Exhaust manufacturer’s smaller, mightier fleet reduces energy usage, carbon footprint
August 9, 2012
AP Exhaust’s employees use lift trucks to pick and ship up to 31,000 automotive exhaust products per day. The manufacturer converted its in-plant fleet to new all-electric lift trucks that have increased load, lift, and acceleration capacities that enable it to use fewer trucks to achieve its workload goals.
For more than 80 years, AP Exhaust Technologies has manufactured exhaust and emissions products for cars, light trucks, and SUVs and supplied to the automotive service industry. Today the company’s Goldsboro, N.C., headquarters includes a 450,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and a 140,000-sq.-ft. distribution center. From this facility, the firm’s 368 employees work to pick and ship up to 31,000 parts per day in a single-shift operation (see lead image).
Lift trucks have been an essential tool in AP Exhaust’s material handling operations for more than 40 years. In 2010, during a period of significant growth, the company decided to evaluate its fleet to ensure it was energy-efficient, cost-effective, and positioned for future expansion.
At the time the lift truck fleet included several brands of both liquid propane (LP) and electric lift trucks. The average age of the lift trucks was 12 years, so the company wanted to determine if the lift trucks had exceeded their economic life span—whether it cost more to maintain them than to purchase new trucks.
“We previously purchased refurbished equipment, but the cost of maintenance became too high,” said Ruth Long, vice president of AP Exhaust Technologies. “We decided to analyze our current costs and determine the return on investment for purchasing new equipment.”
Carolina Handling, Charlotte, N.C., an authorized sales and service center of The Raymond Corp., Greene, N.Y., evaluated the lift truck fleet and submitted recommendations to AP Exhaust. By converting its existing fleet of LP and electric lift trucks to a fleet of new Raymond® electric vehicles, AP Exhaust Products was able to reduce the sizes of its lift truck fleets in the distribution center and the plant by 15 percent and 28 percent, respectively (see Figure 1).
Fewer trucks use less energy. In addition, the trucks have features to improve efficiency, cutting down on overall truck usage and, as a result, energy consumption. Reducing energy consumption has reduced CO2 emissions, shrinking the company’s carbon footprint.
In the distribution center,model 8400 pallet trucks have double-length forks to allow operators to pick four pallets before traveling to the staging area, reducing the number of trips operators need to make to move products. For order processing, model 7400 Reach-Fork® trucks provide increased lift and acceleration capabilities that enable AP Exhaust Products to use fewer reach trucks for activities within racks.
The new model 9600 Swing-Reach® truck provides more battery life and extended run time for work within the distribution center’s very narrow aisles (see Figure 2). These aisles are equipped with the Raymond intelliguide™ digital wire guidance system to ensure that lift trucks always are traveling down the center of the aisle. Model 4200 lift trucks in the manufacturing area can be shifted to the distribution center as material handling demands change.
All of the new lift trucks feature the Raymond ACR System™, which increases their energy efficiency and helps batteries last longer between charging.
Representatives from Carolina Handling also helped AP Exhaust to customize and implement a complete power program for its lift truck battery charging. With the program, AP Exhaust pays a monthly fee for its battery power, and battery-charging schedules are handled by a third party.
Through this agreement, AP Exhaust has been able to realize additional cost savings related to energy usage because charging times and power usage can be planned during off-peak times when energy costs are lower. From a productivity standpoint, the program provides the flexibility to run longer shifts or add shifts if needed, because lift trucks are charged during planned downtime or other times when they are not in use, reducing the need to stop to change batteries. Also, operators don’t have to change batteries or drive to other areas of the warehouse to charge equipment.
AP Exhaust Technologies Inc., 300 Dixie Trail, Goldsboro, NC 27530, 919-580-2000, www.apexhaust.com
Carolina Handling LLC, 3101 Piper Lane, Charlotte, NC 28208, 704-357-6273, www.carolinahandling.com
The Raymond Corp., 22 S. Canal St., Greene, NY 13778, 800-235-7200, www.raymondcorp.com