With an annual turnover in excess of £170 million, Davies Turner is one of the UK’s leading logistics and freight forwarding businesses, operating across 23 branches and commanding over 1.6 million sq ft of warehousing space nationwide. Celebrating 150 years of successful growth in 2020, the company prides itself on its reputation for customer service, operational efficiency and environmental performance.
At the company’s Heathrow hub over 2 million kilos a month are processed in a 24/7 operation that demands maximum efficiency from its fleet of nine forklift trucks. Fast and efficient handling of consignments is critical to hitting the deadlines and rapid turnaround required. Under these pressing conditions the day-to-day performance of the handling equipment underpins the business – reliability is everything. Traditionally, gas powered vehicles are used in heavy lifting, in-door, multi-shift, applications. However when Davies Turner came to review their fleet in early 2018 they took the opportunity to explore the possibility of replacing their gas trucks with battery powered vehicles from Doosan. Importantly, the move would help support the business in its application for environmental standard ISO 14001 by offering cleaner, quieter, more environmentally friendly handling operations.
Davies Turner were confident that the Doosan electric trucks would be quieter and cleaner, however, their concern was whether electric trucks could perform as efficiently in a fast-moving environment. Importantly, too, how would the costs compare with gas? Would the outlay on the extra batteries needed for a three-shift operation make it cost-effective?
In the spring of 2018 Doosan’s latest feature-rich electric B35X-7 3.5 tonne counterbalance trucks were supplied, along with a spare high-capacity battery for each truck, backed up by Fronius chargers with an auto-fill facility for efficient battery management. Easy-access side panels on the trucks allowed for a fast changeover of batteries using a powered pallet truck, ensuring a continuous and reliable operation.
In addition to the 3.5 tonne capacity electric counterbalance trucks, a new Doosan BR16JW-7 1.6 tonne reach truck was supplied with a 6.5m mast, as well as a compact, Doosan B18X-7 1.8 capacity counterbalance truck – both well suited for duties within Davies Turner’s racked storage area.
However, the benefits of transitioning from gas to electric go far beyond a cleaner, quieter working environment. There is a significant cost difference too. The outlay of £15.00 per day per truck for gas has been replaced with the cost for charging a truck at £5 per day. ROI was achieved within 16 months.
The reduced downtime has been another major factor. With the electric trucks there are far fewer parts to maintain and you do not get the problem of overheating engines.
A further benefit is the Doosan Fleet Management System, which enables users to access up-to-the-moment information on their fleet, log breakdowns and reference maintenance records.
Health and safety was a vital consideration when it came to selecting Doosan as the supplier of choice across the fleet. In addition to Doosan’s comprehensive range of safety features, included as standard, Davies Turner specified the inclusion of the Davies Derby access control system on each truck, along with the blue spot pedestrian warning light, auto levelling forks, LED spotlights and red LED proximity lights. Speed limiters were also set for 7mph, slowing automatically to 5mph on corners for greater stability and safety.
Further aiding productivity, safety fork positioners were fitted to allow the operator to adjust the forks from the safety of the cab.
In conclusion Davies Turner have found that their drivers have responded very well to the changeover to the Doosan electric trucks. As well as the benefits already listed they have found them far more responsive than the gas trucks.
The overall message? They cannot fault them.