Inventor and managing director of Mobicon Systems Tom Schults.
A Brisbane manufacturer of straddle carriers is set to win a $15million contract to supply ten special container movers for use on board the US Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program.
Mobicon Systems general manager Tom Schults said the US Navy’s decision to split the initial 20-strong order – 10 each to the Australian-based ship builder Austal and the US corporation Lockheed – means the Brendale-based company will be asked to build ten special Mobicon straddle carriers for the Austal order.
Mr Schults has been in negotiations to supply the specially designed straddle carriers to the US Navy for the past five years. During that time Mobicon Systems built and delivered one of the special machines to one of the early tenderers Bath Iron Works, a division of General Dynamics.
Over the past two years Mr Schults and his design team have continued to refine the machine’s design for use on board ships. Now that the US Navy has decided which LCS manufacturers to contract to, he said that the decision was great news for the Brisbane company.
“With an order of 10 specially designed Mobicons – and the likelihood of a total of 55 LCSs to be built as the program expands – the future looks very bright indeed,” Mr Schults said.
“The Mobicon container handler was deemed the only one in the world which was light and versatile enough for the Littoral Combat Ship. It has extremely low axle loadings, in fact the lowest in the world, and this is crucial for handling containers and flat-bed racks on the aluminium decks of ships.”
An Austal-manufactured Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) on which the Brisbane-made Mobicon straddle carrier will operate.
An LCS is a relatively small, fast, manoeuvrable member of the DD(X) family of ships. The LCS is easy to reconfigure for different roles, including anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, homeland defence, maritime intercept, special operations, and logistics.
Mr Schults said the Mobicon container handling system had become an increasingly popular alternative to large forklifts and swinglifts in a wide cross-section of industry over the past decade.
The standard Mobicon, which can unload and move any size container with a payload of up to 35 tonnes, has been taken up by several large entities including Australian Customs, Toll SPD plus many large companies in the transport and logistics field, steel industry, mining operations and small port operations.
Mr Schults developed the Mobicon in the late-1990s and has patents in place in most major countries. Mobicons are currently at work throughout Australia, as well as in England, New Zealand, the USA and in Angola.