NEW BREMEN, Ohio (October 13, 2006) – Setco has come a long way in a short time. In just twenty years, this manufacturer of plastic bottles and containers has grown from one molding machine to 48. They work with hundreds of different molds. Many are custom-made molds and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s a factory that’s now humming 24 hours a day with 250,000 square feet of warehouse space. Setco has two areas dedicated to warehousing. As boxes of product leave the manufacturing facility, they are taken to an adjacent staging area where they are sorted onto pallets and loaded on trailers. Some trucks head for customer locations, but most take a two-mile trip to a larger warehouse where most customer orders are processed.
All of Setco’s growth and activity placed heavy demands on their material handling trucks, a fleet of LP-powered forklifts. Amid concerns over frequent breakdowns and a desire to create a better environment for operators, Setco Purchasing Manager Linda Lugo was given the task of converting the plant’s fleet to electric. “We had been using a few Crown M model lift trucks, so I was aware of the Crown name,” she said. “But to be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about the differences between gas and electric lift trucks.”
The difference was dramatic.
With the help of her Crown dealer, A.J. Jersey, Linda discovered a dramatic difference between gas and electric lift trucks. One of the main differences was lifecycle costs – particularly when it came to fuel consumption.
“When we sat down with Crown representatives and calculated what it was costing us in propane and what it would cost us in electricity,” Linda related. “The results were astounding.”
Based on Setco’s kilowatt/hour costs, the approximate cost to charge a battery was one-fifth the cost for a tank of LP gas at the time. Setco was going through hundreds of tanks of propane monthly on their 18 trucks. Compounded over five years, the difference became substantial.
“The amount of money we were going to save just kept adding up,” said Linda. “When we took into account more than just the fuel savings and included the effects of fewer repairs and our financing arrangement, we wound up saving far more than we originally planned.”
Making the switch.
Those savings provided the room in the plant’s bottom line for the necessary infrastructure to be put in place for the conversion to electric trucks. This included an upgraded electrical system to accommodate battery charging and a ventilation system for the charging area. Linda appreciated the way her Crown dealer’s personnel responded to her needs.
“Our Crown representatives could not have been more helpful in making our transition to electric,” Linda said. “They shared their knowledge of local building codes and regulations regarding ventilation, and they also helped me identify a location in the plant that would work well as our battery charging area. They weren’t just about making a sale. They wanted to make sure we were going to have the best experience possible with our lift trucks.”
Operators are more than comfortable.
Setco’s new fleet of 48-volt Crown FC 4000 Series sit-down counterbalanced riders hit the floor in January 2005. So how did the operators take to the new fleet?
“As soon as the operators sat down on the Crown trucks, they said ‘a-h-h,’” said Warehouse Manager Henry Birnbaum.
“Crown trucks were a 180-degree change for the better,” said Baljit Natt, Warehouse Group Leader and lift truck operator. “I’ve been an operator for 18 years and have never been on a truck more comfortable than Crown.”
“Every single one of our operators have said they are happy with the Crown lift trucks,” echoed Warehouse Supervisor Ralph Capizzi. “They love the seat. It absorbs the shock when they’re going over dock boards. The mirrors are also much better.”
“The Crown travel and hydraulic controls are also right where your hands want to be,” added Biljit. “They are comfortable and easy to reach.”
While Crown’s advanced ergonomic designs have been a welcome change with operators, they also appreciate that the FC 4000 Series trucks provide the same travel speeds and performance they were accustomed to with their gas trucks.
A source of pride.
Converting to Crown has delivered many benefits to Setco and their lift truck operators. A big one is how fleet management has improved. “Our drivers would often exchange their propane tanks at the end of a shift – discarding whatever was left,” said Linda. “That wasted fuel is no longer a problem.”
The good will felt by the operators also has been a source of pride for Linda. “We hold monthly crew meetings and we’ve been proud to show how the company’s commitment to operator health and safety is evident in the purchase of the Crown trucks,” said Linda. “Operators used to fight over which machine was in the best shape. Now they are taking ownership. They treat their truck with pride, like it’s their own vehicle.”