Electric dreams: Laker Builders Merchant achieves electric forklift ambition

Electric dreams: Laker Builders Merchant achieves electric forklift ambition

As part of its wider sustainability drive, Laker Builders Merchant is celebrating the achievement of its long-standing ambition to be running a fully electric forklift fleet.

The recent delivery of additional new electric Combilift machines means that Laker Builders Merchant now boasts a fully electric forklift fleet across all branches. MD Steve Robinson said: “We’ve fulfilled our ambition of going fully electric on all our forklifts and I’m pleased to report we’ve reduced our CO2 by over 20 tonnes per year through this implementation. It’s a real win for the environment and a testament to the commitment Laker has to achieving Carbon Zero.”

The independent merchant, which operates from four branches across Surrey and Sussex, says it is working to lower its carbon across the whole business not just for the future of the planet but also to improve the welfare of its team and give them a better working environment — for example, having a completely green fleet means that the yard team are no longer breathing in diesel fumes.

Once again, materials handling specialist Forkway worked with Laker to understand its requirements and any changes that would need to be made in the yard for the Combilifts to operate. Laker’s branch teams “outdid themselves”, getting the branches ready in a week so the new Combilifts could operate safely. Forkway’s Steve Noble recommended the CBE3000 because it was designed for the safe and efficient handling of long and bulky loads like timber that the merchant moves on a daily basis. Being multi-directional, this Combilift thrives in small spaces, something described as “perfect for all of the Laker warehouses”.

Laker Builders Merchant is celebrating the achievement of its long-standing ambition to be running a fully electric forklift fleet.

Steve suggested the flexibility of EP EFL302 Lithium Counterbalance machines for the yards and the versatile Combilift CBE3000 for the warehouse areas, with the Combilifts also able to double up as a yard machine during peak periods.

He said: “Once the ideal truck specifications had been confirmed and we knew it was possible to meet the Carbon Zero brief, the challenge fell to delivering all of this this within Laker’s budget — with significantly reduced running cost across the fleet on both fuel and maintenance. With no engine oil or fuel filters to change, servicing costs greatly reduced over the old ICE fleet.

“Fuel saving are thousands per year. And with the Lithium batteries expected to last well over the five-year warranty period, the fleet will be providing cost savings and environmentally positive benefits for many years to come.”

The yard team at Laker are also pleased with how the new Combilifts operate, commenting: “It’s made such a difference already. It’s compact and takes a heavier load. It gives a smooth run, and the battery lasts a long time, so we never have to worry about it dying on us.” A further benefit is the “massive reduction” in noise pollution as, although not necessarily noticeable at the time, long-term exposure to loud and persistent noises can cause hearing loss. These loud noises can be extremely distracting, as well as a risk to the other workers’ safety.

Laker’s partnership with Forkway continues with the provision of new training for everyone so they can safely operate the Combilifts. They have all been provided with a training certificate and Forkway will be back to refresh regularly, whilst the supplier is also accredited by The Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register (ITSSAR).

Due to its ongoing decarbonisation programme, Laker was selected by West Sussex County Council to represent Crawley as its Low Carbon Champion to highlight to other SMEs what can be done, especially in the construction industry.

A version of this article appeared in the July/August edition of PBM. Click the link to read the full digital issue.

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