Reducing dust and fumes in their packhouse while maintaining continuous production were priorities for quality food producers AB Produce PLC when they replaced their fleet of 11 diesel and electric fork-lift trucks.
So the company switched to AvantiGas LPG to power the four FLTs destined for the packhouse. And now that the gas-powered trucks have proved their worth, they are so happy with their decision that there could be more to come.
AB Produce cleans, grades and packs around 1,000 tonnes of potatoes a week plus a range of other prepared vegetables at its state-of-the art factory in Measham, Leicestershire for supermarkets and food service customers.
Andrew Horsfield, Business Development Manager at the 70,000-square-foot facility, didn’t want diesel FLTs for the packhouse but he also knew from experience that electric FLTs were not a good alternative for them. LPG proved the more desirable solution in such a sensitive and continually active area:
“The issue with electric FLTs is that, on a heavy shift pattern like Christmas – when we might be working 24-hours a day – they might last eight hours and take eight hours to charge, so we if we have pairs of trucks to cover all shifts, that doesn’t work for us.
“Plus the discipline needed with electric trucks was a problem. When you start getting behind, then you start short-charging and that just trashes the batteries. With an LPG fork-lift you just fill it up when you need to. I was assured that, come Christmas when we’re using more of it, the tank would get filled up more often, and I assume it did because it never ran out.”
The switch to four 1.8 tonne capacity LPG trucks not only created a better environment for AB’s produce but benefitted the workforce too.
“There’s less fumes and, because LPG FLTs don’t have the same level of torque, there’s not as much wheelspin, so we’re not getting as much tyre dust either.”
Mr Horsfield acknowledges that the dust reduction is also down to transmission protection installed on the FLTs to prevent drivers from flicking straight from forward to reverse without braking. Another eco-friendly innovation was to install a seat cut-off on trucks, so that if a driver leaves the truck it automatically cuts the engine after 30 seconds.
Now the four LPG trucks lift the one-tonne pallets that load potatoes and prepared vegetables into refrigerated lorries to transport them to customers all over the UK.
But having decided that LPG was the best power source for this application, what made the company choose AvantiGas as their provider? “There was less commitment time-wise in the AvantiGas deal – and we got the best price deal as well,” says Mr Horsfield. Plus our industry-leading Complete Fork-lift Solution ticks every box on engineering excellence for the bespoke installation, and for the training that follows, to keep routine operations running smoothly. Once the contract was signed, AvantiGas sent in experts to train AB Produce staff, “training the trainers” on how to handle LPG so that staff could confidently refuel their LPG trucks in complete safety.
“Yes – that worked well…The other thing is, the LPG is under pressure so you can hear it, you can smell it, you can sort of feel it, and the main concern is to avoid naked flames – but because it is what it is, people understand that.”
All this is backed by a 24/7 service if ever an emergency arises, so AB Produce know they are always in safe hands, and we provide a maintenance programme tailored to every individual site. As for maintaining a continuous, trouble-free fuel supply, thanks to our in-house forecasting technology Mr Horsfield is very happy to admit “I don’t have a lot of involvement” – and that’s just the way he likes it:
“The invoice lands on my desk once a month. The tankers turn up on a regular basis and I don’t have to monitor the tank… It doesn’t worry me, because we’ve not had a problem. In the first few weeks I kept an eye on what was happening but after that it’s not been a hassle to me. I don’t want to know.”
And the final vote of confidence? Expansion of the LPG fleet will be under consideration, says Mr Horsfield, “when we come to change trucks again… swapping some of the harder-working diesel trucks for LPG ones.”
If you'd like to find out more about our complete FLT solution, contact us on +0808 208 0000 or click here