– By Caroline Falls –
Century Yuasa is the biggest supplier of vehicle batteries in Australia and handling such dangerous goods over vast distances requires a specialised fleet with an array of customised features.
David Blackburn, Group Accountant and Fleet Manager, said Century Yuasa has made some sweeping changes in its fleet and the design of its trucks and factory to meet its own environmental standards.
“What we’ve done is look at the whole fleet and the factory over the last 10 years to reduce our emissions and water usage and everything we could find to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Blackburn.
The iconic blue and yellow Century Yuasa batteries are sold through the group’s own Battery World retail chain, through Supercheap Auto, Repco, and mechanic workshops. They are made at the group’s manufacturing plant in Carole Park, about 20 kilometres north of Brisbane. The batteries made are for passenger and commercial vehicles, including trucks. They are also for pretty much any motorised vehicle, including forklifts, boats, lawn mowers and motor bikes. The group also has a solar battery storage unit branded Enersun.
To carry the batteries around Australia to distribution centres, Century Yuasa has a fleet of 29 Hino 300 Series hybrids light duty trucks and 14 Hino 500 Series medium trucks, including the latest iteration with a wide cab. It is moving to bring in diesel powered Hino 300 to replace the hybrids of the same capacity, finding later model diesel cleaner and more efficient for carrying the heavy weights their fleet is dedicated to.
“They’re not giving us as much economy as the diesel,” Blackburn said of the hybrid vehicles. The efficiency of diesel to travel long distances also means vehicles only need filling every 1000 kilomtres or so.
Century Yuasa also has about 65 Toyota Camry vehicles and about five Toyota Lexus in its fleet, which are used by the sales team and senior management. In addition, the group lease forklifts from Toyota Fleet Management.
The trucks that carry batteries around have had cabin and cargo areas redesigned to eliminate risks of acid spills and to better manage health and safety risks. For example, racks of certain heights have been introduced to stop new and used batteries falling over en route to distribution centres and customers. Some 98 percent of the battery is able to be recycled and recycling programs have been introduced and upgraded. Capped drains have been built into the new fully-sealed cargo container to capture any acid leaches. Battery carrying trolleys and point-of-sale equipment is carried outside the battery containment area to eliminate contamination. Hand washing equipment is carried within the cabin and on the outside of the vehicle. First-aid kits, fire extinquishers, burns kits and eye-wash treatment kits are all up to date and have their own place inside the cabin, and in certain instances outside the cabin as well.
The privately owned company has been operating in Australia since the early 1900s. It is an affiliate of GS Yuasa Corp., one of the world’s biggest battery makers. Century Yuasa was last year named by the Queensland Chamber of Commerce as an ecoBiz Champion.
Blackburn said managing the fleet is very dynamic with each new vehicle generally containing something new. “Our drivers always give me feedback on what things they need in their vehicles and we try to accommodate that as best we can,” Blackburn said. “There’s always an improvement.”