Toyota Forklifts Lift Observatory to New Heights

An observatory housing Australia's largest optical telescope is benefiting from the adaptability and available customisation of Toyota's material handling equipment at its facility at Siding Spring, near Coonabarabran in NSW.

In May 2015 The Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) released a tender for the supply of new material handling equipment. The Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) branch at Newcastle was successful and received the order for two new forklifts, including an 8FG25 2.5-tonne capacity internal combustion truck.

"We'd previously used battery-powered forklifts and found that problems with battery life were letting us down at crucial times, so it was time to upgrade to an engine-powered unit and the Toyota 8-Series forklift was perfectly suited to our needs," said AAO operations manager Doug Gray.

The AAO's order also included a BT SWE120S walkie stacker forklift which required specific modifications to ensure it met their needs.

"Our primary telescope is seven stories high, and our storage areas are small in floor space but built high to make the most of the available space. We needed a stacker that could reach these high shelves and also fit in a goods lift to enable it to access several levels of the facility," Mr Gray said.

TMHA Newcastle area sales manager Allan Peacock said meeting these specific requirements demonstrates TMHA's ability to adapt its equipment to suit a customer's unique needs.

"While we have a broad range of material handling equipment to suit just about every application, we are also able to modify our products to ensure they are tailored to meet our customers' exact requirements," Mr Peacock said.

"It's a real point of difference and we're proud to have been able to work with Doug and the rest of the team at the AAO to provide a bespoke solution to their particular challenges.

"In this instance the AAO needed its BT SWE120S stacker to reach a lift height of 3700mm and collapse to fit into a goods lift with a door height of 1980mm. We put the order in for a customised unit with a 3900mm Triple Hi-Lo mast and a collapsed height of 1892mm, and it was delivered earlier this year."

Mr Gray said the whole process was very orderly and smooth throughout.

"We've really been impressed with the ease and professional manner in which the entire process has been handled, and also with the customer support and advice we've received along the way.

"In fact, I'd be very happy if all our suppliers were as good to deal with as TMHA have been," he said.

"We're very pleased with the BT SWE120S stacker, and with the customised design it's operating just as we'd anticipated.

"The 8-Series forklift has proven to be very versatile too; we can now move supplies and equipment around the site much more easily than before.

"It's also very reliable and never lets you down. You just jump in and go," he said.

The Australian Astronomical Observatory operates the Anglo-Australian and UK Schmidt telescopes to provide world-class optical and infrared observing facilities for Australian astronomers.

For more information freecall 1800 425 438 or visit

AAO operations manager Doug Gray with the observatory's 8FG25 2.5-tonne capacity forklift and modified BT SWE120S walkie stacker forklift.

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