Member Spotlight: The Raymond Corporation

At Raymond headquarters in Greene, New York, Steve Medwin, director of systems and advanced engineering (left), and Mike Field, CEO (right), stand out by the fork lift assembly line.

The Raymond Corporation, based in Greene, NY, is a global provider of materials handling technology, expertise and support. Raymond is an electric lift truck producer of various fork lift trucks including narrow aisle and very narrow aisle lift trucks, pallet trucks, orderpickers, and similar equipment. What sets Raymond apart from the competition is its emphasis on energy efficiency and green technology that brings both economic and ecological benefits to the company’s customers.

Raymond began producing lift trucks in 1922 and since then has invented and patented many technologies that have become industry standards. The company employs more than 1,700 people at its headquarters located in Greene where most of Raymond’s lift truck manufacturing occurs, turning steel plate materials into a completed lift truck that is ready to ship to a customer. Design, engineering and corporate management are also based in Greene.

In recent years, Raymond’s efforts have centered on the use of emerging electric vehicle technologies to improve materials handling performance by lowering energy consumption, increasing uptime, and offering new alternatives for powering their equipment. Raymond calls its overall approach “Eco-Performance,” which emphasizes efficiency, productivity and environmental responsibility.

Batteries play a critical part in the performance of Raymond’s electric trucks. There are more than 300,000 lead-acid batteries in use in Raymond lift trucks on any given day, translating into almost 300-million dollars of battery cost per year, excluding maintenance and charging costs.

Raymond’s ACR System, based on AC motors in its lift trucks, is designed to deliver significantly more uptime, lower maintenance costs and reduce energy consumption, which allows these lead-acid batteries to be changed less frequently. In terms of overall warehouse operations, battery reliability, charging cycles and maintenance procedures are critical to efficiency, profitability and uptime.

Raymond has addressed this important issue as part of its iWAREHOUSE® fleet and warehouse optimization system. Within that system, there is the iBattery™module, which gives both lift truck operators and management personnel real-time access to essential information on every battery in every truck. The module contains a suite of sensors that reports on such parameters as battery state of charge, water level, temperature, and a variety of potential system faults. The data from iBattery can then be used within the iWAREHOUSE system to generate reports and perform analysis on the truck fleet. Careful monitoring of lift truck batteries can lengthen its life, maintain optimum charge holding, maximize performance, and avoid costly downtime.

“Raymond is, and always has been, committed to developing new innovations that enhance the material handling industry and create value for our customers,” says Mike Field, president of operations and engineering at the Raymond Corporation. “In fact, our innovations not only play a key role in our competitive edge, they reflect our philosophy of continuous improvement and our ability to adapt to an ever-changing industry.”

Raymond has also been a leader in the application of hydrogen fuel cells in lift trucks. The company began a research program in 2007 with sponsorship from NYSERDA and from NYPA that studied the performance of fuel cells in lift trucks and the use of indoor hydrogen fueling stations in a real-world manufacturing environment. The advantages offered by fuel cell technology include gains in productivity because refueling with hydrogen is much quicker than changing out a battery. In addition, fuel cell voltages remain constant independent of fuel level in contrast with batteries that experience performance deficiencies when charge levels get low. Finally, fuel cell technology is a clean-burning technology (water and heat are the only byproducts) and it eliminates issues associated with the handling of lead-acid batteries.

Raymond became an independent distributor and service provider for fuel cells from Plug Power (another NY-BEST member company) in 2010. Fuel cell power became an available option for Raymond’s customers.  Generally speaking, the prime customers for fuel cell material handling equipment are those with larger fleets, high productivity or throughput requirements, multiple shifts, high energy costs, and good access to hydrogen. For such customers, the benefits are increased productivity, reduced electrical usage, simpler plant infrastructure, and enhanced environmental responsibility.

The Raymond Corporation has been around for more than 90 years in an industry that is well established and not usually thought of as cutting-edge.  In reality, all along it has maintained a tradition of pioneering the way for many new innovations in electric forklift trucks and is using state-of-the-art electric vehicle technology to make its products more energy efficient and productive, and to remain a leader in its industry.

For more information on the Raymond Corporation and its products, see the company website.