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Forklift trucks from Linde

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A specialist Sydney produce handling company has taken on a fleet of 30 Linde forklift trucks to help increase its efficiency in one of Australia’s tough materials handling environments.

Sydney Markets Transport Services plays a key role in the smooth handling of more than one million tonnes of fresh produce which passes through the gates of the Sydney Growers Market each year.

The successful Sydney Markets Transport Services’ business centres around unloading a majority of the semi-trailers and B-Doubles which arrive at the markets each day from 9pm to 8.30am.

According to Sydney Markets Transport Services, the decision to replace its 43 well used forklifts with 30 Linde H20 units was part of an overall efficiency drive by the family owned company, which has also shed some unprofitable business.

Sydney Markets Transport Services has three direct competitors in a market segment which is basically a courier service built around forklifts. Sydney Markets Transport Services’ forklifts unload trucks and deliver the stock to wholesalers located up to 500 metres away. There can be up to 40 consignments in one truck load and there is usually another truck waiting.

Few worksites would present the opportunity for comparisons between brands that the Sydney Growers Market provides. There are more forklifts at work on the 43 hectare site than anywhere else in Australia.

“Because of the job they regularly hop on other people’s forklifts, so they already had a good idea about how they all compare. Sydney Markets Transport Services was looking for an improvement in productivity and efficiency.

Linde called on the company and began a seven month dialogue addressing concerns and demonstrating how a fleet of Linde forklifts could provide a competitive advantage.

At the end of the process Sydney Markets Transport Services decision makers came to the conclusion that they could not afford not to have a fleet of H20 forklifts.

Sydney Markets Transport Services spoke to other Linde users and the basic feedback it got was that they are good. Pretty much every Linde operator Sydney Markets Transport Services asked had that opinion. Some told that even at five or six years old the Lindes were good.

With test models provided by all the main brands, Sydney Markets Transport Services undertook an intensive comparison of the new suitable model from each major manufacturer.

For Sydney Markets Transport Services the outcome was clear cut. The Linde H20 was a total package. It seemed the other forklifts which Sydney Markets Transport Services tried were built for the company, just an engine, hydraulics and a seat.

The Linde seemed to be built for both the driver and the company, with much more thought having gone into the design of the machine. The Linde was particularly strong on the occupational health and safety side and that is what Sydney Markets Transport Services wanted. With other forklifts work has to be done with the machine, but the Linde helps to work.

If the driver is comfortable, safe and happy then that is a good outcome for both parties, because productivity will also increase. Sydney Markets Transport Services has a stable crew and it wants to keep it that way.

The feedback Sydney Markets Transport Services has got from the operators is that they like them. Sydney Markets Transport Services did not have any structured lessons and it just let each operator jump on a new Linde as it arrived and over the next two or three nights get used to them. A couple of the operators were a bit hesitant, but they have got used to them pretty quickly.

Sydney Markets Transport Services had reduced productivity over that time, but then it was totally familiar and it was getting the benefit of the increased productivity and a drop in operator fatigue towards the end of a shift.

Growers from all over Australia and from overseas send $2 billion of fresh produce each year to the markets for sale to thousands of market buyers. Apart from the 137 wholesalers on site, there are also 400 growers who sell their produce direct to retailers and consumers.

The markets are definitely getting busier and Sydney Markets Transport Services has increasingly less room, so factors such as the tight turning circle and visibility of the Linde are increasingly important to it.

Sydney Markets Transport Services forklift drivers are good at what it does. The pace of work around here is quite high, but there are remarkably few accidents on the markets site. Because of the speed of the environment and the volume of forklift and truck traffic, everyone has their mind on the job.

There would probably be more accidents in a factory environment where the speed might be slower and the concentration of the drivers might not be so good. In the markets concentration is important, but drivers have to be provided with good equipment. That is why Sydney Markets Transport Services did not just go looking for cheap forklift it could buy, it went looking for the ideal in every criteria.

Sydney Markets Transport Services has noticed with the Lindes that it feels like it is not working fast enough. Sydney Markets Transport Services is not sure whether the Linde is just too easy to drive, or whether it is just not used to its efficiency yet.

Linde fuel economy has impressed Sydney Markets Transport Services from day one with the new fleet. The company tested petrol and diesel models, but opted for the LPG alternative it has previously used.

According to Sydney Markets Transport Services, one of its operators worked a ten hour shift recently. Sydney Markets Transport Services knows from experience that with the previous forklift he would have taken 60 litres to top up the tank at the end of the shift. With the new Linde it only took 26 litres to replace what he had used. That is the efficiency Sydney Markets Transport Services was looking for.

Maintenance is another area where Sydney Markets Transport Services expects to benefit from its switch to Linde forklifts. Maintenance of its previous fleet was covered under the terms of the lease, but it has elected to purchase the H20s outright and cover its own maintenance costs.

The Linde 500 hour service intervals came out well in Sydney Markets Transport Services’ comparisons. At its rate of use Sydney Markets Transport Services will be looking at a scheduled service every three and a half to four months. Sydney Markets Transport Services has paid more to purchase the new Linde H20s, but looking at maintenance costs, tyre wear and fuel economy over the life of the vehicles, it has come out well ahead.

From its own enquiries and from speaking to other customers Sydney Markets Transport Services thinks it will get the longevity it wants and it does not expect the Lindes to be falling apart in five or six years, as can be the case with other brands seen around here.

Getting an extra year out of them Sydney Markets Transport Services will potentially save a lot of money. Durability features built into the Linde H20 include resilient mounting of the engine to the counterweight, to dampen vibration at the source and improve operator comfort. The mast is mounted directly to the drive axle, ensuring that vibrations from handling of the load are transmitted straight to ground without ever going through the chassis.

Linde’s hydrostatic transmission provides direct drive of the front wheels by the hydraulic motors, with no need for reduction gearing. This results in better efficiency, less fuel usage and substantial noise reduction.

In addition to the dramatic decrease in fuel consumption, running costs are minimised through the elimination of expensive and maintenance-dependent parts such as, the mechanical clutch, gearbox and conventional brake.

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