A strong elationship with Linde Material Handling has turned Western Australian company Esperance Freight Lines’forklifts into an asset again.
Since its formation in 1988 Esperance Freight Lines has grown from 20 employees to 100 and its modern fleet includes 50 prime movers and over 200 trailers.
“Before talking to Linde we had been with the same forklift supplier for at least ten years,” Esperance Freight Lines Managing Director, Michael Harding said.
“What had started out as a good relationship became one where we weren’t happy with the equipment and we weren’t happy with the support.
“By the time Linde approached us we knew we wanted better forklifts and we wanted better service support. Our service costs were high, fuel and tyre costs were high and replacement parts costs were high.”
As a man with almost three decades experience around forklifts, Michael Harding also wanted a better “office” for his operators.
“We wanted forklifts which would be comfortable and user friendly over a long cross-dock shift at a busy freight depot,” he said.
But the switch to Linde would be a major one for Esperance Freight Lines, and the forklift operators’ opinions had to be taken into consideration.
“Despite our problems with the previous brand of forklifts we were prepared to look at an offer from them for new conventional drive trucks, Michael said.
“In the end it was Linde’s commitment to service and maintain our forklifts which convinced us. They have given us undertakings on service that we can totally rely on.
“If there is a problem with a machine which can’t be quickly resolved then a replacement forklift will be delivered to site to minimise downtime. That is crucial to our operations.
“Linde also gave our chief financial officer a very thorough presentation which laid out the total cost of ownership over a number of years. From those figures we can see how the savings on fuel, tyres and service really add up.
“On the cost of gas, tyres and even servicing, with Linde’s requirements for service only every 1000 hours you are well ahead there.”
The first Linde forklift to join Esperance Freight Lines’ cross-dock fleet was an E25 – 336 series electric counterbalance truck which spends 98 per cent of its time in chiller/freezer work at the Kewdale depot in Perth.
Despite the success of this first Linde on the fleet, Michael was initially wary of switching over more forklifts.
“To be honest there is some time required to become accustomed to the controls and drive system of the Linde,” he said. “But it isn’t difficult and once you are familiar with the 2.5 tonne H25T IC forklift it’s just so easy to operate.
“It’s like sitting in an armchair when you are sitting in a Linde forklift – too easy. From my first experience it was obvious the Linde was an entirely better piece of equipment than we had been using.
“It’s not a chore getting on to the forklift. You are sitting comfortably with everything at your fingertips.
“Linde’s representative provided a very thorough familiarisation when the new forklifts arrived, but we also shortened any learning period by renting a H25T IC forklift for a few months and letting our operators get used to it before six more identical Linde forklifts arrived.”
Esperance Freight Lines specified hydraulic tine positioners for the forklifts because of the time savings possible in a freight depot routinely handling various size pallets and skids.
“Productivity and fuel efficiency were the two factors which helped convinced us to go with Linde for our forklift needs,” Michael Harding said.
“It’s early days as yet, but already the signs are there that we have made the right decision. In our situation if the forklifts are not working then the company is not performing.
“We call ourselves “The Can Do Company” and Linde’s approach to service and support is a very good match for that.”
"In the end it was Linde’s commitment to service and maintain our forklifts which convinced us. They have given us undertakings on service that we can totally rely on."
Managing Director, Esperance Freight Lines