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No growing pains

11 June 2013

Specialist grower, Barfoots of Botley makes productivity and environmental gains by introducing Jungheinrich’s lithium-ion powered pallet trucks to its fleet.

Based in Chichester, West Sussex Barfoots of Botley specialise in growing, processing, packing and selling semi-exotic fresh vegetables to UK retailers. 

As well as the home-grown produce it harvests, Barfoots imports produce from up to 30 different countries – ensuring a year-round supply of fresh produce such as sweetcorn, asparagus, broad beans, courgettes, marrows, peas, pumpkins, rhubarb, runner beans, and a variety of squashes and sweet potatoes.

"Essentially, our business is about taking product out of the ground and adding value,” says David Cooper, Barfoot’s logistics manager. "We pick and pack produce so it is ‘shop ready’ when it leaves us.”

Barfoots operate temperature controlled warehouse sites in Chichester where goods are packed and despatched for onward delivery to some of Britain’s leading grocery retailers.

Because of the highly perishable nature of the produce they deal in, Barfoots rely on an efficient supply chain model and the materials handling equipment (MHE) operating within the Chichester cold stores is fundamental to the company’s success.

"Our products are marketed for their freshness  and ‘48 hours from field to fork’ means that a product can be harvested, processed and presented to the end customer within a 48 hour time window, so major MHE problems within our cold stores really could be a ‘show stopper’ for us,’ says David Cooper.

The company runs a fleet of Jungheinrich lift trucks at the two sites. A mixture of diesel and electric-powered counterbalanced trucks, ride-on and pedestrian powered pallet trucks are used to unload incoming orders and load picked pallet loads on to waiting delivery vehicles for dispatch.

Barfoots recently upgraded the trucks operating in and around the dispatch areas with Jungheinrich’s lithium ion-powered EJE 112i pallet trucks.

When Jungheinrich announced the launch of the lithium-ion powered EJE 112i, the company described it as ‘a step change in forklift truck design’ thanks to the environmental and productivity benefits that lithium ion offers over traditional forklift power sources and the EJE 112is have brought a number of operational benefits to Barfoots.

For example, Barfoots’ dispatch area can become congested at peak periods, so the company sought a compact truck that offered a smaller footprint but retained the ability to cope with the high throughput demands of the site.

"We have found that a single charge is sufficient to power a truck for up to five hours."

Because the EJE 112i’s lithium ion battery is significantly smaller and lighter than a traditional lead acid battery (it weighs just 14kg and looks very much like a brief case) Jungheinrich has been able to dramatically reduce the size of the truck’s battery compartment and, therefore, shrink the truck’s overall dimensions which means that the EJE 112i is considerably shorter than other powered pallet trucks on the market.

"Our operators really like the fact that the EJE112i id so compact and manoeuvrable. It has made life much easier in and around our picking areas,” says David Cooper.

"The EJE 112i is small and ideal for multi-lift, short journey work.”

Barfoots also benefits from the lithium-ion truck’s flexible battery charging regime. It takes just 30 minutes to deliver a 50 per cent charge and the battery is fully charged within 80 minutes. The short charging times enable more flexible truck utilisation and ‘opportunity charging.’

"We have found that a single charge is sufficient to power a truck for up to five hours,” says David Cooper.

Importantly, when it comes to recharging, a dedicated charging area is not required. The battery is simply removed by hand from the truck and placed within a recharging docking device that can be positioned near a power supply anywhere within the building. The simplicity of the recharging process reduces the need for a dedicated battery charging area along with the controls associated with topping up batteries and PPE etc.

Having originally ordered two EJE 112is, Barfoots has just added an extra two models to their fleet.

"We are always looking to make productivity and environmental efficiencies within our business and Jungheinrich’s lithium-ion powered pallet truck has enabled us to achieve both,” adds David Cooper.