New batteries and chargers eliminate equipment “nightmares”

A 24/7 facility modernizes its fleet to achieve sustainability objectives without compromising customer service.

By ·

Piazza Produce is a produce distribution company based in Indianapolis that delivers fresh produce and specialty foods to more than 150 cities across four states. Scott Lutocka, the new facilities and sustainability manager, identified a host of equipment challenges and breakdowns including multiple lift truck battery failures. However, the company’s 24/7 warehouse was able to transition to new batteries and charger systems without downtime.

“These changes instantly made our nightmares go away, and we were able to focus on additional efficiency opportunities,” says Lutocka, who adds that his driving force is to make the company sustainable with a goal of achieving zero-waste status. “These chargers are reliable workhorses that helped improve warehouse conditions significantly. There’s also inherent value in purchasing quality equipment that lasts for years without having to make unnecessary early replacements.”

Knowing that short cycling is dangerous and costly, Piazza Produce purchased 10 four-circuit chargers (Ametek Prestolite Power) for its existing riding pallet jacks along with 45 new pallet jacks, bringing its fleet to 60. The DC’s original charging area was grossly undersized, and they knew replacing chargers would require new space in the warehouse. Since they couldn’t afford downtime to switch out existing equipment, they worked with electricians to design a new area that would keep the fleet working in its 24/7 environment. Once the entire new fleet of batteries and chargers were up and running, the team conducted training with all shifts of employees, ensuring the proper methods of charging and equipment maintenance.

“Once the system was functional, we immediately saw benefits in efficiency with more than two hours of time savings for night shifts going out for delivery the next day,” Lutocka says. “In spite of the size of the project, everything went smoothly.”

With the fleet’s daily use factor so high, short charges have been stopped and the life cycle of each battery is still on track to continue for years to come.

About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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