July 14, 2010

Raymond unveils first fuel cell-powered order-picker

United Natural Foods will be launch customer.

By Mark B. Solomon

The Raymond Corp. unveiled on Tuesday what it called the material handling industry's first order-picker capable of being powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Raymond also announced that United Natural Foods Inc., a distributor of natural, organic, and specialty foods throughout North America, will be the order-picker's launch customer. United Natural Foods will install the order-picker in its Sarasota, Fla., distribution center as part of a program to convert the fleet of lift trucks working in the 352,000-square-foot DC to fuel cell power.

The order-picker comes equipped with a redesigned 21-inch battery box that can accommodate a fuel cell, Raymond said. Because of size compatibility issues between a fuel cell and a traditional lift-truck battery, the Greene, N.Y.-based company needed to reconfigure the battery compartment of its Model 5500 order-picker to ensure that it could properly hold a fuel cell.

United Natural Foods said the switch to fuel cells will make the DC operation more efficient and productive by eliminating the time needed to charge, change, and maintain traditional batteries. The conversion will also cut carbon emissions in the DC by 132 metric tons a year, equal to the emissions of 35 cars, United Natural Foods said.

More articles by Mark B. Solomon

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