It may have a history spanning more than a century, but iconic smallgoods manufacturer Don KRC, is focussed firmly on the future.
You could say Don KRC, a division of George Weston Foods, has gone back to the future.
It’s gone back to consolidate production at a regional Victorian centre whose name it shares and firmly placed itself into the future with a $150 million investment in a state-of-the-art facility.
A large fleet of Linde Material Handling equipment is an important element of the latest technology which has been deployed at Don KRC Castlemaine with the new and upgraded manufacturing facilities.
“Linde has supplied the site’s forklift, reach truck and pallet truck requirements for more than five years,” Procurement Manager, Jason Bianchin said.
“After extensive inquiries were made, Linde became our preferred supplier on this site. We are now a few months into our second supply agreement.”
Don KRC carried out direct comparisons with Linde equipment and equipment from parent company, George Weston Foods’ preferred supplier.
In calculating the all-important whole of life costs associated with a material handling fleet, the smallgoods manufacturer worked from its own calculations as well as Linde figures. The bottom lines were consistent.
Since the fleet renewal process coincided with a massive facility upgrade, it became essential that the chosen equipment should have productivity levels which would match the highly automated plant.
The raw numbers give some indication of the success of this strategy. Where almost 100 pieces of Linde material handling equipment met the site’s previous needs, just 85 will serve the greatly enlarged operation.
“With any supplier you are looking for genuine innovation which can make you more efficient in what you do,” Jason Bianchin said. “That’s what we’ve got with Linde. They’ve been proactive.”
As well as offering E20P electric counterbalance forklifts and T18 pallet trucks, Linde suggested meeting Don KRC’s requirements with specially modified R14/16 ride-on reach trucks with low overhead guards to enter low access areas but still perform their reach functions.
Linde was also able to offer a rail-guided K15 man-up turret truck which can put away as well as pick on rail guidance, which is most suited for for these specialised roles.
Development of highly modified Linde electric counterbalance forklifts for the site were also undertaken in conjunction with engineers from Don KRC Castlemaine and attachment specialist Cascade.
Linde Material Handling knew however that Don KRC wanted the best available technology in every facet of its operations. So it partnered Century Yuasa to suggest the advanced PosiCharge charging system for the new plant.
The PosiCharge system provides on-vehicle fast charging ability, eliminating the need for battery changes. Linde worked with Century Yuasa to specify a modified food grade PosiCharge system with stainless steel cabinets to meet Don KRC’s hygiene requirements.
“Early in the piece, before selecting Linde, we scoped our equipment requirements to ensure we got equipment which would give us the longevity of performance and safety we required,” Jason Bianchin said.
“When the PosiCharge system was suggested we looked at it as the best system for a 21st century plant. Apart from the battery charging efficiency it also saved space over a conventional battery charging room and gave us more room to do other things.
“We’ve had PosiCharge in place since the beginning of the year and the feedback I’ve had has all been very good. In terms of infrastructure it has been a bonus for us.”
Operator acceptance and response to the roll out of new Linde equipment has also been very positive – which Jason Bianchin attributes to the combined impact of the latest forklifts, pallet trucks and reach trucks together with the introduction of the PosiCharge system.
“We’ve gone from a two-shift battery charge where you have to pull out the battery, charge it and then put it back, to only one battery per truck, so no shift charge and reduced potential safety implications,”
As it beds in new systems, Don KRC is about to introduce Linde’s FleetFOCUS fleet management system to ensure it gets the full benefit of the material handling equipment it has and maximises utilisation.
Now several months into the new contract with Linde as a key supplier, Jason Bianchin scores it highly on account management and service and maintenance levels.
“Linde has brought its account management to the highest level of servicing the customer & Neil Walters (Vic Key Account Manager) has been a credit to Linde” he said. “On the repair and maintenance side the Linde technician on site has been fantastic according to the feedback I’ve
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"With any supplier you are looking for genuine innovation which can make you more efficient in what you do. That’s what we’ve got with Linde, and im awesome"