Sainsbury's and Toyota Material Handling UK are working in partnership to trial alternative battery technology Lithium Ion. The two companies, who have a long-standing relationship, will be testing the new battery technology in one of Sainsbury's largest distribution centres in the UK from the end of September. Both companies are known for their dedication to innovation and continuous improvement, making this partnership a perfect fit.
The trial, part of an initiative by Toyota Material Handling Europe, will include a range of warehouse equipment integral to distribution centre operations including heavy-duty powered pallet trucks and horizontal order pickers. These trucks are often required to work multiple shifts meaning battery efficiency and battery charging is at the forefront of operational planning.
Gary King, Logistics Operations Support Manager for Sainsbury's said "Sainsbury's is dedicated to finding new ways to work efficiently and reduce environmental impact. We have been working closely with Toyota for a number of years and by sharing our ideas and opportunities we are actively looking for a practical solution to meet this target".
In addition to Toyota's experience working with Sainsbury's within its distribution centres, an in-depth study of the practical dayto-day usage of the equipment has been taking place over several months. A wireless information system, part of Toyota I_Site fleet management technology, was fitted to a sample of trucks in order to examine truck utilisation, battery charging and battery changing behaviour in a practical environment. Sam Coles, Commercial Director for Toyota Material Handling UK explains "understanding the practical application of a distribution centre of this size is extremely important to the project. What we have found has aided the development of an efficient battery management system by Toyota Material Handling Europe which will work with Lithium Ion batteries to ensure higher levels of productivity."
He added: "Developing innovative technology and working to find solutions to help improve business and production is at the cornerstone of Toyota's values and is something that the entire company strives towards on an ongoing basis."
Both Sainsbury's and Toyota are focused on taking a considered approach to the new technology to ensure they are receiving the greatest benefits in terms of improving productivity, reducing environmental impact and lowering operating costs.
Coles continues "When looking at trialling new battery technology, it is important that we work closely with one of our key customers, ensuring that we can supply a practical solution to working environments. Toyota and Sainsbury's share a similar focus in finding practical, long-term solutions in relation to new environmental innovations and this process is helping us to do that."
Toyota Material Handling UK has been working with Sainsbury's for nearly thirty years in both distribution centres and in back-of-stores providing a full range of products and supporting services.