Sydney Markets “provides the best environment that supports competitive trade and effective distribution,” according to a banner at its entrance. It is a statement which could equally apply to specialised business, Flemington Unloading Services, or its forklift supplier, Linde. Flemington Unloading Services operates within Sydney Markets seven days a week, unloading and delivering produce for clients which range from national and international transport companies to small one-person trucking businesses. “What we do isn’t really a full time role for transport companies whose trucks arrive with mixed loads from different growers to be delivered to different locations within the market,” said manager Shannon Knight. “We don’t operate our own storage facility, so every pallet on one of our forklifts is going somewhere else. Without our forklifts we wouldn’t have a business. It’s pretty much flat out from the time you get here to the time you go home”
From a small start nearly 20 years ago Flemington Unloading Services has grown to handle over 60 per cent of unloading within Sydney Markets, using a fleet of 20 Linde 2.5 tonne capacity gas powered counterbalance forklifts. On average it unloads and delivers more than 1200 pallets per night, dealing with a steady flow of trucks into the markets from 10pm until about 4am. The company hasn’t always operated a Linde fleet, but it has included a Linde forklift within its fleet for several years. As anyone who has visited the markets will know, forklifts are central to nearly everything which happens there. Changes of forklift supplier are never made without lengthy consideration. Shannon Knight said “As a first step we moved to five Linde 2.5 tonne gas forklifts, then to 12 and now we have a Linde only fleet.”
Our decision was all about quality, comfort, fuel efficiency and productivity
The Linde forklifts cover long distances on every shift. Each forklift does up to 100 deliveries per shift and those deliveries can take anything from 30 seconds to ten minutes, travelling at 15 to 20 kilometres per hour from the railway side of the market to warehouses at its far ends. “Originally there was some hesitation about how well Linde forklifts would perform in this role, but they’ve been great. All are electronically governed to a maximum speed of 20 kilometres per hour. The Linde system is electronic and not just a governor on the engine revs, so it seems a better system than what we had before.”
Flemington Unloading Services’ operators are on their forklifts for six to eight hours in a shift, in a business where no two days are the same. Some forklifts are busy unloading trucks and others are busy delivering pallets all over the markets. “All of our Linde forklifts are fitted with a high load guard because in the markets you carry a lot of high pallets, even though our heaviest load would only be around 1100 kilograms,” Shannon Knight said. ”We were using 1.8 tonne capacity forklifts previously, but we are getting much better results using the Linde 2.5 tonne capacity forklifts. Anything else would be a waste of gas and money.”
Flemington Unloading Services’ estimates the switch to Linde forklifts has resulted in a fuel consumption improvement of between 20 and 25 per cent. Other benefits of the switch have also worked to the company’s advantage. Linde reliability and the company’s service performance have also impressed the customer, though little has gone wrong with its forklifts. Shannon Knight simply calls or sends an SMS to a Linde service technician permanently on site at the markets if attention is required. Maintenance and repairs are carried out during the day when the forklifts are normally idle.
“The Linde forklifts definitely get the job done,” he said. “They pick up a lot more quickly than other forklifts we have used. I drove another brand of forklift in a previous job and I have noticed how the Lindes give you the ability to see more, which is very handy around the markets. The position of the controls also makes the operator’s life a lot easier. The way the controls are set up in the Linde allows you to sit back in your seat, instead of having to lean forward as you need to in other forklifts. The pedal set-up also lets you sit back in a more comfortable position without twisting your body when you are reversing.”
“A lot of the other forklift operators in the market are only covering small distances with maybe ten or 15 pallets a night. Our guys are covering the whole market back and forth all night, so they definitely need to have their wits about them and to have a forklift which helps them. Since we’ve had the Lindes, we’ve picked up more work as well. When we picked up a new customer at the start of the year Linde was able to get us three new forklifts ready to go within a week. By the same token, when things have quietened down they have shown the flexibility to let us reduce our fleet size to suit. This is one of the advantages of the short term rental agreement we have with Linde. Fruit and vegetable are seasonal, so in winter there can be a 20 to 30 per cent decline in what we need. The switch to Linde has definitely been a good move for the company.”
For more information on how the Linde Rental Solution can help your business, contact Linde Material Handling today.