Reliability and uptime imperative

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Multiple chain Rippleglen’s central distribution centre and group headquarters in Birmingham supplies its 180-plus branches, retailing in confectionery, greeting cards and newspapers. Wanting a reliable, unbiased and cost-effective solution for storage and materials handling in the 2,418sq m warehouse, chairman Harry Medcalf called on Abex for advice.

The company’s brief was to make the most efficient use of storage space available which would allow Rippleglen to buy in large quantities at a time and make use of special offers, while enabling fast loading of pallets onto its delivery fleet to ensure continuous delivery schedules to the stores.

Abex recommended using a Tecna four-wheel counterbalance truck and two Bendi articulated forklifts. With their ability to work in very narrow aisles, the Bendis serve the high density racking containing 1,200 pallet bays in 6.5m high racking without all the complications of a conventional VNA system. The Spanish-produced Tecna – it is relatively new in the UK – is said to be ideal for loading and unloading, with its reliability and long running times.

Also, the trucks can deputise for each other if necessary, giving Rippleglen all-round reliability if required.

Rippleglen’s warehouse manager, Dave Punsheon, who has had to cope with almost a four-fold increase in volume, says: “We have been able to narrow down aisles to 2m, the trucks are on the go non-stop, the drivers are very happy with the choice of forklifts – all in all the system is very effective.”n Fresenius Medical Care, which manufactures products to treat renal disease, has been supplied with a fleet of Hyster materials handling equipment from Barloworld at its Warehousing and Distribution operation at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

The facility, which opened in May 2003, provides a wide range of dialysis products to hospitals and direct to patients’ homes. This means that reliability and uptime is imperative. The Hyster equipment supplied comprises Matrix reach trucks and low-level order pickers as well as both pedestrian and ride-on powered pallet trucks.

The Sutton-in-Ashfield distribution centre has capacity for 13,000 pallets in a wide aisle operation. With many of the products having a finite expiry, the racking is in zones controlled via the company’s SAP system. Up to 250 pallets daily pass through the warehouse.

The pallets are offloaded from lorries using Hyster P2.0S ride-on powered pallet trucks and taken to the floor picking area, from where they are then stacked in the relevant aisle using the reach truck. Picking orders is undertaken using the L2.0 low-level order picker with picked items being taken to a controlled bay area ready for despatch.

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