Challenge: Planning security and sustainably efficient trucks. Side battery change that can be optimally implemented.
Lösung: A continuous improvement process after 10 years of partnership and a convincing overall concept.
Products: Electric forklift truck RX 60, leasing, full service
Austrian drinks manufacturer Radlberger has been leasing its fleet of forklifts from STILL for over ten years. In 2012 they renewed their contract for a second time thanks to our continuous improvement process and personal service.
Gundolf Edelbacher is the analytical type. The Production Manager at Austrian drinks manufacturer Radlberger regularly puts the firm’s existing processes and supplier relationships to the test – including industrial truck procurement.
“Radlberger has been working with STILL for over ten years. We lease around 20 industrial trucks with battery and charger accessories. In 2012 we signed our third 60-month service leasing contract with them,“ explains Michael Schulz, Head of STILL's fleet management system technology department.
A new tender
In 2007 the existing fleet was changed over from gas to electric. STILL's offering was particularly impressive because of the side battery-change design on the RX 60- 50, which has become virtually indispensable in production and filling operations. “A conventional electric forklift truck with an overhead battery compartment was out of the question for us,” says Gerhard Fitz, Radlberger's long-serving Warehouse Manager. No wonder: replacing the battery with a crane requires not only the costly crane itself but also trained employees, and it takes significantly longer.
However, by the time the existing leasing contract ended in 2012, other forklift manufacturers had followed suit. Although STILL benefits from the longest experience in side battery change on 2.5–5 ton front loaders, it is no longer a unique selling point. “I researched the whole market and invited five manufacturers to tender,” recalls Gundolf Edelbacher who has been with Radlberger since 2010. We put out a tender for 18 industrial trucks – 13 tillers and 5 front loaders.
A long-standing relationship
From the outset it was also clear that leasing was the right option for the new fleet. “Our forklifts carry up to 1,800 pallets a day and run for up to 3,000 operating hours a year – over a period of five years, that kind of usage gradually wears down battery capacity,” explains Edelbacher. But by leasing, Radlberger saved having to replace the forklift batteries since the whole fleet is replaced every 60 months.
It also means that the firm can predict forklift costs accurately. In 2002 the drinks manufacturer opted for full-service leasing, meaning that all servicing, repair and inspection costs are included in a fixed monthly rate. And that includes tyres, accessory and charging equipment and batteries as well as the actual forklift technology. Damage caused during operation is the only additional cost. Whichever way you look at it, 18 intensively used pieces of equipment will always need attention of some kind. To deal with this, STILL's Radlberger service technician makes regular visits to the site. “We see him several times a month, and an almost collegial relationship has now developed between us”, confirms Mr Fitz. It is important to him that he can completely rely on the technician and that there is a fixed contact person in place.
A better view
Without doubt, these "soft factors" also played a role in Radlberger's decision to stay with STILL. Another compelling reason was STILL's continuous product improvement process (CIP): for example, every forklift is supplied with two batteries with electrolyte circulation, reducing charge time to less than seven hours. “This means that every time you change the battery, the new one is fully charged, which is good for durability,” says Edelbacher.
Despite all these advantages, the logistics manager had also tested a competitor's forklift. He let his employees use a competing model for two weeks and then asked them for their opinions. “The ergonomics of the other forklift didn't measure up to the ease of operation and comfortable seating of STILL's forklifts,” reports Edelbacher. One major and objectively measurable difference was the good forward visibility. STILL puts the mast on two side-mounted lifting cylinders which do not impede the driver's line of sight. Our competitors, however, often install a central cylinder which significantly restricts the view ahead. Another objective advantage is the compact dimensions: at only 1.39 m wide, the STILL RX 60-50 is the slimmest forklift in its class. Other models are up to 1.60 m wide; in practice this means that aisles in block storage situations have to be wider.
The STILL RX 60-50 with 600 mm load centre – for performance and driver safety
The clincher in Radlberger's decision to go with STILL was improved performance compared with the previous model. Since 2011 the STILL RX 60-50 has also been available with a 600 mm load centre. In other words the basic load capacity of 5000 kg refers to a 600 mm load centre while the "standard" RX 60-50 carries 5000 kg on a 500 mm load centre. The resulting increase in residual load capacity in combination with the integrated Kaup fork-adjusting device makes it easier for the whole system to lift three drinks pallets on 2400 mm prongs. “Our quality standards demand that we provide customers with operationally reliable, efficient equipment throughout the contract, right down to the last pallet. Had we not proved ourselves in that respect over the years, Radlberger wouldn't have continued to renew its contract with us,“ says STILL's Michael Schulz with a hint of pride.
“The STILL RX 60-50 with 600 mm load centre has led to a significant improvement in driver safety – our drivers feel safer now, it's that simple,” affirm Gundolf Edelbacher and Gerhard Fitz. On the back of this positive experience, Radlberger's sister company, independent brewery EGGER, also renewed its contract with STILL at the end of 2012.
“The current contract with EGGER ends in March 2013, at which point we will be delivering them another three RX 60-50s with 600 mm load centre and an RX 60-20 under a full-service leasing agreement. For us, that's confirmation that over the previous contract period the equipment and STILL service we've provided have met the customer's expectations and requirements,“ says Schulz.