AUSTRALIAN Defence Industries (ADI) munitions manufacturing facility in North Eastern Victoria has received a dedicated lift truck fleet from Crown Equipment to fully meet its operational requirements, including those for environments with hazardous dusts.
The munitions facility in Benalla, Victoria had been operating an aging fleet of lift trucks of various brands and the maintenance bill was viewed as an incursion into the company's bottom line.
Due to the hazardous nature of its manufactured product, a tender prepared by ADI required the new fleet of lift trucks carry all necessary modifications to meet strict ADI and Australian Standard requirements associated with handling such material.
Hazardous area lift trucks working on this site were expected to operate in areas for high explosives and temporary magazine storage areas as well as the small arms ammunition section.
For its 150Ha site, ADI has gained: modified vehicles with complete dust-proofing to suit the potentially hazardous application and an ongoing, scheduled maintenance agreement to maximise output. The fleet has also gained National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited certification through an ITACS third party.
ADI acquired the fleet with finance and lease arrangements to suit its budgeting requirements.
As ADI's original fleet had been old and of various brands, it was not only desired that replacements be all the same brand, the new fleet had to have complete dust proofing and various original design aspects to meet stringent ADI and Australian Standards requirements, says Crown Equipment Executive, Mr Glenn Pulley.
"It was obvious ADI needed a new fleet, but we also worked out a comprehensive maintenance agreement and lease arrangement that suited the organisation as well as a finance and lease structure for the purchase," Pulley said.
The result was a fleet of 14 Crown vehicles, comprising hazardous area vehicles as well as standard non-hazardous vehicles.
"As most of the trucks were to be working indoors in the stores for about four hours a day (about 70% of the time), ADI indicated it favoured battery electric powered vehicles for OH&S requirements in maintaining clean air in the employee working areas."
Previously, ADI drivers were accustomed to standing on brakes with the old units but when Crown came in with disc brakes the "operator feel" was a vast improvement.
Drivers report a greater ease of operation, less pressure required to operate braking, and a life long performance.
"ADI's requirements were complex, and the ongoing maintenance plan a critical factor in what was viewed as a long term arrangement between Crown and the client," Pulley said.
"Our maintenance plan recommended a scheduled check-up based on 250hrs of usage per vehicle, including vacuum tests, earth tests, leakage tests and static tests as additional requirements.
"ADI is a very large company on a site that is classed as a major hazardous facility, hence we have to maintain the company's equipment to the highest standard and have the best available parts and appropriately trained service personnel.
"ADI not only needs to be seen to be doing the right thing, it actually has to be doing the right thing.
"ADI management describes the fleet uptime as ‘chalk and cheese’ compared to what it was prior to our agreement.
"The agreement is a seven year lease deal but ADI has indicated it expects to extend the usage and maintenance program to ensure the trucks are around for a subsequent agreement."