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Safer, more economical, battery regime for Wincanton

Wincanton has switched to the EnerSys Hawker brand of batteries for the entire lift truck fleet at its national chilled distribution centre (NDC) in Gloucester.

Wincanton changed suppliers because of the superior quality of service offered by Hawker, and the company's ability to supply and maintain batteries, plus ancillary systems and equipment, at a fixed cost over a five year period, with no 'hidden extras'. The fully-powered battery changing system that Hawker has also installed is much less labour- intensive, and significantly safer, than the previous manual handling operation. The new regime, which includes a 'smart' battery management system, offers extended battery life and increased productivity.

Wincanton's Gloucester NDC is a multi-user site, with customers including major supermarkets and manufacturers, handling chilled and ambient food products for distribution nationwide. The NDC has a 102,000-location automated store, served by 12 low- and high-bay cranes, with 1932 picking faces. An ambient goods store has 4420 pallet locations and a chill store, at +2oC to 5oC, has 1780 locations. The ambient and chill stores are served by 40 powered pallet transporters, 22 of which operate on a mezzanine, and 23 low-level order pickers. The site also has 20 electric counterbalance trucks that, along with the pallet transporters, are used to load and offload lorries. The site operates round the clock, seven days a week and is currently picking and despatching almost 1.9 million cases per week.

Hawker has supplied two PerfectPlus high performance batteries for each of the electric trucks. The charging areas, on the ground floor and mezzanine, are equipped with Hawker's Powertech high frequency (HF) chargers, which offer outstanding energy efficiency – as much as 25 per cent higher than 50 Hz chargers. The chargers automatically detect the battery's level of discharge and will supply only the amount of power needed – and no more – to restore full charge. This means less mains power is required to charge a battery. Thus the energy costs per charge are considerably reduced, leading to significant savings in electricity costs. The chargers serving the batteries used on the trucks operating in the chill stores are specially programmed to accommodate low battery temperatures.

A further benefit of the Powertech charger is its low weight and compact dimensions – it can be conveniently wall-mounted. This has enabled Wincanton to halve the space used for the battery charging area.

The 'intelligent' diagnostic software in the Powertech chargers forms part of a computerised Battery Fleet Management system. Data is transmitted to a large display screen installed in the main battery changing area. The display clearly indicates the order in which batteries, for each type of truck, should be retrieved, ensuring that only fully-charged units are taken. This makes certain that all batteries receive the correct amount of charge before being used, and that the batteries are systematically rotated, overcoming the potential problem of operators simply taking the nearest available battery, regardless of its true state of charge. Correct rotation considerably extends battery life.

Battery changing in the main charging room is undertaken with Hawker's Pro-Series BBH semi-automated change cart. This electrically driven device runs on concealed rails between the banks of chargers, using a powerful extending electro-magnet to extract the battery from the truck onto its on-board roller bed and then push it into place for charging. The whole battery change process is a very quick and simple one-man job, which again helps sustain truck uptime. The Pro Series BBH involves no potentially injurious manual handling.

“The previous manual battery change operation was potentially risky,” says DC Manager Mark Ford, “particularly with batteries weighing as much as one tonne. It was also labour intensive; for example it needed two people to change certain batteries. With the Hawker system it's now a one man job, which has greatly improved productivity.”

One of the main reasons for Wincanton switching to Hawker, however, was the level of ongoing technical and service support the company offered, ” explains Wincanton's Engineering Services Manager Tony Stewart, who is responsible for specifying all mechanical handling equipment for Wincanton in the UK. “There will be no hidden costs through the period of the contract, particularly relating to service. And Hawker after sales service is arguably the best in the business.”

ABOUT HAWKER
Hawker is the widely-recognised Motive Power brand of EnerSys, a leading supplier of batteries, chargers and services. EnerSys is the world leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications. EnerSys manufactures and distributes batteries, chargers, power equipment, and battery accessories to customers worldwide. The company also provides aftermarket and customer support services to its customers from over 100 countries through its sales and manufacturing locations around the world.

More information on Hawker can be found at: www.enersys-hawker.com
More information regarding EnerSys can be found at www.enersys.com.

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