Founded in 1982, the family-owned Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Ltd. (Santa Rosa, Calif.) produces more than four million cases of wine each year. Its Monterey, Calif., operation houses a boutique wine-tasting facility and the company’s primary production facility.

Jeff Eikenberry, the company’s general manager who supervises Kendall-Jackson’s production facilities and vineyards in Monterey County, sought the support of a fleet supplier that could cover every aspect of material handling within the winery and help Kendall-Jackson accomplish its productivity goals.

Eikenberry spent five months testing lift trucks from seven different manufacturers. His drivers rated each one and noted what they liked and disliked about each model. Eikenberry says the drivers’ feedback was essential to the final selection, since they would use the lift trucks on a daily basis.

After reviewing the alternatives, Kendall-Jackson made the decision to convert to Toyota electric lift trucks supplied by Toyota Material Handling Northern California (Hayward, Calif.). Electric lift trucks were selected for their environmentally friendly benefits including no emissions and decreased noise pollution in the winery.

Kendall-Jackson lift truck drivers handle wine barrels with 74-in. forks on uneven surfaces. Knocking over a barrel containing 40 gallons of wine is a serious product loss for the company. One of the reasons why Kendall-Jackson chose the Toyota trucks was their onboard “system of active stability” (SAS). SAS is a mass-control feature that provides safer, easier load handling. The system senses factors that lead to lateral instability and potential overturn and reacts before operators sense danger. To reduce the risk of tip-over, SAS engages the swing lock cylinder to stabilize the rear axle.

Kendall-Jackson managers can program and customize each lift truck to meet specific operational and safety requirements. To handle barrels at high elevations in reverse, for example, they can change the acceleration rate setting to help prevent dropped barrels.

MHMonline.com welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Lisa Kempfer (lkempfer@mhmonline.com), MHM managing editor. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.