RX 60-70 electric forklift trucks in use at Starwood

Challenge: To transport the heavy loads found in the wooden panel industry both safely and cleanly, and to reduce operational costs

Solution: Material flow planning and the changeover from IC trucks to STILL’s sootfree electric forklifts

Products: RX 60-70 electric forklift trucks

Starwood is leading the field in two ways: the Turkish producer of chipboard and MDF panels is not only adopting electric forklift trucks in an industry which has, up until now, been dominated by internal combustion forklift trucks, they are also promoting women in a typically ‘male domain’.

In the wood panel industry intra-company logistics are particularly challenging as the wooden panels are so heavy that, until now, only IC trucks have had sufficient power to be able to move the goods. Also, cleanliness is a top priority where most wooden products are concerned, so the soot emitted from the diesel forklifts a natural enemy. An enemy, which could be kept at bay in various ways, but never fully defeated. Until now. This is because there are now soot-free solutions for this field of application, and the particularly good ones come from STILL.

An electric pioneer

Starwood, the chipboard and MDF panel manufacturer, introduced a new solution at their production location in Inegöl, Turkey at the end of last year, which is clean in the truest sense of the word. Twenty-six RX 60 electric forklift trucks with a lifting capacity of 7 tonnes have shown there exactly what modern electric forklift trucks can do. Working together with four other powerful 5-tonne RX 60 forklift trucks, four RX 60s with a lifting capacity of 2.5 tonnes and seven R 07 tow tractors, the STILL fleet moves up to 4500 tonnes of wood every day. Diesel is now a thing of the past. The chipboard and MDF panels are not only produced on the premises, which cover approximately 220,000 square metres; depending on the customer's order, they may also be coated with melanin or painted on site.

Every day around 25,000 panels will be transported by the STILL electric forklift trucks and tow tractors. The raw panels are then transported from the presses into a cooling down area. From here they are taken to the grinding area, and finally to the melanin presses. A quality check is carried out before the panels, which have been finished according to the customer’s wishes, are transported to the block storage using the R 07 tow tractors: the panels are lifted using suction nozzles, turned at a 45-degree angle and lit using spotlights. If the trained eyes of the quality-assurance teams do not pick up on any irregularities, the panels are loaded onto pallets and transported to block storage.

This is where the powerful 7-tonne STILL electric forklift trucks come into play. The powerhouses are not only used to organise block storage, they also load the lorries, which roll through the warehouse one after the other on a special track.

Increased output, reduced costs

Tahir Kitapci, Head of Logistics at the Starwood plant, is delighted with the new STILL forklift trucks. The work done by the electric tow tractors was previously undertaken by tractors, and instead of the modern RX 60 forklift truck, the company previously used IC trucks from a South Korean manufacturer. The new forklifts not only offer significantly higher performance, they are also more compact, more comfortable and can be operated with greater precision. This makes the work easier and safer in equal measure. An additional plus point of the electric power machines are the running costs. “As a rule of thumb, the operating costs of a diesel forklift are approximately EUR 200 a day. With the STILL electric forklift trucks they are only around EUR 80”, says Tahir Kitapci. This figure doesn’t even include the costs of servicing and spare parts, which are also generally higher for the IC trucks than they are for the electric forklifts.

Women in the driving seat

Starwood also proves itself to be a pioneer in their sector when it comes to their employees. In Turkey, as in most countries, the occupational profile of a forklift truck driver is predominantly male. However, anyone looking into the cab of a STILL forklift at Starwood will often be greeted by a female face, with the electric tow tractors even being exclusively driven by women. Starwood has set itself the goal of promoting women in this field, and amongst other measures offers regular forklift truck training sessions specifically for women, designed to level out the playing field for women in this area. “All of our employees do a very good job. Many of them come from small villages and have already had experience with agricultural machinery there, and they are just as diligent in their work as their male colleagues”, says Tahir Starwood has set itself the goal of promoting women in this field, and amongst other measures offers regular forklift truck training sessions specifically for women. 3 — STILL I Starwood Kitapci, reporting on the positive experiences with female employees, who also manoeuvre the large electric forklift trucks through the warehouse unerringly.

Continuing expansion

The proportion of female employees could soon see further increases, as the wood panel manufacturer is set for expansion and therefore actively seeking new team members. An additional 21,000 square metre logistics centre is under construction not far from the existing production facility. And here too there will be a need for additional industrial trucks. Starwood’s experience with STILL ARSER, and in particular with the strong electric forklift trucks, are a very good indicator for the development of a successful partnership.