Two electric Bendi forklifts leased from Translift have helped improve product flows for Norfolk-based confectioner Kinnerton so much that truck payback is estimated at just over two years, says Kinnerton’s resources manager, Micheal Anderson.
Based at Fakenham, Kinnerton also has a satellite production/warehouse unit five miles away at South Creek, where the Bendis work, which previously relied on two, man-down, very narrow aisle tucks for work within aisles only 1.62m wide. They were proving costly to maintain, however, and relied on other trucks to interface with them, like powered, pedestrian pallet trucks. Manpower, therefore, was not best employed, which was stressed when the company introduced hand-held RDTs to improve warehouse efficiency. That meant the production department was neither receiving, nor despatching materials/finished goods fast enough to cope with growing demand for its chocolates and novelty products, sold largely through leading food retailers like Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer.
Under the old handling regime, the VNA truck drivers had to scan the pallet with their RDTs then place the load at the aisle ends instead of where they were ultimately needed. This meant a pedestrian pallet truck or counterbalanced truck driver had to scan the pallet load a second time before it could be loaded aboard a lorry. The two Bendis, however, need only make only one scan because they so not need to interface with other trucks.
Quite apart from the slowness of such an operation, it was cheaper to lease two new Bendis rather than continue to rely on old, or new, man-down, VNA trucks. The previous handling arrangements also meant that Kinnerton needed two or three persons to load a lorry but now it can be done just with one driver.
Before choosing the two Bendis, however, Anderson considered alternative handling options, including a reach truck scenario, but that would have meant the loss of 200 pallet positions, or 10% of the warehouse stock locations, and the cost of rearranging the existing racking. The Bendis also had to work in aisles only 1.62m wide.
Equipped with side shift, the two Bendis work a three-shift day, five days a week, and can lift 1,300kg to 6m, but nearly all Kinnertons loads are between 0.25 tonne and 0.5 tonne because of the large volumes of air contained within their products, like Easter eggs. This means, however, that Kinnerton can exploit double decker, 40ft lorries which now account for about half of all lorry movements at the South Creek site.
Although not currently used for lorry loading, there are plans to use the Bendis for that once a hard pad area outside the warehouse has been improved. Meanwhile they are an insurance policy as a back up should the only counterbalanced truck be out for lorry loading.
A further improvement to warehouse efficiency was the introduction of push back racking, three pallet loads deep, to complement the APR racking. Push back racking allows much greater storage density but would not be suitable where instant, 100% product accessibility is essential. This racking, the RDTs and the two Bendis all complement each other to achieve the benefits desired, which are best use of limited space, faster product flows between storage and production, and the avoidance of having to take on more staff and trucks to cope with growing demand.