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Quality equipment and engineering support boost recycling plant’s productivity

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Quality equipment and engineering support boost recycling plant’s productivity

Envirowales - Content ImageA purpose-designed materials handling solution that copes with the heat and dust of a demanding lead-acid battery recycling plant is at the heart of the collaboration between Yale® dealer Briggs Equipment and Envirowales. Thanks to dedicated engineering support, including a proactive approach to maintenance, which promotes workplace safety while also keeping the fleet running at peak performance, the company is set to enhance its reputation for recycling efficiency.

Based in Ebbw Vale, Envirowales has invested £58million to create one of the most modern facilities in Europe, where it employs more than 150 people. Utilising the best available techniques and operating to high environmental standards, the plant handles in excess of 300 tonnes of batteries daily. With over 900 tonnes of recycled lead leaving the facility each week, Envirowales is setting the pace with an impressive recycling efficiency rate of more than 95%.

The company recycles as many of the constituent parts of a battery as possible to produce lead alloys, used predominantly in the manufacture of building products, which it sells throughout Europe. Other products include sodium sulphate, one of the main ingredients in animal feeds and washing power, and polypropylene, which undergoes further processing before being incorporated into a variety of goods.

Developing an effective relationship

Envirowales began working with Briggs Equipment in 2012, when it made the decision to switch from a mixed fleet to Yale equipment.

It was not simply a case of supplying new machines, however. Briggs reviewed the company’s entire operation and took the time to understand the overall business challenge before developing a solution that would help the recycling plant achieve its objectives. Taking into consideration both current requirements and future needs, Yale and Briggs created a customised materials handling resource. Lift trucks capable of performing multiple tasks in a harsh environment were specified along with full asset management support, to maximise throughput and reduce operational costs.

A reliable materials handling solution is vital for the Envirowales recycling operation and Logistics Manager Craig Williams is extremely impressed with how well Yale lift trucks stand up to working in an acidic environment characterised by airborne metallic dust.

He said,“We need quality equipment we can depend on, day in day out, and the Yale machines have certainly proved their worth in what must be one of the toughest applications around. When the contract came up for renewal, we had no hesitation in opting for more of the same.”

Investing in 11 counterbalance diesel lift trucks–including 3-tonne, 5.5-tonne and 12-tonne machines and eight GDP 40VX 4-tonne machines –and some rotator attachments, Envirowales has replaced its five-year old Yale trucks on a like-for-like basis while also adding extra capacity to support its growing operation. The equipment is valued at £350,000 and has been supplied on a 48-month contract with full maintenance support provided by Briggs engineers.

Full asset management

The Envirowales recycling application creates its own unique set of challenges and by providing a complete asset management solution with dedicated ongoing support to ensure optimum performance, including a proactive approach to servicing and maintenance, Briggs is able to add value, developing the relationship into a true business partnership.

Since it would be impossible to keep dust out of the lift truck engines, Briggs worked with the Yale engineering team to specify the original fleet with three options. A more open chassis design, vented hooding and a lint screen positioned in front of the radiator that can be removed and washed were all part of an application specific solution designed to expel dust and prevent it from causing machine breakdowns.

Prior to the introduction of the Yale fleet in 2012, damage due to the harsh site conditions and the nature of the recycling application in general was costing Envirowales around £33,000 a year, while the company was incurring a further annual bill of some £27,000 due to equipment misuse by operators. During the past five years, to 2017, the company calculates that it has been able to realise operational savings of around £300,000, as the materials handling resource created by Yale and Briggs has supported a major reduction in damage and unplanned maintenance costs.

Craig Williams said, “The original Yale and Briggs solution gave us the capability to monitor our fleet properly and identify where and why we were incurring additional costs. We’ve been working closely with our dedicated Briggs support team ever since to spot trends and take action to eliminate issues before they escalate, and the financial savings have been a real eye-opener.

“If a truck goes down it can cost us thousands of pounds in lost productivity, so a sound support network is essential. There’s always someone on hand from Briggs to help, whatever the query, and our dedicated engineer is one of the team. If we do get a problem, he works tirelessly, to get things back on track as soon as possible. The new Yale trucks and ongoing support from Briggs will help us deliver on three fronts; as well as maintaining operational performance, our materials handling set up is geared to keeping costs down while also improving workplace safety.”

Essential support

To maintain productivity by minimising truck downtime – key benefits that Envirowales has come to expect as the norm –the new Yale lift trucks have been modified to cope with the demanding environment. Previous options have been retained, while the new trucks feature oil immersed brakes that require only one oil change over the life of the contract.

The new trucks will be in use for up to 1,500 hours a year. Ordinarily, this would warrant three services a year, but due to the extreme nature of the application, best practice warrants four services a year. By taking a proactive approach to maintenance –a full day each week is allocated to preventative work –Briggs is keeping the machines dust free and improving uptime. This, in turn, has a positive impact both on the day-to-day and long-term running of the plant and is set to boost productivity.

Technology improves fleet management

Technology has an increasingly important part to play in equipment fleet management and when Envirowales switched to Yale in 2012, the lift trucks were fitted with an IP67-rated telemetry system developed by Briggs Equipment. Sealed to protect it from both dust and water ingress, the system was proven to reduce costs attributable to poor driving standards by at least 30%.

The new trucks have been fitted with the latest Yale Vision technology to optimise productivity and help Envirowales protect its assets. Briggs has also introduced its asset management tool, BE Portal, to promote total fleet transparency.

Nathan Hancock, Key Accounts Manager at Briggs Equipment, said,“By working closely with Envirowales to really understand its business and the challenging nature of the recycling environment, we’ve been able to develop a materials handling solution that supports the company’s own efforts to grow its business by reducing operational costs and improving productivity.

“Technology will continue to support improved fleet performance and has already helped to encourage operators to be more safety conscious. Importantly, the data available via BE Portal will help to improve contract management and overall communication between our two businesses while simultaneously empowering Envirowales to take decisive action to reduce damage and improve safety for its 100-strong workforce.”

For further information on the range of materials handling equipment from Yale visit For more information about Briggs Equipment visit To find out more about Envirowales visit