Travis Perkins is one of the largest suppliers of building materials to the UK’s construction industry. As such, a reliable materials handling resource is vital to the success of its operation. As a key supplier, through our partnership with Briggs Equipment, we’re helping to keep the huge fleet on the move.
Briggs Equipment is providing Travis Perkins with Hyster/Yale machines on a five-year contract. As the preferred battery supplier to Briggs since 2010, we secured a £1.5million contract as part of this deal. Our main role is to support four Travis Perkins/Wickes warehouses in Northampton. This involves the supply of some 750 batteries and servicing support.
Additionally, we support more than 450 smaller builders’ merchants and related outlets. The network includes Wickes, Keyline, Tile Giant, BSS, City Plumbing, CCF, Toolstation and Benchmark (kitchens). Each of these sites has a battery and charger assigned to its single forklift. These outlets also benefit from the dedicated servicing programme provided by our UK-wide engineering team.
New battery bay
In spring 2019 Travis Perkins decided to alter the battery bay at its Gowerton Road warehouse. The goal? To make the facility more user friendly and speed up battery changing. Growth is fuelled by demand. So, rearranging the existing bay would not deliver the required improvement. It would have to be dismantled and totally redesigned.
Installing a new mezzanine floor maximised the available space. However, making better use of the existing one-way system was key. Our team put safety first. Essentially, we made it easier for operators to enter the bay and change batteries. They could then exit via a different route. The solution neatly avoids a log jam of people and batteries awaiting charging.
The warehouse fleets incorporate 2-t reach trucks and 2-t and 2.5-t counterbalance forklifts. Low-level order pickers and powered pedestrian pallet trucks are also in the mix. A three-shift system with two batteries per forklift is in operation. To support Travis Perkins’ aims we introduced our trak Monitor battery management system. It helped to streamline picking and improved reporting.
Faster battery changing is vital. It means MHE equipment spends more time picking and moving goods. In the warehouse around 100 operators change 750 batteries every 12-15 minutes. Shaving two or three minutes off a typical battery change is therefore a big deal. Realising a significant time saving is having a positive impact. Warehouse efficiency is up and, in turn, is boosting productivity.
Our experience of designing battery bays came into its own on this project. For safety, effective removal of the hydrogen gas released during charging is a must. We took responsibility for overseeing installation of appropriate ventilation. Additionally, we worked with external contractors to rearrange the roller beds for the changing systems. This intervention also helped to achieve further efficiencies.
Typically, the batteries in the trucks are on a six-hour recharge. Our solution? Trak Uplift Air lead-acid batteries plus HF chargers. This offers several benefits. These batteries charge faster whilst air circulates the electrolyte helping to prolong battery life. Trak Uplift Air enjoy DNV certification. This accredits them to deliver a longer service life compared to conventional lead-acid batteries.
Our remit includes servicing and maintenance across the Travis Perkins warehouses and 450+ outlets. Resident and mobile engineers are attached to the dedicated programme. They carry out inspections, topping, cleaning and repairs every six weeks. Due to the size of the fleet maintenance takes a week to complete. Working collaboratively, to a pre-agreed schedule, makes the process hassle-free. Importantly, it also means truck downtime is kept to minimum.
For a fast response our team can call on the latest technology. We equip our engineers with iPads and company laptops. They use dedicated software that communicates with the HF chargers. Through our custom-built SITs service solutions system engineers can conduct live planning and maintenance scheduling. Once jobs are completed reports are finalised immediately. Engineers can confirm sign off whilst still on site. They simply email a named contact and capture an electronic signature.
Collaborative team working
The Hoppecke team attends regular quarterly meetings with Travis Perkins. Typically, we will review practical solutions to any battery problems. As a result, issues are resolved quickly with minimum inconvenience. Locally devolved decision-making provides an added bonus. We can take prompt action and control costs. Overall, this collaborative approach strengthens the working relationship for mutual benefit.