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Taylor launches electric top handler

The new Taylor Battery Electric ZLC Series container handlers give terminal operators in San Pedro harbour an option to meet the goal of zero emissions equipment in terminals without changing their operation.

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The new Taylor ZLC 976 Zero Emissions top handler
The new Taylor ZLC 976 Zero Emissions top handler

Taylor Machine Works, Inc. and the Port of Los Angeles have unveiled the Taylor ZLC series battery electric top handler. The first two “pre-commercial top handlers” were showcased at an event to mark California Clean Air Day attended by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.


“Today shows we are making good on our pledge to do the hard work of advancing commercially feasible solutions to meet our goal of transitioning all cargo-handling equipment to zero emissions by 2030,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “We’re excited to power up these battery-electric top handlers and test them under the real-world conditions of a working container terminal.”


A zero emissions “top pick” is very important to US west coast terminal operators. While LBCT at the Port of Long Beach features the cleanest terminal in the US, with electric RMGs in the yard and battery AGVs, the standard west coast operating model is a mix of RTGs and top handlers. There were no less than 213 top handlers in the Port of Los Angeles in 2018.

The ZLC976 features a battery system from BYD that can re-charge in five hours.
The ZLC976 features a battery system from BYD that can re-charge in five hours.

The new Taylor ZLC976 machines will undergo 12 moths of testing at the Everport terminal in Los Angeles. They have a lifting capacity of 75,000 pounds and are powered by a one-megawatt battery from China’s BYD, designed to operate for up to 18 hours between charges. The charging time is five hours.


An 18-hour duty cycle supports two continuous shifts in a US west coast terminal operation, allowing terminal operators to transition to zero emissions equipment without major operational changes.


“Utilizing state-of-the-art electric motors and environmentally responsible battery chemistry, the ZLC Series is a plug-in, battery electric vehicle equipped with the energy necessary for a smooth transition from existing internal combustion powered equipment. With the ability to recharge in five hours and an onboard battery capacity to complete two full work shifts with no opportunity charging required, the ZLC Series is easily incorporated into day-to-day terminal work cycles with no compromises in energy available for container stacking and transportation. In addition, Taylor’s ZLC Series is equipped with the same dependable axles, transmissions and hydraulics that are found on our widely deployed XLC Container Handler,” Taylor stated.

An electric motor drives a conventional transmission.
An electric motor drives a conventional transmission.

The Port of Los Angeles has had a rough ride with zero emissions road trucks and terminal tractors, with some of the companies it supported for grant funding proving unable to deliver a machine that met the duty cycle of port operations in the end. Dr. Joesph Lyou, President and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air, welcomed Taylor as an industry OEM that can raise the bar in this respect.


“Everyone tells me Taylor equipment works,” Dr. Lyou stressed. “So this isn’t some fly by night company building this stuff. These are the guys who know how to build things, know how to make them work . So we have confidence.” He acknowledged that, as with any big leap such as an all electric top handler, there will be things that go wrong. “But they’re [Taylor] going to be able to fix it, and the next version’s going to be even better, it’s going to be less expensive because the battery is going to get less expensive, and we’re going to be able to take it on,” he added.


“The ZLC presents us with not only the opportunity to venture into the field of all-electric equipment, but it is a direct representation of Taylor’s innovative progression within the material handling industry. Taylor customers who engage in port operations expect container handlers to withstand the harshest duty cycles. They would expect nothing less from the electrics. We are excited to continue those high standards with the Battery Electric ZLC Series Container handlers,” commented Hal Nowell, Director of Sales for Taylor Machine Works, Inc.


Robert Taylor Sr., President and Chief Operating Officer of The Taylor Group of Companies, concluded: “The ZLC Series is a milestone project in Taylor manufacturing history. This commitment to the electric market for container handling equipment is truly a marvel of engineering collaboration between BYD and Taylor. True Taylor tradition is designing, engineering and manufacturing real world products that work every day. I am so proud of our teams for making the dream come true.”


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