Schneider Electric has partnered with forklift retailer Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) for more than 15 years. In a world-first for Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation has deployed Toyota’s Lithium Ion forklifts at its distribution centre in Ingleburn, NSW. MHD finds out more.
Schneider Electric’s distribution centre (DC) in Ingleburn, in Sydney’s west is a global showpiece of safety and sustainability.
“We are committed to sustainability at every level of our organisation. We are committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2025 and to net zero operational emissions by 2030, and a net-zero supply chain by 2050,” Romain Bernard, Sydney Distribution Centre Manager at Schneider Electric tells MHD.
As the material handling industry continues to evolve and look for innovative solutions with regards to safety and efficiency, the world’s leading forklift manufacturer Toyota is committed to staying ahead of the curve with regards to delivering innovative power technology to fit-for-purpose applications such as Schneider Electric’s operation at Ingleburn.
Schneider Electric, the global energy management and automation specialist, has committed to sustainable practices and the UN sustainable development goals for more than 15 years. The company has been recognised for its commitment to sustainability and was honoured in January this year as the world’s most sustainable corporation by Corporate Knights as well as ranked fourth in The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 in 2020.
The Ingleburn DC features a number of sustainability initiatives including rooftop solar and site energy reduction initiatives, all enabled by Schneider’s technology. As part of the overall strategy of safety, sustainability and continuous improvement, Schneider Electric has upgraded its forklift fleet to Toyota’s Lithium Ion forklifts.
“From 2012, we have been working with Schneider to explore low maintenance battery options, and we’ve progressed to this point of being able to now offer Lithium Ion power solutions,” Neil Nand, Corporate Account Manager at TMHA says.
Schneider Electric and TMHA share a philosophy and commitment to continuous improvement.
“Toyota’s value of ‘Kaizen’, the Japanese word for continuous improvement, also resonates with Schneider Electric. They never rest on their laurels and are always looking for ways to improve safety and the environment for their employees and the industry at large,” Neil says.
The power of Lithium Ion
Neil has worked as the TMHA Corporate Account Manager for Schneider Electric for more than 15 years and says as an organisation they are always looking ahead with regards to the latest innovations around technology and safety.
A driving force behind Schneider Electric’s desire to explore Lithium Ion forklifts was the requirement to reduce operator maintenance with regard to batteries.
As part of a benchmarking exercise, Romain says that Schneider Electric realised that along with a desire to avoid lead acid batteries, they found that the lead acid forklifts were not running as efficiently as they hoped.
“We wanted to have equipment that was much more efficient in terms of energy, but also to find technology that featured continuous improvement and helped us in our commitment to building a green DC,” Romain says.
The forklifts feature a very stable voltage, resulting in maximum performance for the whole discharge cycle.
A further benefit is that they are fast charging. When using a three-phase charger a full charge will only take 60 minutes. There is also no need for topping up water.
Schneider Electric has deployed 23 Lithium Ion reach forklifts at Ingleburn, along with a fleet of counter-balance units.
The forklifts will primarily be used to service 10.5-metre high racking, storing and receiving pallets. Working at such heights requires an enhanced commitment to safety and Schneider and Toyota worked together on further safety features for the forklifts.
“TMHA worked closely with Schneider Electric to modify the forklifts to include cameras and safety lights as a warning for pedestrians around the forklifts. We have also ensured that the fleet management system included safety features,” Neil says.
“When we are picking at 10.5-metres high, safety is our number one priority and these forklifts give us the peace of mind in knowing that our operators and employees are safe,” Romain says.
The deployment of Toyota’s Lithium Ion forklifts is a world-first for Schneider Electric and the Ingleburn DC will operate as a test case for the rest of Australia and worldwide.
The Ingleburn DC is a showcase of safety and sustainability and the facility has already delivered some impressive efficiency and sustainability results.
“Our energy efficiency targets are bold but achievable. We want to improve energy efficiency by 3.3 per cent year-on-year. We want to save 18 tonnes of CO2 from energy efficient projects and reach a goal of 90 per cent renewable energy in 2021,” Romain says.
The new Toyota Lithium Ion forklift fleet is a key initiative to supporting sustainability and energy management initiatives.
“This translates to approximately 50,000kWh of energy use will be saved every year, which we estimate as 37 tonnes of CO2,” Romain says.
There is also no need for topping up water, and zero requirement for battery maintenance. They also feature a longer lifetime.
Schneider Electric will also meter the forklift charging stations to determine further opportunities to improve on these sustainability and energy savings.
“The metering allows us to easily identify any anomalies of energy usage, analyse usage compared to expected savings from initiatives, and work out how we can even further improve our sustainability outcomes,” Romain explains.
With Kaizen, or continuous improvement, a major focus for both organisations, this is just the beginning for Schneider Electric and Toyota Material Handling.
“This is a big step for us, and we’re proud to be one of the first organisations in Australia to explore this innovative technology at our distribution centre,” Romain says.
“But we will continue to work with Toyota to explore more ways we can improve safety, sustainability and energy efficiency.” ■
For more information on Toyota’s lithium-ion forklifts freecall Toyota Material Handling Australia on 1800 425 438 or visit their web site on www.toyotamaterialhandling.com.au.