With the commissioning of a new and much larger hub, PalletXpress Dublin, has switched from diesel to 3 ton electric forklift trucks with li-ion battery. With the partnership of 24 transport companies and the use of 12 EP Equipment forklifts every day they effortlessly move around 2,500 pallets per night. This is only achievable thanks to opportunity charging, which enables the use of the machines around the clock.
From around six o’clock in the evening, the flow of trucks at the PalletXpress hub in Dublin slowly swells up. From all of Ireland, UK and Europe, the members bring in the pallets which are handled by the hub and cross docked onto each member’s vehicle. During this process the inbound vehicles are unloaded in the 130,000 square foot facility and, where possible, immediately reloaded for their final destination. This operation takes place over a 20-hour working day via a 3-shift pattern with its peak between 6PM and 3AM ensuring all freight is available for next day delivery throughout the country.
GREEN AMBITIONS FULFILLED
“They have been driving to our full satisfaction since the start of this hub and every time I see them, I am proud that we have succeeded”, says PalletXpress Managing Director Tom Carr while the swarm of blue electric trucks is buzzing around the double deck trailers. “With the construction of our new hub, we really wanted to take a step forward and make our Green Ambitions a reality. Diesel trucks out, solar panels on the roof and as much paperless work as possible.”
Meanwhile, the first set of panels is generating power for the office and lighting, the paper consumption has been reduced by more than 50% and there are 12 EP L1 3 tonners supplied by EP Equipment Dealer Clearlift through long-term rental. The hub also houses several member companies of the network. They have also become convinced of the use of EP electric trucks with a li-ion battery as a result Clearlift have been able to supply 6 extra trucks to these companies, bringing the total to 18 at present in the facility.
PREJUDICE AND LIMITATIONS
The forklift market in Ireland is divided into two camps: one camp runs diesel, the other electric. LPG trucks are a rarity and due to environmental and health issues surrounding diesel, many companies are considering a switch to electric traction. The cost advantage of electric driving is attractive, but potential changeovers are often still struggling with the prejudices. “That was true for us too,” says Operations Manager Ray Kavanagh directly. “We’ve been testing ‘Wet Electric’ or conventional lead-acid batteries, but we’d also need additional spare batteries. This was not an option for us because of the time wasted on swapping batteries, the risk factor in handling and the great care taken in maintaining and using the batteries correctly. We then tested some well-known brands of li-ion trucks, but they were not to the driver’s liking and they were very expensive. The arrival of a demo with an EP truck has completely changed the mood.”
Ray Kavanagh, Operations Manager PalletXpress: “The total package of trucks, advice, service from EP and Clearlift is just very good.”
Because a 3-ton lift truck was not yet available, EP-dealer Clearlift delivered some 2-ton li-ion trucks for a test drive. The trucks were put through their paces for three weeks. The completely maintenance free 48V li-ion battery with 360 Ah capacity was sufficient for the intensive use at PalletXpress. “That didn’t happen by itself”, Ray Kavanagh continues honestly. “The drivers had to get used to putting the trucks on the charger every break, because only then could we easily achieve the requirements of our operation. However, the advantages of the new truck were so great that they got used to it within a week.”
The arrival of the 3 ton EP trucks has only improved the situation at PalletXpress. The stronger trucks are equipped with a larger 80V 540 Ah battery and have more stamina. Still, they go to the charger in the break time, because that routine is now completely in place. It ensures that the trucks are always ready for a solid deployment. If necessary, an almost empty battery will be full again after 2.5 hours of charging. Ray Kavanagh: “The battery is also really maintenance-free and worry-free. Thanks to the perfect service of the Clearlift mechanic, we have not missed a single moment.”
PRODUCTIVE AND ERGONOMIC
The advantages of the EP lithium-ion trucks are not limited to a carefree and clean operation alone. Thanks to the integration of the battery in the truck, they have an extremely large foot space and a low, ergonomic entrance. The power and responsiveness of both the drive and lift pump motors ensured the equivalent working speed required to complete the intensive loading and unloading process within the set time. The view through the mast and the overhead guard are also very positive for the drivers. Almost all trailers at PalletXpress are double-deck, which requires an unobstructed view up to the second level. Tom Carr: “It’s going perfectly, and that without exhaust fumes and engine noise. Only when you make such a switch, do you experience how stressful the conditions were before. Nobody inside the hub wants to go back to diesel anymore.” Ray Kavanagh adds: “And the drivers are also clear: they call them The Best Trucks ever!”
Tom Carr, Managing Director PalletXpress: “The switch to EP lithium-ion trucks has been a more than successful decision.”
Clearlift owner Jonathan Savage hears the reactions of PalletXpress with a smile. The success of the EP lithium-ion trucks has led him to intensify the battle with the diesel trucks. “We also supply EP diesel trucks, which are as indestructible as they are reliable,” he says. “Yet you can see that in many respects the electric truck wins over the IC truck. Especially in view of the analysis possibilities offered by the lithium-ion battery. It stores everything related to the daily work and with this data every customer can further improve his application. Not only is electric driving much more economical, it also allows you to control your processes much better.”
Tom Carr agrees with his supplier. “We are seeing the deployment costs fall and that will become even more interesting in the long run if we install more solar panels on our roofs. We are doing this step by step, but the conclusion is already clear to us: the switch to EP lithium-ion trucks has been a more than successful decision.”