When it comes to the refrigerated food supply chain, SRT Logistics is the predominant Tasmanian operator. Now this dynamic company is poised to step up even further.

The family owned business has grown over 25 years to operate a 200 truck fleet which makes regular deliveries to every Tasmanian town, services major centres daily and is making big strides in the Victorian market. SRT Logistics’ story of growth is typical of many companies which have outperformed their peers.

Operational success has been paramount, with management constantly working to provide the appropriate resources to support that growth curve. For SRT Logistics those appropriate resources have most recently included a new fleet of 23 Linde battery electric counterbalance forklifts and order pickers.

Compact dimensions, good ergonomics and high levels of manoeuvrability. That’s what came out in Linde’s favour in the various demonstrations of alternative equipment from the three leading suppliers we were evaluating.

“Not so long ago when this was a small business the owners, the Miller family, would just go out and buy a new forklift if there was a need for an extra one,” national logistics manager, Matthew Prenter said. “There was a relationship with one material handling equipment supplier, but eventually we were dealing with three brands and three separate monthly invoices. We had Toyota forklifts and some Crown units and ultimately began to add Linde units to our forklift hire fleet.”

Familiarity with multiple brands served the company well when it decided to put its fork lift and order picker needs out to tender. Linde, Toyota and Crown were invited to participate.

“In the early days of the business, equipment leasing wasn’t really appropriate,” Matthew Prenter said. “But if you own it, you tend to hold on to things longer than you probably should and you can find yourself falling behind in terms of technological advances which may be available. Now we have reached a size where it makes sense to lease, because the equipment is in use virtually around the clock, but in five years time we will have the option to upgrade to brand new equipment with the latest technology.”

SRT Logistics chose to refurbish its existing forklifts and order pickers for redeployment to its relatively small Devonport depot, while acquiring new forklift equipment for its major Launceston and Hobart sites.

“We had presentations by three companies and assessed their equipment against key criteria,” Matthew said. “While most of the material handling equipment suppliers have broadly similar equipment, it comes down to the important features your operators are going to have to live with – things such as compact dimensions, good ergonomics and high levels of manoeuvrability. That’s what came out in Linde’s favour in the various demonstrations of alternative equipment from the three leading suppliers we were evaluating. For example, the Linde T20SP pallet truck is a very compact design with rounded corners which minimises potential for damage and make it ideal for driving in and out of containers which often have a split wall down the middle.”

SRT Logistics had previously hired a Linde T20SP pallet truck for 12 months, so knew it was fit for purpose. It also took on 13 Linde T18 walk behind hand pallet trucks after speaking to a Victorian company which has used them successfully and without problems for deliveries to a fast food chain. In fact, Linde Material Handling was also able to point to the positive experience of food industry heavyweights VersaCold Logistics and KR Castlemaine to reinforce its credentials. What particularly appealed to SRT Logistics’ senior management was the combination of the Linde battery electric fork lift equipment and the PosiCharge battery charging system which the company ultimately opted for.

“There is a significant initial outlay with the PosiCharge system, but the long term ongoing advantages are really worthwhile,” Matthew said. “It really simplifies the whole battery management process. You only need one battery per forklift, so there is a big saving on space required in the battery room. Even though we operate six and a half days and are heading for 24 seven, there’s no need for shift batteries or training in battery filling. Operators can get on with their primary role and not have to concentrate on battery maintenance. Our previous battery charging arrangements weren’t working well and the older style gel cell batteries weren’t working well in cold weather.”

With the switch to Linde E20 battery electric forklifts and T series pallet trucks, SRT Logistics has overcome both challenges. To ensure it stays ahead of the fleet management curve, SRT Logistics has also opted to employ Linde’s FleetFOCUS system which an increasing number of customers are choosing for its ease of operation and powerful reporting functions.

“It helps monitor OH&S issues, fleet utilisation and maintenance scheduling, but I like the fact that its impact sensors help to hold people to account,” Matthew said. “Damage to forklifts in other workplaces sometimes goes unreported and unrepaired. With FleetFOCUS derating equipment after significant impact, just knowing that system exists will encourage safer, more careful driving habits.”

Since 2006, SRT has maintained depots in Victoria to help it service large retailers’ DCs in Melbourne. Now, the company has expanded into a new facility in Laverton. It has opted to equip that site with Linde forklift rental equipment.

“It’s a short term situation at the moment, but likely to change into a longer term arrangement,” Matthew Prenter said.

Given SRT Logistics’ growth record, there’s little reason to doubt that. Whether you are in Melbourne or Hobart, browse through our selection of Australia-wide special offers on Linde forklifts today.

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