The issue with electric fork-lift trucks 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… That doesn’t work for us. With an LPG fork-lift you just fill it up when you need to. Andrew Horsfield, Business Development Manager, AB Produce PLC.

Staff at AB Produce PLC clean, grade and pack around 1,000 tonnes of potatoes a week plus assorted prepared vegetables at their state-of-the-art, 70,000 sq. ft. factory at Measham in Leicestershire. When the company renewed its FLT fleet, Business Development Manager Andrew Horsfield opted for a partial switch to LPG-powered trucks in preference to electric or diesel. The switch has been seamless, successful and hassle-free.

THE CHALLENGE

In the AB Produce packhouse, diesel fumes are unwelcome and electric FLTs had proved unsuitable. Experience had shown that battery charging times meant there was insufficient cover during busy periods. This also meant that staff were tempted to ‘top up’ batteries before there were fully discharged, which can dramatically shorten battery life. The company needed an alternative power source that would be cleaner than diesel, more flexible than batteries, economical in running costs and reliably worry-free in terms of continuity of supply.

WHAT WE DID

AB Produce contacted AvantiGas, along with two national LPG competitors. AvantiGas won the business because our contract commitment was shorter, our prices were more competitive and our Complete Fork-lift Solution ticks every box on engineering excellence for the design and delivery of a bespoke installation, building on years of expertise with LPG for FLTs and an industry-leading record on safety. Once the contract was signed, AvantiGas sent in experts to train AB Produce staff so that they could confidently and safely refuel their LPG trucks. All this is backed by a 24/7 emergency service if ever a problem arises, so AB Foods know they are always in safe hands, and we provide a maintenance programme tailored to every individual site. AB management was assured that fuel supplies would always keep pace with demand, and this has commitment has been fulfilled without exception.

THE RESULTS

The four FLTs in the packhouse have contributed to a reduction in dust and fumes and have successfully met the company’s need for a fleet than can be available 24 hours a day at peak times. Fuel supplies for the LPG-powered FLTs has proved completely reliable and hassle-free thanks to our in-house forecasting technology. As Mr Horsfield puts it: “I don’t have to monitor the tank… It doesn’t worry me, because we’ve not had a problem… 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.”

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