It is no secret that consumers love fresh produce. Cold stores are a vital part of the logistics chain, yet their harsh conditions place materials handling equipment under extreme pressure. To ensure high productivity and timely deliveries, customised solutions are needed to prepare the equipment for temperature controlled environments. Yale Europe Materials Handling uses its extensive expertise to provide a range of options that minimise additional maintenance, repair costs and downtime so that a drop in temperature doesn’t mean a drop in performance.
No Need To Be Left Out In The Cold
Ergonomics and operator comfort are central to the Yale design philosophy. Features such as enclosed heated cabins with double glazing and double skin insulation are offered on Yale® MR Series reach trucks and Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) trucks, providing operators with a warm and comfortable workspace.
“Our customers tell us that their operators perform best when they are comfortable. Keeping operators warm – particularly in the food and beverage industry where cold stores are prevalent – keeps the logistics chain moving. Our reach trucks and VNA trucks can be fitted with a heated or fully insulated cabin depending on the individual preference of the customer,” explains Gianbattista Scaramuzza, Senior Product Strategy Manager for Warehouse Equipment at Yale.
“Double skin walls with foam injected insulation retain heat within the confines of the cabin, keeping out the cold, while a sophisticated air circulation system maintains a comfortable environment. There are five heater settings for the operator to choose their optimum temperature with the system turning off automatically when the maximum temperature is reached to reduce energy consumption. The cabin enclosure can also be fitted with heated floors,” adds Gianbattista.
Special attention is also paid to the finer details. For comfort and safety, operators in cold stores often wear bulky clothing and gloves. To accommodate this, the doors on Yale trucks are easy to open and close, they have the lowest and widest step in the industry and integrated grab handles support easy access. Inside the cabin, wider floor pedals increase legroom for the operator providing a more comfortable operating position.
Visibility doesn’t need to be compromised either. Double glazed windows with heated glass can be fitted to prevent fogging, and the air circulation system keeps the cabin clear from mist and condensation. The driver can even communicate with those working around them using an intercom, eliminating the need to continually open and close the cab door and risk condensation caused by cold air.
Keeping Cool Under Pressure
While the severe working conditions of a cold warehouse play their part, the chances of issues arising are highest when the truck first emerges from the freezer environment.
Gianbattista explains, “As the operator leaves the cold store, condensation forms on the truck as it adjusts to the ambient temperature. Unfortunately, this can track down wiring looms into electrical connections, freezing and expanding when the forklift returns to the cold store. The damage this causes results in the equipment being taken out of action, and a potential drop in productivity while it is being repaired or replaced.”
To help prevent water infiltration, double sealed electrical connectors can be fitted to trucks operating in cold store environments, ensuring connectors and components are able to withstand the transition between temperatures. Added protection should also be considered for moving parts.
“Sub-zero temperatures can have a particularly adverse effect on moving parts, which in turn impacts productivity” explains Gianbattista. “To counteract this, we have developed hydraulic lubrication that can endure conditions down to -30°C without compromising truck performance. A range of solutions for specific requirements, for example environments below -30°C or applications where equipment is used continuously within a cold store, are also available through our Specialist Engineering team.”
In normal working environments, operators can expect to access 80% of their equipment’s lead acid battery’s capacity. However in cold store conditions, this can drop to as little as 65%, requiring more frequent charging throughout the duration of a shift. Battery removal can be cumbersome and time consuming, leading to a drop in productivity levels.
“We understand our customers need to work in the most efficient manner, so our in-aisle charging infrastructure removes the need for transporting the truck to a dedicated charging station mid-shift, or removing and replacing the battery,” says Gianbattista.
For applications where battery removal is necessary, Yale provides a power generator to connect to the truck to prevent oil and other components from becoming too cold.
Keeping It Clean
Keeping produce fresh isn’t the only challenge for logistics operators in the food and beverage industry. Hygiene and cleanliness in both the transport and handling of the goods is of vital importance. The Yale MP Series pedestrian low lift pallet truck has been specially engineered for use in cold store environments. As well as offering exceptional manoeuvrability, enabling the operator to work efficiently in even the most confined areas, a zinc coated frame is available for added protection against corrosion.
“The frame, tie rods, lever knob and battery cover can all be hot zinc coated, providing higher resistance to corrosion and paint chipping so the equipment can endure the cold conditions without leaving any debris behind,”
“Our cold storage solutions are designed to be robust and reliable. We’re confident we can deliver the Yale performance to our customers even in the most demanding conditions,” concludes Gianbattista.