PRZOOM - /newswire/ -
Mjölby, Sweden, 2011/11/23 - Handling hundreds of tons of unwashed potatoes daily, De Wulf in Belgium requires dependable forklift trucks that are well-equipped for rough terrain - Toyota Material Handling Europe (TMHE) - Toyota-Forklifts.eu.
This potato producer in Belgium relies on its heavy-duty Toyota 7FD40 counterbalanced forklift trucks to process hundreds of tonnes of unwashed potatoes every day.
De Wulf produces and distributes potatoes for both the local and international markets. Established 25 years ago at its six-hectare site, south-east of Brussels, today De Wulf has some 55 employees and facilities including chilled storage, production and food processing.
De Wulf handles about 60,000 tonnes of potatoes a year and can store about 32,000 stillages at a time, typically processing 200-250 stillages every day and despatching six or seven lorries a day to supermarkets. These figures increase significantly during the summer high season.
Potatoes arrive in two metre-high sacks on pallets, each weighing some 1350 kg. They are transferred to wooden stillages, and sorted for size in the process. These are then stored in the chilled area or sent for processing – e.g., washing and packaging – before being despatched to supermarket distribution centres.
The handling of the potatoes, from unloading the vehicles, through the processing stages to final despatch, is done with counterbalanced forklift trucks including the Toyota 7FD50 and Tonero. De Wulf also uses the heavy-duty Toyota 2TD25 towing tractor, which easily transports 30 tonnes of potatoes at a time throughout their chilled and processing areas – a method that is significantly more productive than handling the pallets individually using a forklift truck.
As potatoes are a fresh product, De Wulf responds to daily orders. The potatoes are sourced from about a dozen varieties in the chilled store and moved into the appropriate process. The final packets produced and despatched can range from 25 kilograms down to just one kilogram.
“The material handling equipment we use is subject to a lot of soil and dust from the product so we really need the forklifts to be robust and not suffer from abrasion and contamination,” comments Samuel Rase, De Wulf’s technical manager. “On top of this we work long shifts so we really need the highest quality and durability from our forklift trucks.
“The trucks also have to cope with the agricultural nature of the site. Loads are heavy, distances are great, and the floor and ground quality is very variable. We don’t worry about these thanks to the Toyota equipment.
“The Toyota 7FD50 counterbalance forklift truck is our workhorse. We use it all day to transport and deposit potatoes from the stillages into the washing process. For this we use a special forklift attachment that tips the potatoes into the conveyor system.”
Both the Tonero and the heavier 7FD50 have Toyota’s SAS (System of Active Stability) system, which helps to protect De Wulf’s tall and heavy loads as well as the forklift trucks.
De Wulf’s wooden stillages are easily damaged during handling and they have two people working full-time to keep them in good condition. “Our Toyota trucks, which are equipped with the SAS fork levelling control, really make a difference here,” continues Rase. “The driver can level the truck forks by simply pressing a button, removing a lot of the stress from heavy load handling. It saves us a lot of time and money.”
“Our site has some narrow passages and is rather dark in places but we are confident that stability, as well as durability, is not an issue with Toyota forklifts. We chose Toyota because of the reputation of its trucks for reliability in tough conditions and we have found that to be justified.”