Propane-fueled lift trucks rejuvenate facility’s efficiency

Casebook 2012: Easy refueling results in lower operating costs and increased profit for Chicago-area facility.

By ·

The Chicago facility of Marietta Corp., a leading manufacturer of hotel amenities and consumer-packaged goods, relies heavily on lift trucks for a range of warehouse operations, including shipping, production and receiving. When his company’s lift truck lease was due to expire in 2007, logistics distribution manager Jesse Gomez recommended a propane-based fleet. After a cost-benefit analysis comparing propane-fueled forklifts with incumbent electric-powered counterparts, the company leased 14 propane-fueled models and realized an immediate improvement in performance and operating costs.

“My staff is completing more work in fewer hours,” Gomez says, adding that sales at the plant have increased by $3 million, due in part to increased productivity afforded by propane-fueled forklifts.

While the facility’s work productivity had been limited by changing out and charging batteries, propane-fueled forklifts operate without refueling delays. The propane-fueled forklifts also offered a lower lease cost, saving Marietta $25,000 in initial upfront costs. Gomez says the facility also saved an additional $15,766 in the first three months alone due to reduced maintenance.

The forklift market has an established delivery infrastructure for propane refueling, which Marietta’s Chicago facility uses. The facility purchases propane from Atlas Mid-America, a local propane provider, and locks in six-month contract pricing, making fuel costs more predictable. Atlas delivers propane to the plant, refills empty propane cylinders on-site, and then stores them outdoors, allowing for an increased workspace inside. The facility previously ran two production lines per day, and has since been able to double that amount, so it can run 24 hours per day, seven days per week if necessary.

“I recommend propane-fueled forklifts to other organizations whenever I get a chance,” says Gomez. “I’ve seen other companies switch, and they are just as happy with their decision.”

Propane Education and Research Council (PERC)
202-452-8975
http://www.propanecouncil.org

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About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing 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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