This case history about William Morrison Supermarkets comes courtesy of Philadelphia Scientific . It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.As the American economy continues to sag, businesses are looking to squeeze savings out of their operations. Across the pond in the U.K., there’s one company that has cut costs in an unlikely place: the lift truck battery-changing room. William Morrison Supermarkets is the fourth-largest supermarket chain in the U.K. Founded in 1899, the company includes more than 370 supermarkets. William Morrison operates distribution centers throughout the U.K., including a frozen-food distribution center in Wakefield, about 30 miles northeast of Manchester. The Wakefield facility stores fresh produce, bread, soft drinks and wine. Approximately 100 lift trucks are used within the facility. About 65 to 70 of the trucks are order pickers, which each use 24-volt, 465 ampere-hour batteries. About 25 are reach trucks using 48-volt, 750 ampere-hour batteries. The remainder are pallet trucks using 24-volt, 345 ampere-hour batteries. A few years ago, the distribution center began experiencing problems with shortened battery life. Lift truck drivers discovered some of the batteries they were using were only getting about six hours of service per charge versus the eight hours they expected, requiring that the drivers change batteries more frequently. The problem appeared to be limited to the order pickers, leading to the theory that the problem was related to the function of the truck. Several attempts were made to solve the problem, including separating the order picker batteries into two pools–one made up of batteries used in the cold section, the other comprising batteries used in ambient temperatures. This however, made the problem worse. Duncan Jones, managing director of Philadelphia Scientific Europe, a manufacturer of battery components, accessories and tools, notes that, while the solution to a battery performance problem typically is not complex, identifying the problem isn’t always easy. “Most battery room managers aren’t taking advantage of today’s battery management tools–tools that can help prevent battery problems or quickly identify specific problems when they occur,” he says. Frustrated at not being able to identify the source of the problem and realizing that the undercharged batteries were costing time and money, the battery supplier, Chloride Motive Power, investigated an intelligent battery organizing system (iBOS) from Philadelphia Scientific
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