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Electric switch saves energy & improves productivity

12 December 2012

Vehicle manufacturer General Motors is reported to have saved energy, improved productivity and optimised line side delivery operations at its Astra plant in Ellesmere Port by switching to electric tow tractors powered

Vehicle manufacturer General Motors is reported to have saved energy, improved productivity and optimised line side delivery operations at its Astra plant in Ellesmere Port by switching to electric tow tractors powered by Hawker batteries from EnerSys. The introduction of the new tractors to replace gas-powered units also reduced vehicle movements in production and storage areas.

"We can use the new tractors right through the shift to deliver parts to the production line without any disruption to the operations," says Richie Mellor, senior engineer at the Worldwide Facilities Group, GMM Ellesmere Port Plant.

"EnerSys and the tractor manufacturer have supplied us with a complete package that met our specification, delivered operational New from Crown Lift Trucks, the C-5 gas-powered counterbalance forklift addresses issues associated with high use and tough environments.

For many years, IC-engine lift trucks have been plagued by short service intervals and performance issues arising from overheating. The LPG-sector, in particular, has been led by automotive-derived engine and cooling solutions. In the toughest applications, thermal cut-back had become the norm.

To combat these problems, Crown engineers collaborated with John Deere to co-develop an exclusive durable, low-maintenance 2.4-litre LPG industrial engine designed to meet the needs of arduous applications. The cast iron head is 24% better at absorbing heat than aluminium, which is commonly used on competitor trucks. This makes it much less likely to warp, which can be a frequent occurrence on alternative units.

The gear-driven camshaft means no belt or chain to maintain. This efficient design is said to be zero maintenance and gives consistent performance over a typical lifespan.

Additionally, the accessory poly belt is ribbed and maintained at the required tension by an autotensioner, removing the need to manually adjust during service.

benefits and a number of savings." The choice of battery and charger was crucial to the whole project because these allow the trucks to be top-up charged for short periods during scheduled work breaks to maintain enough power to operate right through the shift. This is supplemented by overnight charging at the weekend, when the factory is shut down, to ensure the batteries are always full for the start of the next weeks first shift.

"This saves a lot of time each day," says Mellor. "With the old tractors it took around 10 minutes to leave the working area to replace the gas bottle but with the new electric tractors we don't need to do this." With 25 tractors in the fleet this activity added up to 250 working minutes lost across each shift, time which is now available for productive work. It also eliminates the need for the tractors to go outside, which means they are not exposed to rain and dirt which reduces the need for cleaning.
 
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