AMAB is providing specialised services with 800 employees at 3 separate locations in the area of Brussels (Asse, Halle and Zaventem). AMAB offers a variety of services and one-stop-shop total solutions, on their own premises or at their customers’ sites. They are specialised in packaging: co-packing, repacking, electro assembling, etc. Their site in Asse has an additional unique feature: “a state-of-the-art dishwasher, acquired to thoroughly wash reusable cups for governments, events, etc,” explains Cathy Vertongen (manager purchasing and customer service).
Every day, the employees at AMAB are committed to service their customers as well as possible. “Our workers are people with a physical or mental disability. Together with the occupational therapist we decide which role they can fulfil despite their disability. We try to regularly switch their tasks to bring variety in their job,” says Rudi Crombé, manager of the technical department in Zaventem, where the introduction to lithium-ion has just been completed.
“Before this purchase, most of the machines at our 3 sites were already Toyota trucks, which we always have been satisfied with. That’s why it was a logical step for us to also buy our next trucks from Toyota,” says Rudi. He also immediately expresses that AMAB appreciates the fact that a Toyota representative always comes on site to introduce new machines and give a clear explanation. “In 2015 we merged with our other branches. We used this opportunity to establish an inventory and ask 3 potential candidates for a service contract.
Toyota eventually came up with the best offer. The majority of our fleet consists of Toyota trucks, which makes it easier for the technician. This way we only have to call in one technician, which requires less kilometres, and less impact on the environment,” says Rudi. Preventive maintenance and repairs are therefore also planned more efficiently this way, keeping transportation to a minimum. The 3 P’s of People, Profit and Planet are important themes for AMAB.
Since a few months AMAB has several lithium-ion-powered pallet trucks and stackers in operation at their site. After much deliberation, they decided not to go for traditional lead-acid batteries, but for lithium-ion instead. When we ask Rudi why they chose lithium-ion, the answer is clear: “It’s easy to maintain, easy to use, and the initial cost offers an ROI on the long term because of the lowered energy consumption and longer battery life. After all, battery change takes up a big part of our maintenance budget. While lead-acid requires supervision, check-ups and a separate charging area, this is not the case for lithium-ion. It’s very easy to use, which makes it ideal.”
Also the implementation went well: “Our employees often prioritise habit and routine. So for them, the implementation required some adjustment. Before, they had to drive the lead-acid trucks until the battery was empty before charging them. We noticed they often waited to charge the lithium-ion trucks as well because the battery was not empty yet. But now they are used to it and it has become a routine. When the workers end their shift, they automatically charge them. The batteries are never empty again! Before, a truck would stand still here and there, leaving them to work with one machine less. Our available space is restricted, which is why trucks standing still are not an option. Now we can use all trucks efficiently and we don’t lose any parking space.” “We don’t work in shifts here, because most of our employees depend on public transport. This is why it’s important for us to use the trucks in the most efficient way,” says Cynthia Lannoye, manager logistics.
Also in terms of service, AMAB is very happy with Toyota. “One of our employees has a physical disability, which makes it difficult to drive a regular pallet truck. Toyota therefore offered us a customised machine within 3 days to rent and test. Everything had to go really fast because we needed a tender for the executive board, which we even received the same day. We were very happy with this quick service,” Cynthia says. “The pallet truck is equipped with fixed side bars and a special warning system, which stops the truck immediately when the operator is too far from the steering arm. Because of this, the driver required some time for adjusting, but now it looks like he has been driving that pallet trucks for many years already. It’s a joy to see him so happy!” Cynthia confirms.
She continues: “Every year, we go over the condition of the material handling equipment together with Toyota’s service manager Luc Troch, to evaluate which machines need to be replaced. Not only the age of the truck plays a role, but definitely the amount working hours, current condition and previous service costs. Thanks to the high standard of the truck fleet we can reuse a battery or part that has not been worn to fix a machine.”
What the future brings for AMAB is very clear according to Rudi: “We would like to expand our lithium-ion fleet. Despite the limited number of trucks at our site, we already notice the difference. We would also like to continue this cooperation.”