Forklift battery life in top gear for Kimberly-Clark

1 min read

Good initial specification and improved operational management has enabled Kimberly-Clark to retain a fleet of forklift trucks and batteries, many of which are nine years old.

A review of materials handling requirements at the nappy manufacturer's Barton-on-Humber plant resulted in the decision to retain the forklift trucks and batteries, rather than purchase new equipment. "We have been extremely pleased with the performance of the equipment and the service we have received from EnerSys and the truck manufacturer," says Claire Hambling, supply chain coordinator at Kimberly-Clark, Barton-on-Humber. "It's a combination of suppliers that have delivered consistently." Materials handling operations are split between two parts of the site, one managed by Kimberly-Clark and the other by its supply chain partner Unipart Logistics. All of the trucks are owned by Kimberly-Clark and many were delivered in 2003 with the remainder during 2005. Since then the fleet has remained largely the same although production – and handling demands – have increased significantly. The Barton plant was one of the first to be equipped with Hawker LifePlus and Powertech high frequency chargers and this has helped the batteries to achieve their long service life. The chargers are matched to the batteries; they detect the level of discharge and supply only the amount of power needed to restore full charge. This means less mains power is required and there is reduced risk of overcharging. Both types of charger accommodate batteries of different capacities – ideal for a site like Barton with its mix of counterbalance and reach trucks, order pickers and pallet transporters. "We'd had very little truck downtime and they were still giving us nine hours use," says Hambling. "We knew the combination of trucks and batteries and wanted to show that extending the contract was best." Two key changes were made to the way the batteries are used. Batteries are now checked and topped regularly as part of a proper process, reducing the risk of overcharging. In the past batteries were not always checked if they were busy at work when the service engineer was on site. The second change was to introduce fixed charging. This means a driver must bring the truck in for a battery change at a specific time irrespective of the amount of discharge. "The equipment is much older than normal but if you wanted to see where batteries have a hard life this is a good place to come," says Hambling.