New KAMAG Wiesel at Wilfried Maier Speditionsgesellschaft:
The new Wiesel from KAMAG Transporttechnik is serving Achern-based Wilfried Maier Speditionsgesellschaft extremely well. For six months now, the Wiesel has been put through its paces dealing with demanding yard logistics tasks at the Duravit central warehouse. Maier fleet manager, Detlef Kaspar, in particular appreciates the universal and cost-effective applicability of the Wiesel in container and trailer handling, excellent work-area ergonomics as well as the successful design of the new cab.
"I cannot find an alternative to the new Wiesel from KAMAG on the market", explains Detlef Kaspar, Fleet and Dispatch Manager at Wilfried Maier Speditionsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG. "With this swap body transporter, we can move all load carriers to and from the ramps. We use the Wiesel to move simply everything - from different sized swap bodies with a range of parking heights through to semi-trailers and trailers", says Kaspar, who is married to the managing director of the forwarding company, Susanne Maier-Kaspar, when summing up the strengths of the Wiesel. This could not be offered by other comparable vehicles. Six months ago, Maier had taken delivery of the Weasel from KAMAG, a subsidiary of the Transporter Industry International Group (TII Group) owned by the entrepreneurial family, Otto Rettenmaier. Officially, the Ulm manufacturer of special vehicles had presented the new Wiesel for the first time at the “transport logistic” trade fair. "Maier received the first new Wiesel from us in order to allow the vehicle to undergo a comprehensive field test. Since the fair, we have been officially selling the new model", says Jürgen Dirr, Area Manager Sales at the logistics division of the joint sales organization, TII Sales.
Practical testing in tough yard operations
Wilfried Maier Speditionsgesellschaft handles all transport assignments as well as the yard logistics for Duravit, manufacturer of bathroom furniture and ceramics, at the company´s central warehouse in Achern. The Weasel is used here in three-shift operations. And this is exactly what Maier needs a robust and reliable handling vehicle for and which also provides comfortable working conditions for the driver. The previously used model was also part of the state-of-the-art Maier fleet. Trained car mechanic, Detlef Kaspar, was highly satisfied with the previous vehicle. However, it was in the meantime eight years old and had surpassed 28,000 operating hours or the equivalent of one million kilometres on the clock. Apart from regular maintenance, it had required - with one exception - no repair work but it was very difficult to judge whether the effects of wear would have begun to take its toll after such a long operating period explains fleet manager Kaspar.
Proven Wiesel convinces with a high level of reliability
After undertaking a series of test drives with comparable products supplied by a number of competitors, it was clear that the replacement should once again be a Wiesel from KAMAG. In addition to the high level of stability, the fleet manager was impressed by the extraordinary versatility of the swap body transporter. The weasel can accommodate all common container sizes ranging from C715 and C745 through to the jumbo-sized C782 format whereby the standard stops for C782 containers are rigid while the two smaller sizes are adjustable. Locking takes place via two height-adjustable twist locks. The swap body transporter from KAMAG is also extremely flexible when it comes to parking heights. It accommodates decks with parking heights from 970 to 1,320 millimeters.
As an optional hydraulically height-adjustable fifth wheel plate has also been installed at the rear, the Wiesel can also easily move semi-trailers. In addition, there is a bar coupling at the rear so that trailers and, if the customer has ordered the optional low coupling system, low coupled tandem axle trailers can likewise be pulled. This equipment selection makes the Wesel a universally usable handling vehicle on the logistics yard and thus a highly efficient and very cost-effective transport solution.
Outstanding ergonomics and cab comfort of the Wiesel
Furthermore, fleet manager Kaspar was very enthusiastic about the excellent ergonomics and high level of comfort provided in the driver's workplace in the new Wiesel. With the introduction of the new Wiesel generation, an independent design development has now replaced the previous situation whereby the vehicle featured a purchased truck cab. This offers decisive advantages. The driver no longer has to climb up two steps in order to reach his seat but instead simply negotiates a flat step. "This is a huge advantage", says driver Philippe Brandt. The trained mechatronics technician has been working for Maier for twelve years and had already driven the previous generation of the Wiesel. "We handle at least 25 containers in one shift. In addition, there are up to six semi-trailers. At peak times, the number rises to 50 swap bodies. It is at this point, at the latest, it makes a huge difference whether I have to use a flat vehicle entrance or climb up two steps", explains Brandt. "I can always work in a relaxed fashion with the Wiesel”.
For ensuring pleasant working conditions, a comfortable, air-sprung Isri driver's seat has been fitted which also has seat heating which provides, in addition to the optional auxiliary heater, a pleasant temperature in the winter while, in summer, the optionally available air conditioning blows cool air into the cabin. At a glance, the driver can see over the height and inclination-adjustable steering wheel to the seven-inch liquid crystal dashboard cluster. Here, all the display instruments and vehicle information are clearly presented. All other vehicle operating elements, such as the control switch and joystick, are located just to the right of the driver in the console on the engine tunnel. "This is very convenient and I can easily reach all the operating elements. In addition, KAMAG has optimized the steering system which means that I can steer the vehicle into position even more precisely", reports Brandt.
New design very well received
Fleet manager Kaspar also praises the successful design of the cabin which is pleasantly different from the industry standard and is more reminiscent of a stylish truck than a work machine. "The new Wiesel has an attractive appearance and there is no comparison to the previous model. Moreover, our client, Duravit, is so enthusiastic about the new vehicle that the company attaches great importance in ensuring that its name is clearly visible on the driver´s cab”, explains Kaspar. Naturally, the Maier corporate colour of ultramarine blue also stands out and makes the Wiesel something of an eye-catcher. The front of the vehicle, on the one hand, is characterised by the one-piece panoramic windscreen which curves around the A-pillar thus allowing a perfect view of the vehicle surroundings. On the other, two pairs of halogen headlights with a clear glass optic design along with the LED daytime running lights give the cabin a distinctive character. The lamps are fitted in a recessed position and thus well protected in the solid collision protection plate. Because yard operations run around the clock, Kaspar has installed LED working lights in on the cabin roof in the style of his truck tractors.
Unobstructed view through the rear window
The low position of the cab provides even more advantages. It also allows the driver a direct view of the guide tunnel and the swap body to be lifted by means of the one-piece window which extends across almost the entire rear wall. The installation of a rear-view mirror makes good sense - even in rainy weather conditions. The rear window is also equipped with a windscreen wiper. "This was one of the improvements that KAMAG introduced at our suggestion during the prototype test phase," says Kaspar. "Overall, the contact with KAMAG has been excellent. All our ideas for the new product were quickly taken up", praises Kaspar. Thanks to rear view mirror and the unobstructed view to the rear, no swivel seat is necessary. KAMAG has deliberately decided against installing such a seat. Kaspar supports this move: "This is not a disadvantage for me but definitely an advantage. In my experience, rotating seats eventually end up with too much play which is very uncomfortable for the driver”. Due to the low installation height of the cab, KAMAG has moved the electrically adjustable and heated outside mirrors, including the wide-angle mirror, upwards by a few centimetres thus enabling the driver to keep an eye on all vehicle movements in the yard during normal driving conditions. The clever functional trick is the curved arm of the mirror support.
New engine already low emission according to Euromot 5
The new installation height of the cab also meant that a new engine was required. Cologne-based engine manufacturer, Deutz, is providing the in-line four-cylinder engine block. The powerful and smooth-running unit supplies, on the one hand, the hydrostatic drive and, on the other, the hydraulic lifting system via two hydraulic pumps. In addition, the state-of-the-art engine fully complies with the Euromot 5 emission standard while the previous drive unit conformed only with Euromot 4 low emission criteria. For new working machines, Euromot 5 is mandatory as from the beginning of next year. Steplessly and thus without any tedious gear changes, the Wiesel is set in motion. Likewise, the direction of travel can be changed just as conveniently through one-handed joystick operations. The driver´s arm rests on a pulse pad and is thus in a relaxed position throughout. The smoothness of the engine in combination with the cabin design also ensures an overall lower noise level in the cab itself according to driver Brandt.
Powerful hydraulics facilitate quick lifting and lowering operations
The second hydraulic circuit drives the lifting frame system. Four single-stage cylinders complete with automatic-hydraulic parallel lift raise the lifting frame by five centimetres per second. The high operating speed is a major benefit because time is everything when it comes to goods handling - the logistics machine must not come to a standstill! "At the lifting frame in particular, you notice the improved performance of the hydraulics thanks to the new engine. Lifting and lowering procedures are so much faster. We certainly work much more efficiently with the new Wiesel", reports Kaspar. For optimum illumination at the rear, KAMAG has installed LED working lights attached to extendable arms fitted on both sides of the cabin rear wall. As a result, they do not protrude beyond the width of the vehicle when they are not required. Using stair access with two steps, the driver reaches the lifting frame, for example, in order to plug in the connections for the brake and air supply. "It's child´s play to access the connections", says Philippe Brandt who, as a trained mechatronics technician, cares deeply about the technically perfect condition of the working equipment.
Lightning fast service is a matter of course at KAMAG
Apart from regular vehicle maintenance, almost no other work is required to be carried out on the highly reliable Wiesel. In addition, KAMAG has extended the maintenance intervals with the introduction of the new engine. A situation that for vehicle operator Kaspar is particularly pleasing because this means low running costs. If, however, repairs are necessary or a wear part must be replaced, then the past has shown that KAMAG has always acted in the best interests of the customer. "If necessary, the vehicle manufacturer will deliver the required component to the partner workshop in twelve hours", says Kaspar. The service friendliness also benefits from the fact that KAMAG uses large-scale production components.
Thus, for Maier, the youngest generation of the Wiesel remains the leading solution - with no available alternative - for in-house container handling on the market. Since the introduction of the series, KAMAG has sold more than 2,000 units mainly in the Germany-Austria-Switzerland region but also in other countries. The swap body transporter is successfully in use throughout Europe at the logistics centres of numerous customers. This includes well-known logistics companies, mail-order companies, postal and parcel service providers as well as many industrial companies and medium-sized transport companies. In the meantime, apart from the diesel-powered version, there are also vehicles equipped with an electric drive. In addition, there are driverless models, so-called AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles), which are currently being tested by selected customers.
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The Wiesel accommodates all standard container sizes - from C715 and C745 though to C782 jumbo decks. At the Duravit central storage facility, the Wilfried Maier Speditionsgesellschaft carries out efficient yard activities using the KAMAG Wiesel.
The cabin of the new Wiesel only has one flat access platform for the driver instead of two steps. A huge advantage when numerous containers and trailers have to be moved per shift.