It's A Green World After All

Companies are learning that business processes and investments which are ecologically viable are also economically beneficial.

Cellex Power Products Inc., Vancouver, BC, is a supplier of fuel cell power solutions for electric lift trucks. Last year, the company concluded a successful beta trial in conjunction with Crown, at a Wal-Mart food distribution center in Ohio. It is now moving, along with its parent company Power Plug of Latham, NY, into an early commercial phase of the plan.

"We will begin to ship these units starting in the fourth quarter of the year," says Tom Hoying, vice president of sales and marketing for Cellex. "We're in the final throes of preparing 100 Class Three units for customers right now. After the second quarter of next year we will start putting beta units out in Class One and Class Two stand up-units."

Reasons for switching from lead/acid batteries range from the environmental—old batteries leak acid and lead into landfills—to issues of productivity.

"There's no battery droop," says Hoying. "Any lead battery, once it reaches 60 percent of its available energy, starts to drop off faster, which means the truck tends to run slow. Fuel cells run longer."

In addition, the downtime for lead/acid batteries is incredibly long, necessitating removal of the battery from the truck, as well as a protracted recharge time and a cool-down period before they can be utilized. In contrast, fuel cells can be filled with compressed hydrogen from a filling station—a process that takes minutes.

Raymond Corp., Greene, NY, is on the forefront of the research. "We realized, as a truck manufacturer, that we needed to understand not only the environmental and productivity issues, but also the technological ones," says Steve Medwin, manager of advance research for Raymond. "In the fall of last year we were awarded a large contract from New York State that partially funded our internal program."

As part of the program, Raymond installed outdoor hydrogen storage and compression as well as an indoor refueling area in their production factory. Fuel cells have been installed in a Class Three pallet truck, a Class Two reach truck and will soon be installed in a Class One stand up truck as well as another reach truck. The company is using the trucks in its manufacturing process.

"All of these systems are hybrid," he explains. "They have a fuel cell and they also have another way to store electricity." Raymond uses super capacitors for this function. "Hybridization is really key to the performance of the truck," Medwin says.

"When you're lifting a load 40 feet in the air, you need a burst of energy." Supercapacitors provide this extra energy for them.

"Currently, we are evaluating the technology," he adds. "We're using our factory as a living lab." The duration of the experiment will be two years, after which Raymond will evaluate the evidence and determine what role they should play in the supply chain.

Anti-Corrosion Trucks For Tough Environments
A few lift truck companies have begun to offer anti-corrosion packages for their trucks, which makes for more environmentally friendly, cheaper to maintain trucks. Yale Materials Handling Corp., Greenville, NC, offers a galvanization process for its MPW-050-W walkie truck. This helps protect the vehicle's surface in harsh environments, thereby reducing the number of times the truck needs to be painted. It also reduces the overall maintenance costs during the life of the truck.

Hyster, Greenville, NC, provides an Extreme Corrosion/Wash Down Package on selected versions of its pallet trucks that provides extra protection for trucks working in applications that require they be washed-down frequently, or in situations where they are exposed to corrosive forces.


Gaining A Competitive Advantage
Follow these nine steps to optimize the packaging supply chain.

By Patrick Smorch

The announcement of Wal-Mart's new sustainability scorecard has established sustainability as a source of differentiation and competitive advantage for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies. It turns out that what's good for the environment can also be good for business. As companies strive to meet their sustainability goals, they can also improve efficiency, cost-savings and profitability.

CPG companies can uncover sustainability and profitability benefits throughout the packaging supply chain by focusing on the following nine key areas:

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