Sainsbury’s and Toyota trial new battery technology at distribution centre

Sainsbury’s and Toyota Material Handling UK are piloting an alternative battery technology at one of the supermarket’s distribution centres.

The two companies, who have a long standing relationship, will be testing the new Lithium Ion technology in one of Sainsbury’s largest distribution centres in the UK from the end of September 2011.

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, said Toyota.

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 the work in Sainsbury’s distribution centres, Toyota said it has been studying equipment usage over several months. A wireless information system has been 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, said: “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.”