Casebook 2011: Rugged lift trucks have the cure cold environments
The cold environment of refrigerated and freezer warehousing is a challenge for warehouse equipment, facility managers and employees. For two new facilities, U.S. Cold Storage chose lift truck fleets (The Raymond Corporation, 800-235-7200, http://www.raymondcorp.com) capable of withstanding brutal cold and a demanding schedule.
The company has 110 years of experience with refrigerated warehouse operations and the toll they can take on equipment and personnel. In the two new facilities, the company installed a total of 71 trucks—including reach trucks, sit-down and stand-up counterbalanced lift trucks, orderpickers, and pallet trucks—to handle a combined 100 million pounds of product per month.
Jim Duffy, regional chief engineer for U.S. Cold Storage, says lift trucks are the lifeblood of his distribution process. The facilities run as much as 16 to 18 hours per day, seven days per week. To ensure longevity, all of U.S. Cold Storage’s narrow aisle lift trucks feature a cold storage conditioning package, which protects the control systems on the trucks.
Aside from cold weather precautions, the trucks are also fitted with technology to simplify putaway on 40-foot-tall, double-deep racks. A color imaging system includes a camera mounted on the forks of the lift truck and a screen mounted in the operator compartment.
The reach trucks are equipped with heated control handles and heated floor cushions to keep operators more comfortable when maneuvering in frigid temperatures and even in blast-freezing operations, where the mercury can dip to 40 degrees below zero.
“Anything we can do to help the operators feel more comfortable in this environment is a bonus,” Duffy says. “We know the operators appreciate it, and the added comfort may make them a little more productive as well.”