Fuchs was taken over by the Schaeff group in 1985 and focused on excavators, loading machines and cranes. By 1998, the company had decided to focus on a narrower market with the best prospects. It decided on loading machines for three main markets: raw material and timber handling; ship loading and unloading; and scrap/recycling. Its present focus is the same, so one must assume the company made the right choice. The next major change came when the Schaeff group was taken over by Terex of the US in 2002. In 2004 it was decided to separate the product lines of Schaeff, with Terex-Schaeff concentrating on mini-excavators, landscapers and similar machines, and Fuchs concentrating on materials handling for log yards for sawmills, panel mills and paper mills, and on ports, scrap yards and recycling depots.
"We have four models in our range of 13 which are dedicated to the wood business generally," explained Ron de Vries, general manager of Terex-Fuchs. "Our wood industry business is very different to the other business areas we supply and we have specialist salesmen in this area to advise their colleagues on this particular marketplace – we can’t just go in with a standard
product," he said.
In its brochure, the company points out that these log yard operations place heavy demands on loading machines, which require not only lifting capacity and mobility but also versatility and that the machines are specially designed for those requirements.
Terex-Fuchs says the square design of the undercarriage offers optimum stability combined with manoeuvrability and high driving and cornering strength.
The new MHL454 is a 30-tonne class machine and, with its ‘pick & carry’ system, offers all-wheel steering (with a 5.5m turning circle), automatic steering and track control and correction for safety. An extra blade can be mounted to the front or rear
of the chassis to allow for clearing of traffic routes, or for alignment of logs in the grab. The machine has a reach of up to 10.85m.
The MHL 460 is a 35.2/37.2-tonne machine with a reach of up to 16m and is specially designed for operations using a trailer; it can load and unload the trailer on its own without uncoupling. It has an elevating cab and four-point stabilisers.
The MHL 464 is the largest machine, at 38.5 tonnes, and has an 11m reach, while the 434 is a 23.1-tonne machine with a reach of 9.5-10.7m.
The 434, 454 and 464 do not have the elevating cab, but do have rear-articulated booms for an unobstructed driver’s view.
"Three of the four models for log handling are ‘pick & carry’ machines and have recently been re-designed and fitted with Tier 3 Deutz diesel engines to meet the regulations, and we have also made some other improvements to those machines," said Mr de Vries. "For example, the 454 is a new design which is fast and manoeuvrable for quick filling of log conveyors, while the 460 is a typical trailer-pulling unit for larger sawmills. The 434 is a smaller ‘pick & carry’ machine, mainly bought by smaller sawmills and panel mills, and the 464 is similar to the 434, but is intended for larger sawmills or panel mills."
Terex says it is a world leader in construction and loading machines and today has 18,000 employees globally and incorporates several German brands, including Terex Atlas, Terex Demag (mobile cranes, not the other Demag, which makes overhead gantry cranes) as well as Terex-Schaeff and Terex-Fuchs.
Terex-Fuchs machines are all purpose-made for particular applications. The company offers mobile and stationary pedestal machines in a variety of sizes and specifications. "We are materials handling specialists – our machines are not derived from other functions such as earth-moving excavators which have been modified, like some of our competitors, said Mr de Vries. "Our log handling machines are not assembled from modules, but the frame is specific to the machine and has little in common with our scrap handling machine for example. Cabs, engines, pumps, hydraulic drive lines are the only parts that interchange to any degree."
Terex-Fuchs has more than 50 dealers worldwide, most handling all four application areas, while some specialise in only a single area. These dealers sell the machines, service them, supply spare parts and deal with part-exchanges.
"Central Europe is currently our strongest market, but we are also increasingly successful in Russia – predominantly in scrap handling, although log handling is coming up fast," said the general manager. "Asia is also coming up slowly, but the price there is very competitive."
The company is always looking for opportunities for acquisitions, said Mr de Vries, and Asia is a good example. "You need to produce locally to the market so we are looking at manufacturing elsewhere, not just here in Germany."
So, just how important is the panel sector to this company?
"In the past, we had a strong dependence on scrap and wanted to spread our risk in the market so we focused on the log yard business and we have seen clear growth there and expect a bright future in this application for our machines.
"Some other manufacturers’ loaders, which are not purpose-designed, take more space to operate and can’t stack as high as we can, for example and space is always at a premium, of course."
Recycled wood is increasingly used in panels and Mr de Vries felt that this was another area for specialised machines, given the dusty environment Terex-Fuchs is used to dealing with in other markets. Its engines are equipped with large cooling radiators, with the option of reversible fans to blow out dust. The company’s elevating cabs, as fitted to the 460, for example, are designed to enable the driver to see into hoppers. Other models have fixed, but high, cabs.
"Research and development in recent times has concentrated on meeting new regulations, such as emissions standards with those new engines. But what really drives our research and development is lowering the cost of ownership – that is what it is really all about," concluded Mr de Vries.