Review: Sany SCP160C container forklift

By: Andrew Norton

Presented by
  • Plant & Equipment

Container forklifts like the Sany SCP160C mean operators no longer need to brave the elements at work.

Review: Sany SCP160C container forklift
Robert Faehringer and Amy Chetcuti with their Sany SCP160C container forklift.

Container forklifts sure have come a long way. Just look at the mega machine that is the Sany SCP160C forklift.

Gone are the days of operators exposed to the elements and suffering their shifts no matter how hot or cold the operating conditions.

Operators no longer have to prove their toughness by surviving the elements.

Modern forklift trucks have a fully enclosed cab that provide real comfort during a shift and that sure isn’t a bad thing.

Not only do the cabs provide all weather protection but the ergonomics nowadays are just incredible.

Suspension seats, excellent vision all around the truck and fingertip controls to reduce fatigue.


Sany SCP160C container forklift

Sany SCP160C container forklift

Sany’s smallest forklift, the German-made 160C, is no exception.

But its cab goes way further than most with a windscreen wiper/washer system atop the cab so that operators can clearly see a raised load.

Combine this with front and back wipers and washers and a 180-degree glass front and there’s no excuse for operators not seeing exactly what the load is doing.

Apart from air-conditioning and heating the cab on the Sany SCP160C forklift has the joystick control favoured by European operators.

The joysticks must have been designed by ex-Airbus first officers who for whatever reason didn’t make the grade to captain.

I say that because the joysticks are to the right of the steering wheel not the left, which would have been the one operated by captains.

The joystick has all the normal functions such as fork tine raise/lower, mast rake, fork tine side shift and individual in/out for accurate positioning relative to load, achieved through a combination by sideways and forward and back movement and thumb switches atop the joystick.

But an added safety feature, at least in the truck I tested at a MLA Holdings location in Newcastle, New South Wales is the keyboard for entering operators’ individual six-digit codes.

To the right of this is a mind-blowing (you can tell I’m a tech nerd) detailed digital instrument panel that not only shows speed, engine rpm and the usual engine data but transmission and hydraulic oil temps.

Behind this are the wiper/washer switches.

On the Sany SCP160C forklift, the suspension seat with armrests even handled my massive bulk, and the safety-coloured seat belt could fit around my stomach without threatening to squeeze out its contents.

Sany forklifts must have known that someday someone like me would sit in that seat.

Although there’s no oscillating fan for milder days, the rear hinged side windows allow for air flow when moving forward. The rear-hinged doors open wide for easy entry.

Steps and handholds make the climb up straightforward and sensibly MLA, the Sany importer, fitted extra railings around the engine hatch (which accesses the dipsticks and radiator), because falling from this is a fair distance to terra firma.

The cab tilts up to one side to access the engine and transmission after the railing on the hinge side has been lowered.


Volvo engine

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Being a Euro-spec truck, the Sany has a 4 cylinder Volvo industrial diesel that achieves massive torque at low revs by using a combination of variable turbocharger vane geometry and inter-cooling.

Though I’m not an avid fan of variable vane angle turbo charging it does ensure maximum torque from very low revs, just what’s needed in a truck of this size.

The Dana transmission is operated by a toggle switch to the left of the steering column.

Incidentally, on the Sany SCP160C forklift, this does have the usual forward and backwards tilt but the lower part of the column angle can also be altered, operated by a simple foot lever.

This means the column can be moved upright to allow porkers like me to easily reach the seat then the column and steering wheel can be set to any desired angle.

In the wiper/washer switch cluster is a turtle and rabbit control so that speed can be limited to 8km/h.

For example, MLA has a maximum yard speed of 12km/h, so this control can be set to prevent lead foot operators from terrorising their mates.

The park brake is electrically operated, so no leaning forward to release or engage a lever.  

A ventilated side panel to the back of the left cab entry steps accesses a tank to which a special fluid must be used to enable the truck to meet Tier 4 exhaust emissions compliance.

If the fluid is not used the engine is limited to 60 per cent of maximum torque.

Inside this compartment is also the switch for tilting the cab.

The 3-speed Dana transmission has computer control for adjusting the clutch plates and this procedure must be done every 1,000 operating hours as the plates wear and slippage occurs.

This can damage the plates but also overheat the transmission as the plates must fully engage to effectively transmit the massive engine torque to the four drive wheels via the Kessler D81 drive axle.

However, what was surprising was no timer switch to let the turbocharger spool down after a long hard shift.

I was raised on cooling periods for turbo engines to prevent bearing damage from no lubrication when the engine is switched off, and if a delay switch isn’t fitted most operators won’t give a damn.



Forklift -Review ,-Sany -SCP160C-3

Industrial diesel manufacturers sure are getting their act together with 4 cylinder diesels.

Obviously not only will turbo-intercooled fours be more fuel efficient than thumping great naturally aspirated sixes but they meet emissions regulations more effectively.

Starting the Volvo didn’t require waiting for glow plugs to warm before hitting the ignition key, just a slight rigmarole before the engine fired up.

The cab was isolated from most of the engine noise and vibration levels were no greater than an in-line 6-cylinder diesel.

The vibration was sensed rather than felt with absolutely no shaking of the cab.

Once running the suspension seat the control panel including Airbus-inspired joystick quickly raised even with my massive bulk aboard.

After my obligatory three-minute warm up I could operate the raise/lower and rake functions without even touching the accelerator panel as the engine automatically increased revs to match the speed of the controls.

All with no lag, about as fast as I could achieve by planting my foot on the accelerator.

That really is a nice touch as I like keeping my foot firmly on the brake while performing these functions.

The electric over hydraulic controls gave precise feel to operating the fork and mast and the vision from the glass-fronted cab was the best I’ve ever experienced in a forklift.

The forward location of the cab plus its height from the ground means operators are virtually at the coalface and can see almost the entire length of the fork tines even when they’re on the ground.

The overhead washer/wiper system quickly cleared away the shed grime so even at full height I could see where the mast tip and fork were positioned.

With my foot still firmly on the brake and the park brake off, I gingerly selected forward and the truck started to inch forward.

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As the bottom-end torque is so massive there would be few times when the inching pedal would be needed and of course the air brakes provided instant stopping.

The same transmission creep occurred in reverse but the truck was completely controllable.

Due to stringent safety regulations I wasn’t allowed to drive the truck outside the shed without a five-hour induction class.

However, MLA’s Amy Chetcuti, who had passed the twice-yearly induction, showed just how easy it was to position the fork tines in a 20/40 foot container base.

Even on full lift, the truck was rock solid and Chetcuti could clearly see the load at all stages of lift.

The tight turning radius meant she could position the truck exactly where she wanted to pick up or deposit the load back to its possie in the yard.

With the load safely parked, Chetcuti tested transmission shift speeds and recorded a no load shift from first to second at just 3km/h and second to third at 8km/h.

She pointed out that while the truck was fairly bouncy on its 24-inch (61cm) pneumatic tyres, the suspension seat still gave a good ride.



Sany has obviously paid heaps of attention to operator ergonomics and comfort.

The glass-fronted cab is absolutely brilliant, with no roof supports to impede visibility and all controls falling naturally to hand.

Features such as automatic revs increase without touching the accelerator pedal make such a difference to rapid materials handling and, overall, the build quality of the machine was excellent.

The massive torque at low revs saves having to rev the engine hard with a load aboard and there’s no reason providing the Volvo is regularly maintained it shouldn’t provide thousands of hours of reliable performance.


Sany SCP160C specs

Make/Model: Sany SCP160C

Max. load: 16,000kg

Truck tare weight: 24,400kg

Load centre: 1,200mm

Max. lift height: 4,000mm

Max. height: 5,710mm

Max. lift speed: 350/400mm per second laden/unladen

Max. lowering speed: 400/400mm per second

Max. travel speed: 28km/h laden, 30km/h unladen

Gradeability: 30 per cent laden /40 per cent unladen

Min. turning radius: 5,100mm

Overall length including fork: 8,070mm

Overall width: 2,675mm

Overall height: 3,760mm

Wheelbase: 3,750mm

Engine: Volvo TAD620VE

Displacement: 5,130cc

Max. power: 145kW @ 2,300rpm

Max. torque: 900Nm @ 1,200rpm


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