When it comes to “green credentials” you’d have to go a long way to find a company with more credibility than InterfaceFLOR.
And that’s why this fast growing carpet tile manufacturer took such care before ultimately selecting Linde as the supplier of a fleet of 18 short term rental forklifts.
InterfaceFLOR is the Australian arm of a billion dollar international company whose American founder is an award winning champion of sustainability. Its local operations were originally identified by the well known brand Heuga.
The company manufactures its carpet tiles in a factory at Picton south of Sydney and has a warehouse at Eastern Creek in Sydney’s west as well as a showroom at Surry Hills, not far from the CBD and sales outlets in other states. Its forklifts are used as an aid to manufacture at Picton and for moving stock at the Eastern Creek central warehouse.
In an era when there is plenty of lip service to the environment and ample evidence of hollow “greenwash”, InterfaceFLOR is the real deal, dedicated to waste elimination and minimising use of raw materials, non-renewable energy and water.
“We are climate neutral through offsets already,” InterfaceFLOR Engineering Manager, Bill Davidson said. “Sustainability isn’t something new for us, we’ve been working at it for 15 years.”
From 1 July 2007, all carbon emissions generated during the production of InterfaceFLOR’s modular carpet tiles have been eliminated by either operational or technological change, or by the application of carbon offsets.
InterfaceFLOR is committed to environmental sustainability, with its MissionZERO program committing it to eliminate any negative impact it may have on the environment by the year 2020. Changing its forklift fleet is the latest step along InterfaceFLOR’s path to that goal.
“We had a bit of a rag-tag fleet with equipment from several suppliers,” Bill Davidson said. “It was an aged fleet as well, with some forklifts owned by us and others with us for several years through rental agreements.
“It was getting complicated knowing who to call for service requirements, so one aim was to pull it all together under one umbrella. We started looking at what was available and sought submissions from several potential suppliers.
“Our decision to rent forklifts was related to business growth. The company has grown and changed dramatically over the last two years, so we didn’t want to lock ourselves into arrangements which were not completely flexible.
“We are also keeping a close eye on low and zero emission technology in the forklift industry, such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicle development, where we know Linde is one of the pioneers.”
InterfaceFLOR’s selection process included requesting invited bidders to give a presentation specifically on sustainability. It examined not only the forklifts on offer, but also looked at sustainability initiatives within the companies themselves.
“Linde’s efficient field service operations with their GPS tracking of technicians’ vans were a positive and the technicians themselves were also conscious of sustainability issues,” Bill Davidson said.
“We looked at the emissions from the forklifts themselves. That’s not just a matter of checking the equipment specifications before you buy, although that is important. In our case we have set up a regime where each piece of Linde equipment has its emission levels checked twice each year as part of routine servicing.
“We are renting on a 12 monthly basis and then reviewing where we are going. A flexible arrangement such as short term rental suits our changing business needs.
“After just a couple of months with Linde we have already made changes to our rental agreements, because we are doing less warehousing at our Picton plant and more at our Eastern Creek site.
“Linde supplied a mixture of forklifts. Some are new and others are a year or so old. If there are any issues Linde are very responsive.
“We had doubts whether one supplier could meet all of our needs. For example we did have some small reach trucks in the fleet, but Linde was able to provide us with some 1.8 tonne electric forklifts which have all the manoeuvrability and capability of the old reach trucks.”
InterfaceFLOR is also maximising the efficiency and managing the utilisation of its rented fleet with the help of the Linde FleetFOCUS fleet management program.
“That’s something which we couldn’t achieve in the past because of our mixed fleet,” Bill Davidson said.
“Linde are helping us to interpret the data from the reports the system produces and that means we can manage the forklifts we have and also review our future requirements.
“Since switching over to an all Linde rental fleet we have noticed an improvement in the engagement of our workforce. The employees have seen the commitment the company has made to new equipment and they have responded.
“Reporting of equipment problems is happening promptly and then the drivers see the standard of the Linde service work carried out, so it all feeds into a better work environment.”
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