Pipe company chooses electric forklifts

Pioneering composite steel drainage pipe manufacturer, AquaSpira, recently unveiled ambitious plans to reduce its embodied carbon by half and has taken a significant step in achieving it by switching from IC engine to electric forklifts at its site in Nelson, Lancashire.

When the company’s three trucks were due for replacement, AquaSpira contacted local Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks dealer Jofson for support.

AquaSpira Managing Director Neil Wallace explained: “We are investing in a series of initiatives to de-carbonise our production, in line with our R&D innovations to de-carbonise through pipe design and sensors. This has included the use of recycled materials in our manufacturing, the installation of solar panels and reducing our road mileage.

“It’s all about making sensible decisions for the good of both our company and our workforce. Choosing electric forklifts will help us cut not only our carbon footprint but also our running costs. This work supports the huge strides we are making in helping housing and commercial developers and the transport industry considerably reduce their impact on the environment through their drainage specifications.”

Small but tough

Jofson Sales Manager Lee Whittaker worked with AquaSpira to source the right trucks for its operations, recommending three models from the award-wining Mitsubishi EDiA range – renowned for its agility, strength and state-of-the-art ergonomics.

Given the different requirements across the site AquaSpira acquired a 2-tonne EDiA EM FB20AN for use in the warehouse, a 2.5-tonne EDiA EX FB25CN for general purpose work such as unloading and loading, and a 3-tonne EDiA EX FB30CN for heavy-duty lifting of steel coils and finished pipes.

Whittaker said: “All EDiA models are compact and have a >100° steering axle with dual drive motors which guarantees a very small turning circle, making them ideally-suited to working in tight spaces such as the warehouse, or out in the yard where they are required to manoeuvre around equipment and materials.

“These trucks are lifting large metal and plastic loads which have a tendency to slip and move, so extra care is needed. EDiA has a Sensitive Drive System that ensures smooth movement and its Intelligent Cornering System judges angles at the very start of a turn and automatically optimises speed for greater stability.

“EDiA has exceptional all-round, 360° visibility thanks to Scandinavian design principles, while the ECO and PRO modes allow the motor parameters to be adjusted to suit each operator’s capability and the task undertaken. All these features add up to give operators greater confidence and control when handling difficult loads day in, day out, further reducing the risk of accidents.”

A fleet management system was also added, which provides PIN-code access for authorised use and pre-shift check programmes.

“The system ensures greater accountability among operators as we know who is working on what truck and when,” says Leigh Cain, Transport Supervisor at AquaSpira.

“We chose some really useful safety features for the trucks, including a rear blue spotlight, and a rear handle and horn, all of which help alert pedestrians working nearby so they keep a safe distance from the truck.”

Run on the sun

In the future, AquaSpira plans to install solar panels to generate electricity for the site, allowing the forklifts to be charged using renewable energy.

Plus, Mitsubishi says the EDiA forklifts will keep going and going thanks to their low energy consumption.

“The trucks only need to be charged every couple of days,” added Cain. “What’s more, because they are every bit as powerful as the old diesels and LP gas trucks, they can carry large loads, so we have fewer trips back and forth across the yard. That means the battery charge lasts longer and we get more done. The electric trucks are great for productivity.”

The new EDiA trucks are used to cover a large site over varied and sometimes uneven terrain, but have proved equal to every challenge.

Cain said: “The operators like the new trucks and the fact that we can adjust a lot of the truck settings means every task is handled with ease.

“The noise is the biggest difference we noticed. The EDiA forklifts are very quiet, and as there are no emissions it is much safer for anyone working around them, especially in the warehouse.”

As well as supporting leaner and cleaner operations, electric trucks have the added benefit of being future-proof, given the impending end to red diesel subsidies that could see the running costs of diesel trucks soar.

Whittaker said: “AquaSpira will be able to run its EDiA trucks on a fraction of the cost compared to using gas bottles or diesel fuel, without any compromise on power and performance. I’d advise businesses in other heavy industries such as construction and manufacturing that traditionally use IC engine trucks to consider following the same route as AquaSpira by switching to electric, not least to avoid being hit with ever higher fuel and maintenance costs.”

Since working with Jofson, AquaSpira has been impressed by the high levels of support.

“The team at Jofson was very responsive throughout the entire process, from assessing our requirements right through to answering our queries and commissioning the trucks on site. They’ve been great to work with,” said Cain. “The service they offer is second to none.”


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