Sector: Pet food.
Company: saturn petcare is one of the leading pet food manufacturers in Europe, producing brands in all major pet food categories.
Challenge: Convert the fleet of trucks from lead-acid to lithium-ion.
Products: Lithium-ion truck fleet including RX 20 electric forklift trucks, FM-X reach trucks with full cab, EXV high lift pallet trucks and EXU low lift pallet trucks.
saturn petcare, a pet food manufacturer based in the Dutch town of Hattem, has recently upgraded its intralogistics fleet. The new STILL trucks are all equipped with lithium-ion batteries, representing another crucial step for the company in its efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and improve sustainability. The fact that STILL trucks are maintenance-free and clean to operate are highly welcome additional benefits.
“We actually wanted to switch to lithium-ion seven years ago, but it was not the right time,” explains Supply Chain Manager Wouter Heijink. His colleague and Material Handling Team Leader George van Erven nods in agreement. “Not all models were available with lithium-ion technology at that time, and the suppliers had too little experience with the technology. It’s different now.” Two years ago, the five-year lease contract that saturn petcare had with STILL for 15 reach trucks, forklift trucks, and high and low lift pallet trucks expired. Changing supplier at the height of the pandemic was not an option given the delivery times for new forklifts and the uncertain market conditions. “We decided to extend the contracts, which was the right decision given the high quality of the trucks and the great service we experienced at STILL,” Heijink continues. “We did, however, look into the possibilities of lithium-ion technology in advance and got hold of demonstration models from various manufacturers.”
30 tonnes of CO2 saved
When comparing lead-acid and lithium-ion using the STILL Li-Ion usage calculator, the sustainability of lithium-ion technology was very clear to see due to its higher energy efficiency. The option of interim charging also eliminates the need to change the batteries. “The lower electricity consumption saves 30 tonnes of CO2 ,” explains Heijink. “This is fully in line with our commitment to sustainability and the optimisation of our internal processes. We recently installed solar panels for the same reason.”
Following the tender in 2022, STILL was again selected as a supplier. Recently, all the trucks have become available as lithium-ion models, and the operators also decided in favour of this version. George van Erven: “The operation of the mast functions, the cabin and the visibility through the mast are all decisive factors for our operators. However, the proven quality of the forklifts and the service provided also play a key role. The STILL service technicians are familiar with how we operate, take care of any necessary work themselves and keep the forklifts safe and ready for use.”
New (interim) charging schedule
The trucks fit effortlessly into the day-to-day processes at saturn petcare. Depending on the area, the trucks are operated for up to three shifts. However, the operators had to get used to the (interim) charging of the lithium-ion batteries. “After quickly realising that the trucks were difficult to operate on low battery power, operators began to see the benefits of interim charging,” explains Van Erven. “During breaks and at times when the forklifts are not in use for a while, they are always put on charge. This ensures that they are ready for use throughout the day, even during the very busy early shift.”
As saturn petcare’s experience shows, a major advantage of these batteries is that they are maintenance-free. No gases are released during the charging process, there is no risk of battery acid leaking, and refilling is not required. This meant it was no longer necessary to have a central battery charging point can be charged at the point of use.
If the forklifts get used even more intensively, requiring a faster charging process, the chargers can be upgraded from 16 A to 32 A. “This gives us added peace of mind,” concludes Wouter Heijink. “These forklifts allow us to work more cleanly, more sustainably and more efficiently. Our operators love working with them, too. What more could you ask for?”