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Fuel Cell-Powered Electric Lift Trucks at UNFI Distribution Center

FLORIDA (August 18, 2010)—In an advance for hydrogen fuel cell technology, Abel Womack Inc has retrofitted 36 pallet jacks and supplied 29 new materials handling units to United Natural Foods Inc’s (UNFI) distribution center in Sarasota.

The August 4 ribbon-cutting event included facility tours and demonstrations of GenDrive fuel cell technology from Plug Power Inc in UNFI’s fleet of electric lift trucks from Raymond Corp. Raymond dealership Abel Womack undertook the retrofit program at the 352,000 sqft (31,680 sqm) UNFI site.

UNFI will not reveal financial investment numbers but says: "We are happy to share that the [return on investment] is less than three years". The new Raymond equipment includes seven model 8400 walkie riders, eight model 7400 Reach-fork trucks, six model 5500 order picker trucks and eight model 4200 standup counterbalance trucks. UNFI anticipates the use of fuel cells will be a key component in enhancing sustainability goals along with eliminating time for battery charging, changing and maintenance.

Raymond says UNFI is the first organisation to utilise Raymond’s new fuel cell-compatible order picker, which features a 21-inch (.53 m) battery box to accommodate the fuel cell.

Abel Womack is a major northeast distributor of Raymond materials handling equipment and services through facilities in Lawrence, Massachusetts; Wallingford, Connecticut; and Farmingdale, New York.

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