Combi-CB forklifts are multidirectional, with the ability to quickly change the direction of their wheels and move in any direction.

May, 2024- Proper planning is essential when launching any new business endeavor. When Charlotte, North Carolina-based Nucor Corp. acquired Summit Utility Structures LLC and Sovereign Steel Manufacturing LLC in July 2022 to become part of a new business unit called Nucor Towers & Structures, the steelmaker decided to purchase, in advance, the material handling equipment for two planned production facilities. That’s according to Business Services Manager Paul Johnson at Nucor Towers & Structures, Rock Hill, South Carolina. Nucor Towers & Structures manufactures structures made from steel tubing for the transmission and distribution of electricity.

According to Nucor Corp., its motivations to enter the market for utility infrastructure has been its historic stability; an expected phase of accelerated growth due to the replacement of aging infrastructure; the growth and migration of populations; an increased focus on reliable electric grids; and increased market penetration of renewable energy and energy storage.

The two new production operations are being built in Decatur, Alabama, and Crawfordsville, Indiana, with completion of the Alabama factory expected in first-quarter 2025 and the one in Indiana a couple of quarters later, Johnson says. The company already operates a production facility in West Hazelton, Pennsylvania. Each new 400,000- sq.-ft . facility will be very similar. “Obviously, the geographic footprint of the facilities differs a little bit but, for all intents and purposes, the flow and the layout of the buildings will be identical.”


The majority of the material handling equipment for the new locations will be models from Combilift USA, based in Greensboro, North Carolina. Johnson notes that he has been familiar with Combilift ’s product line for at least five years. In addition to seeing Combilift products at trade shows, he has witnessed how they function at other Nucor divisions.

To date, Nucor Towers & Structures purchased and received delivery of two Combilift C17300 sideloader multidirectional forklifts from Lift One, a machinery distributor that is headquartered in Charlotte, and has 19 other full-service dealerships across Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Lift One has personnel who are dedicated to the Combilift line, Johnson says. “They’re always available and able to answer the questions that we have from a service standpoint. [I have] nothing but good things to say.”

He adds that the two Combilift C17300 sideloaders are being used on a small scale in a temporary setting. Similar to the Combilift C-Series forklifts that parent company Nucor is using, the Combi-CB forklifts are multidirectional, with the ability to quickly change the direction of their wheels and move in any direction.

The Combi-SC straddle carrier is suitable for transporting large bundles, such as these galvanized steel beams.

The straddle carrier is for extreme loadhandling situations. 


According to Combilift , this four-way movement gives its sideloaders the versatility to transport long loads in sideways mode through narrow doorways and around objects with confidence and utmost safety.

Combilift has earned recognition for offering solutions to material handling problems and for high customization of the equipment. “The units are custom-tailored to the company’s specific needs in the raw, or inbound, material yards to store product densely and efficiently,” Johnson says.

A piece of equipment for extreme load-handling situations from Combilift is the Combi-SC straddle carrier. The Combi-SC enables an operator to drive over the load, select the needed material and bring the material into the facility for processing. In contrast, a traditional forklift would need wider aisles and bigger spaces to get under the load, raise it and then transport it.

The Combi-SC offers a quick turnaround speed with safe loading and unloading at ground level and provides 360-degree visibility from the driver position and 2-minute offloading from trailer to ground, enabling fast loading times without the need for tractor trailers to wait long periods.

With the Combilift multidirectional forklift’s ability to work both indoors and out, the need for multiple trucks is eliminated. 


What sold Nucor Towers & Structures on the Combilift multidirectional forklifts is their ability to carry long loads sideways, according to Johnson. “You’re kind of carrying it almost as if you have your load in your hip pocket. You’re not having to run that load perpendicular down the bay over other parts of our process.”

Having to raise a load over something to clear it can limit or obstruct forklift operator visibility, Johnson says. Raising a load over a person is strictly prohibited, he adds, but maneuvering a load over production equipment and other obstacles might cause the load to be dropped, potentially damaging equipment and disrupting operations. “The ability to carry the load low to the floor, parallel to process, is a much more efficient, safe operation.”

In addition to multidirectional operation, the forklifts feature an open cabin, load-sensing steering, three-wheel hydrostatic drive, a ±100 mm side shift, and four-way lever positioning of wheels, according to Combilift . The company designs the forklifts to increase productivity, improve safety and help increase storage capacity indoors and outdoors. The lift capacity ranges from about 5,500 to 8,800 lbs. and the lift height can exceed 26 ft .

With the construction of the two new production facilities moving forward, Johnson says that having a material handling solution in place when they are ready will be advantageous. “As soon as we open the doors, we want to be running product. We will look to ramp up as quickly as we can.”

Combilift USA, 877/266-2456, 

LiftOne, 855-543-8663,

Nucor Towers & Structures, 704/366-7000,