Whole Foods Market DC to Convert to Lift Truck Fuel Cell Power

Whole Foods Market plans to use 61 fuel-cell-powered lift trucks to move material throughout its food distribution center (DC) in Landover, Md.

The natural and organic foods supermarket company will use GenDrive fuel-cell units, supplied by Plug Power Inc. to power its lift truck fleet, starting in 2010.

Genco Supply Chain Solutions, a third-party logistics provider (3PL), is providing funding for the Whole Foods project through a $6.1 million grant Genco received from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in April as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Genco also used some of the DOE funds to help a Wegmans DC convert to fuel cell power.

Alliance Material Handling, a Crown lift truck dealer, will supply the lift trucks for the Whole Foods DC. The fleet will consist of 45 class-3 pallet jacks and 16 class-2 standup reach trucks, all powered by GenDrive fuel cells.

Whole Foods wanted to move away from lead-acid batteries to improve productivity and achieve environmental and economic benefits, according to Plug Power.

"Whole Foods Market is committed to healthy food and a healthy planet,” remarks Joe Strong, facility team leader at Whole Foods. “We are fulfilling that commitment by choosing to use greener technology in our own operations that will improve our productivity and lower our long-term costs."

Plug Power states GenDrive fuel-cell units can reduce up to 80% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a material handling fleet, roughly the equivalent of removing two passenger vehicles from the road per year for each fuel-cell-powered lift truck.

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