Friday 28th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Fast payback on investment

Two new Wave work assist vehicles from Crown have brought about safer, more productive order picking routines for staff at the Warrington warehouse complex of Weldspares-OKI, the welding equipment and tools supplier. An affiliate of the OKI-Bering group, an independent wholesaler of welding, safety and related industrial products, Weldspares previously relied on the use of mobile steps to access the products at heights in excess of 2m.

“While we tried not to store fast-moving goods above heights that a person could easily reach,” says managing director Mark Underwood, “because of our over-expanding product offering it increasingly became impossible not to store goods at higher levels. Nevertheless, moving steps around the place is not the most efficient way of operating a warehouse, nor is carrying goods up and down ladders a smart way to operate. If anything, it is an accident waiting to happen.”

A visit to the local B&Q outlet, where he first saw a Wave machine in action, led him to contact Crown for an on-site trial. “I had not seen anything like the wave before,” exclaims Underwood, “and it’s so simple to operate. In fact, anybody can drive it with ease after a little training. By far the biggest benefit is its ability to allow operators to safely and effortlessly pick goods at heights up to almost 4m – thus allowing us to effectively double the picking faces within our warehouse utilizing exactly the same floor space as before. Its speed of operation also allows picking and stock put-away functions to be carried out much quicker then previously using a sack truck.”

Operating at ground level, the Wave – with turning radius of just 1,205mm – can travel at a top aped of 6.5km/hr. In the raised position travel speed id reduced to 3.2km/hr. For added workplace safety, the Wave features an automatic cut-out device which prevents operation over a height of 0.5m should the safety gates not be fully closed. Likewise, the multi-purpose vehicle will not operate in travel mode without the operator having both feet on the pedals and both hands on the steering handles.

Operating mainly within Weldspares’ seven-aisle racked storage complex, the two Wave machines are responsible for the picking and despatch of some 200 consignments a day, for direct delivery next-day to distributors and resellers nationwide and throughout Ireland.

With a portfolio encompassing more than 12,000 individual product lines, Weldspares also uses the Wave machines for collating overseas orders – principally from France, Germany and the Netherlands – and for the put-away of incoming stock direct from its global suppliers.

“Since purchasing the Wave machines, we’re now looking to increase the number of picking faces across the entire warehouse, thereby allowing us to further expand on the number of products we offer our customer base,” says Underewood. “The investment,” he continues, “has almost been self-financing as we would have had to employ additional staff to pick, albeit less efficiently.