RollerForks® handling frozen meat

Cold store Lau van Haren loads their containers in a fast way without any damage with three RollerForks®. Because there is no more expensive manual work and no packaging, the palletless system easily pays back the costs in only half a year.

Forklift palletless handling attachment, RollerForks for slipsheets to handle frozen meat at Lau van Haren

It is cold in the cold storage depot at Lau van Haren Logistics & Coldstores BV in Weurt. There is a maximum temperature of only two degrees at the forwarding department and that can be rather chilly when you stay there for a long time. It can also be worse; behind the isolated sliding doors there is a constant minimum temperature of minus twenty degrees. In the special freezers temperatures drop to minus thirty-two degrees.
It shows when a pallet with meat is just brought into the forwarding department. You can feel the cold as the pallet goes by. Apart from that, the load also looks a bit strange. The layers containing white boxes are separated with the so-called airflow spacers. With these airflow spacers extra airspace is created between the layers. “In this way a load is frozen completely, also the inner part of a load,” explains managing director Wieck van Haren while he closes his jacket once more. “The client supplies the pallet in this way. After freezing it we remove the spacers by overturning the pallet 90 degrees. The receiver does not have any use for the spacers and sending the spacers only results in extra costs. We also need the spacers here.”


Preventing extra costs is an important issue within deep-freeze logistics. The conditioned space for storage and transport is expensive and therefore it has to be used optimally. This is the case during storage but also during transport. Especially when it concerns longdistance transport as for instance cooled sea containers. “It is because of this that we prefer to work without extra expenses like for instance pallets and slip-sheets,” says Van Haren. “A pallet takes up a lot of extra space and costs, 5 minimally. A slip-sheet uses less space but still costs 1. Manual handling is also possible, but this will increase labour costs with an amount of 10 to 15 per ton. We do not need that. Especially when we are talking about a lot of containers.”

A single unit a week was no problem for Van Haren, it could be done manually. In 2002, a new client who supplied Van Haren with tons of extra containers a week made them choose for another solution. Seeing that pallets were overturned to remove the airflow spacers, Van Haren came up with a solution for loading and unloading of containers without the use of pallets. By replacing the artificial slaughterhouse pallet for a pallet with a couple of extra supporting laths it would be possible to place the boxes directly on the forks. An extra third arm in the middle could support a load.

Now the only problem was how to remove the boxes from the forks.


Wieck van Haren :” We hoped that we were able to pull the forks from under the load. This did not work so we considered renting a push-pull system to push a load off the forks. It was then that we read about the RollerForks® in a professional journal. It contained a preview of the Logistica exhibition. It was the answer to our question.” The apparent simple RollerForks® system convinced Van Haren immediately. Van Haren ordered three units. “The costs did not matter,” explains Wieck van Haren. “A push-pull is more expensive and needs an extra lift truck because you can not change the system to standard pallet handling. RollerForks® do not have that problem. In actual practise it appears that RollerForks® give credit to their name. After having turned a load and having removed the airflow spacers a load is placed on one of the hundred special pallets that Van Haren had made. Four extra laths offer an extra inserting opening for the three RollerForks®. After having placed a load on a special pallet it is temporarily stored in the freezer. As soon as Van Haren is going to load a container a load on a special pallet is first brought to the forwarding department. Here the RollerForks® pick up the boxes and transport them into the container. “Then it is only a matter of retracting the forks,” says Van Haren. “ It just rolls!”


If necessary the lift truck drivers can also pick up a load directly from the stationary pallet inverter device when a load has been turned over. The base of the tipping device is also equipped with extra laths so that the RollerForks® also fit. Partly because of this direct possibility and the high handling speed of containers the amount of a hundred special pallets is more than enough.

The total investment did not cross the limit according Van Haren. The hundred special pallets, the profile in the tipping device and purchasing the RollerForks® have cost approximately 10.000. This amount of money is earned back in half a year given the saving of time, labour costs and forwarding costs. “ The costs caused by damage are not even included,” concludes Wieck van Haren. “ A lot of companies that work with push-pull systems have got this problem. All things considered, the RollerForks®are safer and easier to use. RollerForks®are robust and do not need any maintenance. Not even when it is as cold as it is in here.”


Lau van Haren from Nijmegen started a transport business specialised in national and international meat transport in 1929. In 1978 van Haren built its first storage freezers between Nijmegen en Weurt. Given the increasing demand storage was expanded in 1993, 2001 and 2003 up to a total of 5000 pallet locations. In the present building in Weurt the company has got different storage systems like the conventional pallet racks, drive-in racks and mobile racks. Wieck van Haren, present manager, is the third generation that leads the family company. The company specialises in packing, freezing, cold storage and logistics. Others do distribution and transport.

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