Fowler Welch, a UK-based fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) supply chain company, has increased efficiency and productivity at several of its warehouses using batteries and charging equipment from Hoppecke Industrial Batteries. The company has also made substantial reductions to its operating costs and its carbon footprint.

In a three-way partnership involving Fowler Welch, Hoppecke and materials handling firm, Linde Material Handling, the warehouses have been fitted with brand new and upgraded equipment after Fowler Welch carried out a massive expansion programme. The company’s business had been growing steadily and it needed greater capacity and the ability to turn orders around faster than ever.

After expanding into a 500,000ft2 ambient depot in Heywood, Greater Manchester, Fowler Welch wanted to move away from counterbalance and fork lift equipment to more pallet handling equipment. And at its warehouse in Spalding, Lincs (where the picking operation has gone from handling 600,000 cases to just short of a million), the company expanded from having 25 pieces of materials handling equipment to 40. These include five new reach trucks and four pallet transporters, for which Hoppecke supplied all the power solutions.

The Hoppecke offering was based around the trak air traction energy systems which cut energy costs by up to 30% and maximised the availability of fork lift trucks and other handling equipment. Installed in the Spalding depot, the trak air system consists of batteries that use electrolyte circulation and high frequency chargers which ensure rapid and gentle battery charging. Fowler Welch retained its existing Hoppecke chargers, saving the cost of investing in new units, and upgraded them to work with trak air.

The system is augmented by the trak monitor call forward system which automatically makes the correct battery available to the user every time, ensuring easy battery changing, maximum efficiency and minimum down-time – trak monitor has been installed in the Heywood depot and a warehouse in Washington, Tyne and Wear. Hoppecke even supplied short term rental batteries for Fowler Welch when it was experiencing a particularly busy period. The whole package is backed up by Hoppecke’s ‘Power for Life’ battery service and maintenance contract.

Fowler Welch’s warehouse manager, Dave Dillon, said, “I’ve known Hoppecke for some time and been very pleased with what they’d done for us in the past. So I was happy to get them in not just for our equipment replacement programme but for our expansion programme as well. I’d had my eyes opened regarding the incredible research and technology behind Hoppecke’s batteries and was very keen to upgrade to trak air.”

He added that before the recent changes were made, opportune charging was common in the warehouses and this had a detrimental effect on batteries. The trak monitor call forward system has eliminated that problem.

He continued, “With the upgraded Hoppecke system, charging is much faster and the control of the batteries is much better. There is no guesswork in terms of battery changing and trak monitor makes sure the operator is using the best battery in the best condition at any given time.”

Commenting on the three-way partnership and on using Hoppecke’s battery solutions in its materials handling equipment, Linde Material Handling East’s corporate accounts manager, Scott Dawson said, “The strength of the partnership, reliability and after sales support made working with Hoppecke the obvious choice.”