When you run the numbers, human-powered machines often make good sense on city streets. Leave it to the logistics experts at Daimler Trucks North America to calculate that they make good sense on the floor of a truck factory, too.
At Daimler’s Western Star truck plant on North Portland’s Swan Island, utility trikes are taking over for electric carts in moving truck parts to the manufacturing line. Workers at the plant are putting 18 of the trikes to use. They are Torker HD models and have a cargo capacity of 300 pounds. The bikes were purchased from and assembled by Crank Bicycles in southeast Portland, which customized the gears for the plant’s 5 mph speed limit.
“The bikes have become the latest in cost efficiency and green measures state-of-the-art manufacturing plants are taking,” Daimler’s internal newsletter wrote last month. “The bikes have the potential to save hundreds of dollars a month in maintenance, capital and energy costs and offer a greener alternative to the typical ‘ding ding’ electric carts the plant has been using for years. In addition, they also promote health and fitness by enabling plant employees to burn up to 300 calories an hour when using the bikes.”
Sounds familiar. The decision came from Plant Manager Paul Erdy, who decided to order a trike as an experiment for the local company, which employs about 3,000 office workers and laborers on Swan Island.
“When we first started using the bike it made everyone in the plant smile,” Erdy wrote for the newsletter. “It added a light-hearted element to our work environment while also proving to be a cost-effective alternative to the ‘ding ding’ carts.”
That sounds familiar, too. Good thinking, Daimler.