Safer charging

Published:  07 August, 2014

Concerns over the safety of the lift truck battery changing process led Sharpak to switch forklift suppliers and introduce a fleet of Jungheinrich electric-powered counterbalanced, powered pallet and reach trucks. PWE reports.

Several million plastic trays are produced each day at the Yate facility in Gloucestershire for a range of customers in the food-processing sector. The factory and finished goods warehouse sit side-by-side on the same site and the materials handling equipment in operation there is used to undertake a broad range of tasks.

Within the factory side of the building, for example, counterbalanced trucks are required to unload incoming raw materials, which can be palletised or delivered in bulk bags. Meanwhile on the other side of the dividing wall which separates the factory from the pallet capacity very narrow aisle finished goods store, counterbalanced and powered pallet trucks deliver palletised loads to the racking, collate orders in the loading bay marshaling area and load outgoing delivery wagons in the yard.

Because it serves the food sector, Sharpak has to adhere to strict hygiene regulations and, as a result, all the materials handling equipment employed across the site is electric-powered. An efficient battery charging and changing regime is therefore essential.

Battery changing and re-charging takes place within a dedicated area of the building, but during a routine battery swap an experienced lift truck operator managed to spill the battery she was removing from a counterbalanced truck on to the floor.

The subsequent battery acid clean up process was costly and disruptive to Sharpak’s intralogistics processes, and, as the mishap occurred a matter of months before its existing and long-standing contract with another forklift manufacturer was due to end, Sharpak decided to seek a forklift truck provider that could offer a system capable of avoiding any chance of a repeat.

Karl Traynor commented: “Our forklift supplier at the time of the accident – who had been our supplier for some 20 years – shrugged the event off as human error,” recalls Sharpak Yates’s logistics manager.

“Of course, people are responsible for 99.9 per cent of all accidents but we wanted to see if there was something available that minimized the likelihood of the same thing happening again.”

The solution came in the shape of trucks from Jungheinrich’s EFG Series fitted with Jungheinrich’s SnapFit battery changing mechanism.

The SnapFit device locks to the underside of a 48 or 80 Volt battery to allow the battery to be removed easily, quickly and safely. All the operator needs to do is position the battery removing truck directly below the battery, at which point the SnapFit system automatically locks the battery into place. The battery is guided into position by rollers, which means it cannot get wedged in during battery changing. The system ensures the battery is safely fixed on the ‘removing’ truck during removal and transportation.

Traynor explained: “The SnapFit system is a simple but highly effective piece of design that is not only safe but also speeds up the battery changing process.”

The Jungheinrich trucks also offered operational efficiency benefits that Sharpak’s existing provider couldn’t match.

The EFG Series trucks feature fourth generation AC technology that gives the trucks an exceptional efficiency ratio and constantly low energy consumption. The low energy costs are further reduced through energy reclamation during braking which extends the time that trucks operate for between battery charges.

Fourth generation technology also enables trucks to accelerate far more quickly than less advanced systems – which means more loads can be moved per shift.

For further information please visit: www.jungheinrich.co.uk

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