BAE Systems streamlines goods-in for Eurofighter

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BAE Systems has reduced the number of trucks in its goods-in area after taking delivery of a Combilift Combi-CB forklift.

Samlesbury Aerodrome near Preston provides BAE Systems with manufacturing and support capabilities to major aircraft programmes including the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F35-Lightning II, which is claimed to be the world’s most advanced combat aircraft.

Its logistics operation is crucial for the smooth running of the overall process. BAE has a long standing relationship with Carrylift Materials Handling, which supplies BAE Systems with a broad range of handling equipment across the 351-acre site and provides an on-site dedicated maintenance engineer to provide a personal and rapid response to service issues, minimising downtime.   

Inventory manager Mick Woods wanted to rationalise the forklifts in his section, as he didn’t think the one sideloader and four counterbalance trucks were not being put to effective use.

He says: “Each machine was only working for a very small percentage of the time, mainly handling one specific product. I was convinced that there were considerable advantages to be had if we could find one truck versatile enough to cope with the varied loads we transport around the facility.”

BAE Systems needed an all electric fleet, and a truck that was both safe and able to manoeuvre in limited space in certain areas.

The three-tonne capacity AC battery powered Combi-CB was chosen.

The fleet has already been cut to three forklifts due to the truck’s ability to operate indoors and out, to offload incoming deliveries and reload vehicles for dispatch and to work as a sideloader to manoeuvre 6m lengths of timber along a narrow corridor. 

As part of cost saving initiatives at BAE Systems a reduced fleet was a priority and Woods reckons further savings will be made in the future.

He says: “The up front investment in the Combilift will quickly achieve payback as we will be able to do away with more counterbalance trucks.

“Using just the one type of forklift significantly reduces outlay on maintenance and training and the CB’s stability protects very valuable loads from damage. We have also freed up extra storage space that was previously needed to store the old trucks in what is a relatively tight area.”

The CB was fitted with 1,200mm long forks to facilitate the handling of the packs of timber. As the weight of all loads needs to be stated for onward delivery, fork mounted weighing scales were also incorporated.

Hydraulic fork positioners have also helped to speed up the handling of the different sized loads such standard pallets and longer, more cumbersome CIC containers which hold aircraft canopies.

The drivers can operate this function from within the cab, avoiding the need to get on and off the truck to manually adjust the forks, which contributes to safer working practices.

In addition to the Combi-CB, Carrylift also provided BAE Systems with a complete operator training system, provided on site at Samlesbury Aerodrome for convenience and tailored to meet the company’s specific needs and safety standards. 

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