Pall-Ex, the UK's leading pallet distribution network, recently upgraded the forklift truck fleet at its £12m Leicestershire hub with a new fleet of 36 CNG powered Hyster Fortens™ trucks from Barloworld Handling. The new fleet replaces the company's existing fleet of Hyster XM forklifts and is thought to be the largest CNG powered fleet in Europe.
A crucial factor in Pall-Ex's decision to award the new contract to Barloworld was that they have provided a highly effective solution for Pall-Ex over the past three years. In particular Pall-Ex have been very pleased the performance and reliability provided by the Hyster trucks and Barloworld's fleet management solution in what is one of the most demanding lift truck environments around.
The 267,000 sq ft Leicestershire hub is a massive overnight transhipment hub for the third party distribution of palletised consignments. Every night the lift truck fleet handles up to 9000 palletised loads. Incoming freight is unloaded, broken down, sorted into new outgoing consignments and then reloaded for next day delivery to their final destinations. Due to the tremendous pressure of the Pall-Ex workload each forklift may be required to shift up to 50 pallets an hour during peak times, so it is a testament to the strength and reliability of the Hyster trucks that they have performed so well in such a high pressure environment.
Managing Director of Pall-Ex, Hilary Devey, says “Our forklifts are a crucial part of our 24-hour operation and must be able to perform in this highly challenging distribution environment. At the same time we were adamant that the highest environmental standards should be maintained inside the hub. Our investment in the very latest forklift technology is testament to Pall-Ex's continued commitment to maintaining the leading freight distribution hub in the sector”.
Latest technology adds real value
The new fleet consists of Hyster Fortens™ Advance H1.8FT models which are the most technologically advanced on the market today and will offer Pall-Ex significant safety,performance, servicing and reliability benefits. The trucks incorporate an Auto-Deceleration System (ADS) which is programmed to slow the trucks with varying degrees of deceleration when the brake pedal is released. This has a profound effect on driver comfort and productivity while also increasing brake lift by 60%.
The unique Duramatch™ transmission on the Fortens™ also helps to boost performance while reducing the operating costs associated with wear and tear, truck downtime and repairs. The power reversal feature is of particular benefit in a pallet distribution environment such as Pall-Ex because it allows even the most aggressive direction changes to be smooth, reducing truck and load damage, while increasing tyre life by up to 50%.
Barloworld and Michelin worked with Pall-Ex during rigorous trials to select the best all-round tyre performance package for the trucks and finally selected Michelin Stabil'X XZM pneumatic radial tyres. Compared to various alternatives the Stabil'X was shown to cut running costs by greatly extending tyre life, reducing tyre damage and lowering truck vibration to protect the machine and driver. The larger contact patch compared to a solid tyre also leads to improved grip for handling and braking particularly when the surface is wet or slippery.
Going green proves highly effective Pall-Ex has continued its commitment to providing the cleanest possible environment for its hub by specifying the CNG powered variant of the Fortens™. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is the cleanest burning fossil fuel available and provides major environmental benefits including very low emissions for drivers and operatives working throughout the facility. CNG also eliminates potential soot particle contamination of goods in transit which can be associated with diesel trucks and is of major benefit to customers shipping food or other sensitive goods.
Pall-Ex has run its entire fleet on CNG for the past three years and taken advantage of the relatively low fuel costs easily recouping the initial CNG set-up costs. Refuelling the trucks via pre-filled storage tanks is very fast and safe taking no longer than 2 minutes and unlike LPG the tanks remain on the truck so there is no manual handling required.
Barloworld fleet management is the key In such a highly pressurised environment truck uptime is crucial to the performance of the hub and its 100 depots. Barloworld's fully-equipped on-site workshop is manned by experienced resident engineers who carry out over 365 services a year on Pall-Ex trucks. At the centre of the operation is a close working relationship between Pall-Ex and Barloworld based on continuous improvement and openness from both sides. Barloworld's preventative maintenance programme minimises breakdown occurrence through early fault identification and regular professional servicing. Should a breakdown occur Barloworld are on hand to respond quickly and effectively to get any truck moving.
Cutting costs and saving downtime are always our policy drivers”, says Mark Pulford, Director of Operations at Pall-Ex “The new Hyster from Barloworld is a real workhorse but having onsite maintenance is a major bonus. When the hub is at full stretch every night, reliability is critical. Our customers expect quality of service and deliveries on time, so we need to be on top of our game everyday”.