Wednesday 26th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Bespoke reach trucks boost productivity for carpet distributor


Alliance Flooring Distribution has boosted the storage capacity and increased throughput at its main warehouse in Kidderminster since taking on a bespoke fleet of Atlet trucks. Eight out of the fleet are UHS reach trucks, which feature special booms to handle four and five-metre carpet rolls weighing almost half a tonne to heights up to ten metres.

Alliance provides carpet storage and distribution services for parent company Abingdon Carpets and other local independent and overseas producers. The company had been unhappy with its previous fleet of reconditioned trucks, which it said became unreliable once the workload increased following a move to 24/6 operations. There had also been issues with servicing and Alliance wanted to make sure its replacements would perform to specification.

Atlet initially suggested a week-long loan of a reach truck, temporarily equipped with a carpet boom, so that the warehouse staff could get a feel for whether it would be suitable. Feedback from the drivers led to new adjustments such as fitting holsters for hand-held barcode scanners and clipboards at convenient positions in the cab.

Alliance specified a tilting carriage rather than a tilting mast – the former being better suited to control and position loads in this application.

The trucks feature S3 Stability Support System, which provides truck stability by governing speed and acceleration in conjunction with steering sensitivity. S3 automatically reduces the speed of truck functions in proportion to the height lifted, overrides unsafe manoeuvres and reduces jerkiness in the manipulation of the controls.

Ergonomic features include mini steering wheels, tilting seats and push-button controls because these help prevent unnecessary twisting when driving.

Alliance also chose three Nissan electric counterbalance trucks for loading and unloading vehicles. These also have boom carriages but have shorter masts than the reach trucks, which enables them to work in the loading bay and inside the vehicle bodies and containers used for shipping carpets to customers.

Once a carpet roll is retrieved form storage, it is cut and wrapped before being taken by the reach trucks, to the appropriate order assembly area. Assembled orders are loaded onto transport vehicles using the counterbalance trucks. The majority of distribution stock is in the warehouse for just two or three days.

Atlet also supplied an OPM man rising order picker so that items can be picked from any location to increase flexibility and make the most of the space.

Batteries are changed in rotation for balanced use using Atlet’s Space Track system.

Atlet maintains the fleet and promises a four-hour call-out as part of the overall contract. Nigel Wilkes, Alliance warehouse manager, says: “One of the problems we had with the previous supplier was that the salesman didn’t stay in touch after the original sale until the lease was nearly finished. With Atlet however we have regular contact and we know they really care about what we want. The service has been excellent.”