Sennebogen’s material handler is purpose-built for barges: The choice for productivity and versatility

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Sennebogen material handler loading barge

The long reach of the 860 R-HD often allows the operator to move the complete load without having to reposition the machine or the barge.

SPONSORED CONTENT: As president of Guntersville Marine Services, Inc., Mike Lueken is keenly aware of the dramatic changes in material handling equipment over the past thirty years. “The evolution of material handlers has gone so much faster than what we’ve seen on the automotive side. Thirty years ago, every terminal was loading and unloading with a cable crane and a clamshell bucket. Then, we went through some smaller hydraulic excavators. We feel very fortunate with this purchase that, once again, we’re on the cutting edge and looking forward.”

“This purchase” is the SENNEBOGEN 860 R-HD material handler that was recently commissioned for Guntersville Marine’s terminal at Mile 358 on the Tennessee River. The 860 is a giant 192,900 lb (87,500 kg) purpose-built material handler mounted on a crawler undercarriage. Powered by a 350 HP (261 kW) Cummins engine, the boom and stick on the 860 can reach almost 60 feet across and into the barges. It can lift at least 10 tons in any direction.

“Purpose built” for barge work
Lueken explains, “We were impressed with the fact that it is a material handler – built and designed that way. We looked at a variety of pieces to add to our terminal but, after looking at all the options, SENNEBOGEN was the clear choice. We chose it for the versatility and the economy it brings to our operation.”

Lueken has no trouble keeping the big green machine busy. Guntersville Marine is a full-service terminal providing load, unload, fleeting, switching, and storage services. “We handle a high percentage of the barges on the river,” he says. “We’ll have upward of 100 barges up here at any given time. Of those, 60 will be here for loading, 35 for outbound tows, plus some bound for other customers in the area. The majority is discharged here, which is what led us to purchase the SENNEBOGEN.”

Reach for productivity
The long reach of the 860 was a compelling feature for the Guntersville terminal. “The long reach lets you get all the way over to the other side of the barge, to the outside wall and move the material directly to truck or conveyor.”

“If we have a barge filled with some agricultural product and we are transferring from barge to truck, often times you’ll get to that position where you either have to move your material handler along the dock wall or move the barge. If our push boats are busy, we would have to wait on that movement to be completed before we could continue production. With this SENNEBOGEN, it has the reach so we don’t have to move anywhere near the frequency that we did before – if at all! With a skid steer in there to move the product from the end of the barge, we can maintain the fast lifting cycle of the 860 without repositioning.”

Sense of balance 
No one is happier with the new machine than its operators. As Lueken reports, “Whenever you bring in a new piece of equipment, your operators are instantly attracted to it. What you hear immediately is either they absolutely love it and ‘thank you’, or you hear ‘whatever made you buy this?’ You hear it all in the first 30 days, but we’ve had nothing but accolades on this SENNEBOGEN since we put it into service.”

Unlike similar machines, SENNEBOGEN material handlers are built on a square footprint, with the slewing ring exactly centered on the platform. As a result, the load limits are the same through 360o of swing. It’s a difference that operators noticed right away. “They love the balance of the machine,” says Lueken. “It gives them the confidence to be able to lift in all directions without worrying about the length of the reach from side to side on the barge or for placing the load on the dock or into a truck. That’s a huge advantage. We run a very safe operation. Safety – that’s what comes first. They have a great line of sight, and the operator doesn’t get distracted because he feels uneasy with the extended reach. All of that has been totally eliminated.” 

Quick-change versatility
“The other thing we’ve learned is the value of the ability to quickly change the attachments on the equipment,” Lueken continues. “Whether we’re using one of the clamshells, a hook, or forks, time is money and we aren’t wasting any time. We even have a 25 kW generator onboard so we can switch to a magnet. We now have our own version of a Swiss Army Knife! Given the cycle times and the flexibility we have, we can shave off 20% of our unloading time, depending on the product. The speed and versatility have increased the capacity and capability of our facility. We touch the water loading and unloading barges at six different places in this terminal, but the SENNEBOGEN is a piece that we use most frequently now.”

“Hybrid” savings
The 860 is one of SENNEBOGEN’s new “Green Hybrid” models, featuring a unique energy recapture system. A large hydraulic cylinder, centered between the booms’ two lift cylinders, uses the weight of the boom on each downstroke, to compress inert gas into storage cells at the rear of the upper carriage. On the next upstroke, the compressed air drives hydraulic fluid back to the recovery cylinder to assist in lifting the load. The system is ideally suited to applications with frequent “up & down” cycles, such as barge loading. This process typically reduces the machine’s fuel consumption by about 30%. Lueken looks forward to seeing the effect on his operating costs. “Diesel prices have been fluctuating, and we had that fiasco with the pipeline, so we haven’t yet been able to do a detailed analysis. But so far it looks favorable. The savings on fuel are and were certainly an incentive for us to buy a SENNEBOGEN.” 

Looking forward
The capabilities of the machine are only as good as its reliability, but Lueken has no concerns there, either. “We started operating the 860 in the first week of April 2021.The commissioning, service, and orientation were very smooth. I can’t say enough about Tractor Equipment Company (TEC). They are doing all the service. It’s changed a lot from 30 years ago, when everyone did their own service.” The terminal had worked with the dealer in the past with previous purchases of Komatsu equipment. “TEC has been great to work with. They understand that if the machine’s not running, it’s costing us money. They’ll be out here soon for the machine’s first 250-hour service. Looking forward, we’re definitely looking at SENNEBOGEN on a replacement basis.”

SENNEBOGEN has been a leading name in the global material handling industry for over 65 years. Based in Stanley, North Carolina, within the greater Charlotte region, SENNEBOGEN LLC offers a complete range of purpose-built machines to suit virtually any material handling application. Established in America in the year 2000, SENNEBOGEN LLC has quickly become a leading provider of specialized equipment solutions for recycling and scrap metal yards, demolition, barge and port operations, log-handling, transfer stations, waste facilities and the tree care industry from coast to coast. A growing network of distributors supports SENNEBOGEN LLC sales and service across the Americas, ensuring the highest standard of professional machine support and parts availability.

For more information on the full line of SENNEBOGEN material handlers, contact:

1957 Sennebogen Trail
Stanley, NC 28164
Tel: (704) 347-4910 or fax (704) 347-8894
Visit the website at

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