In 1912 horse drawn ploughs were the mainstay of the family farming business now known as Vanstone Produce Pty Ltd. Four generations later its equipment includes Linde battery-electric forklifts for key roles.

Ross Vanstone moved the farm business from south of Brisbane to the Lockyer Valley over a decade ago and the family holding has since expanded from 55 acres to just on 300, divided between shallots and broccolini.

Brothers Zac and Justin head the latest generation of the Vanstone family’s farming activities and like others before them they have brought major changes to the business whose vegetables go to all major grocery chains as well as Costco and Lite n’ Easy.

Neighbour’s enthusiasm prompted Linde trial

“When we first came here our father didn’t have a single forklift,” Zac Vanstone recalled. “He just used a tractor with a fork attachment outside the shed and we would use pallet jacks inside the shed. Now we have three Linde forklifts and they are essential to our business. “One of our neighbours, Simon Farms, has used Linde equipment for quite some time. They kept talking them up, with nothing but praise, so we visited them, saw the forklifts in action and were impressed.”

Vanstone Produce uses its Linde forklifts to unload trailers carrying mega-bins filled with vegetables from the paddocks, for moving produce to and from the cool-room and packing shed and for loading trucks.

We are really impressed by the Linde battery electric system,

Gas first then electric

“Our first forklift was a used Linde 2.5 tonne capacity gas forklift which we purchased with 3,000 hours on it,” Zac Vanstone said. “After about nine months we recognised we needed more equipment, so we took two Linde E16C battery electric forklifts on short-term rental.

“We took the short-term rental option because we weren’t sure whether we would use them to their full capacity, but we soon realised we certainly would. Now we have three Linde forklifts and are in the process of changing over that original truck for a 2.5 tonne battery electric Linde E25C forklift.”

Multi-tasking and speed

The Linde battery electric forklifts at Vanstone Produce are involved in several stages of the storage, handling and transport processes on the farm, where there is constant pressure to minimise the time taken from paddock to retailer.

Produce is brought in from the fields in plastic mega-bins which are unloaded from tractor trailers by the Linde battery electric forklifts and taken to cool-rooms where it stays until it gets moved again by the forklifts to the packing shed, often in just 24 hours. The forklifts then load it onto trucks for shipping to supermarkets where it appears 24 to 48 hours later.

Busy and reliable

“We are really impressed by the Linde battery electric system,” Zac Vanstone said. “Our packing shed has a wet slab as we wash down produce before packing and that can be a problem for battery electric forklift operations.

“One of them works almost nonstop all day and the other is in use probably every 20 minutes when crops come back from the paddock. We get a full day’s work out of them and then they are charged at night ready for a full day the next day.

“We dock load our produce into the back of trucks and you really can’t be using gas trucks in enclosed spaces like that. Putting emissions over produce is something which we just don’t want to risk. Likewise, you don’t want those fumes in the packing shed or the cool-room.”

 I would recommend their equipment for farming use without hesitation.

Right sized and cost efficient

Apart from avoiding emissions hazards for produce and operators and the fully sealed drive motors which make them ideal for wet conditions, the Linde battery electric forklifts offer Vanstone Produce additional advantages.

The combination of smaller dimensions than gas trucks and drive motors on each wheel also make them more manoeuvrable than alternatives, but valuable though those features are however, it was operating cost efficiencies which decided the outcome.

“The amount we were spending on gas when we had just a single forklift was ridiculous,” Zac Vanstone said. “When we looked at the figures we calculated we could take on two Linde E16C battery electric forklifts with combined lease costs which were less than our LPG costs for our single 2.5 tonne capacity forklift.

Three for the cost of one

“Even with our gas Linde H25 forklift being replaced by an E25 battery electric we’ll basically get three forklifts for the running costs of one. These are very busy forklifts. Our shallot crop is a 52 weeks of the year operation and the broccolini goes for 30 weeks.”

Based on their experience to date, Vanstone Produce will be looking to add to its Linde battery electric forklifts ranks as its needs grow.

“Our experience with Linde has been very positive for many reasons,” Zac Vanstone said. “I would recommend their equipment for farming use without hesitation.”