 issue.
Swinglift’s continuous development

Swinglift’s long history of continuous improvement dates back to the 1960s, leading to a new evolution of its innovative container side-loader that will debut at the 2016 Melbourne Truck Show.

Since 2005, container side-loader expert Swinglift has been flourishing under the Patchell Group, a heavy transport trailer manufacturer based in Rotorua, New Zealand.

A decade has passed since the Swinglift product joined the Patchell catalogue of specialised equipment – including log transport trailers, food grade stainless steel tankers, drop decks and skel trailers – but the long and successful Swinglift story goes back a lot further than that.

According to Swinglift Australia General Manager, Gordon Dyson, the company’s practice for developing innovative equipment began in 1968 with the advent of the first truck-mounted container side-loader in New Zealand, purpose-built to carry 10’ rail containers and later modified to accommodate 15’ sea freighters. 

The development continued in May 1976 when the first road legal 20’ side-loader in NZ was introduced. Invented by Swinglift’s founder, Robin Wynyard, the first unit stood out for its utilisation of New Zealand’s then newly-introduced super single tyres on the front axles of a truck, a lift capacity of 20 tonnes and for being the first to comply with NZ road regulations for a 20’ Swinglift.

Making headlines in local newspapers for these achievements, the inaugural Swinglift was manufactured over a three-month period and delivered to Auckland company Liftways Transport, soon followed with another two units for Liftways, one each in December 1976 and June 1977.

According to Gordon, after a break in side-loader development, in 1990 Robin’s penchant for innovation led to the first SL40/20 Swinglift Leg-Over side-loader. Two notable features were the new stabilisers, designed to go right over an adjacent vehicle for increased safety and stability while lifting up to 40 tonnes, and hydraulic slide cylinders to change the crane lift module position on the chassis for either 20’ or 40’ containers. This new design effectively superseded the standard trombone side-loader models that were being produced by competitors at the time, which were proving restrictive, Gordon says.

While the first Swinglift was made with a typical ‘I’ beam chassis construction, low maintenance slide systems with low tare weight were often sought after features, explains Gordon. “So, the next unit to come off the Swinglift design table was the lattice type chassis, which proved to be light and flexible and still retain the necessary strength.

“The crane lift modules were mounted on chromed round bars that formed the top chord of the chassis and ensured smooth transitions and accurate module placement. The slide bushes in the crane modules can last over 15 years, saving time and maintenance costs.”

In the mid 90s, with the introduction of 9’6” containers, any side-loaders developed to date would now be over height. However, Robin’s pioneering spirit continued, solving the conundrum by using air suspension and low profile tyres to achieve a low chassis height. The solution soon became an industry standard within the strict New Zealand regulatory regime. Soon after, Swinglift released the HC4020 model, capable of 27,000kg legal payload at 8,900kg tare weight. 

Swinglift’s practice of constant improvement was supported after the Patchell Group purchased it in 2005, bringing an on-going theme of making safety the guiding factor in every design. In 2007, Managing Director, Ian Patchell, facilitated Swinglift’s expansion into Australia, setting up a head office in Wollongong. Making its Australian event debut at the International Truck, Trailer & Equipment Show in 2008, Gordon says that Swinglift quickly became a preferred side-loader option for many payload and safety conscious transport companies due to its light tare and unique leg-over design.

Now, a lighter tare Australasian version of Swinglift’s proven South African and European double stack model with Dual Carriage lift modules will be released in 2016, again making its first Australian appearance at the Melbourne Truck Show. “This model features a dagger type stabiliser, and is based on Swinglift’s proven “I” beam chassis. It boasts flat slide wear pads and adjustable precision-machined side guide blocks to ensure smooth transition between 20’ and 40’ positions.

“All slide wear pads and guides can be replaced in situ without removing the lift modules, reducing down time and maintenance costs. The Dual Carriage design will add a whole new dimension to the Swinglift range, and will provide customers with alternative options,” says Gordon – adding that customers can also specify the new model with Swinglift’s well proven Leg-over design.

“Customers can develop their own individual specification from the ground up. Swinglift is excited to be introducing the Australasian model at the Melbourne Truck Show in May,” says Gordon. “It’s the latest result of Swinglift and Patchell’s dedication to continuing research and development.”

This story has appeared in the April edition of Trailer. To get your copy, click here.

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