It has only taken 25 years but Blackburn-based Dutton Carpets has solved the problems that carpet manufacturing – dust and fibre constantly swirl in the air – causes forklift trucks. The company has introduced a fleet of 15 gas-powered Tri-Cat engine trucks from Nissan.
Duttons produces 5.5 million-plus square metres of carpet a year for more than 100 customers in the UK and abroad. In the 25 years since it was created, Duttons has used every form of motive power for its materials handling operations in a bid to overcome the problems of overheating and subsequent downtime.
The company relies on its forklifts at practically every stage of its process, from goods inwards through production and onto storage and distribution. Jason Randles, warehouse and distribution manager at Duttons, explains: “We can have as little as 24 hours to turn an order around, from delivery of the yarn to production of a finished carpet. That alone highlights the need for efficient materials handling.”
Customers supply their own, ready-dyed yarn to Duttons in one-tonne pallet loads which arrive at the rate of 100 a day. The challenge for the forklifts is the production process as they must operate equally effectively inside and out, taking the palletised cones of yarn into the production area and directly through to the 14 tufting machines. Each tufting machine can produce 120sq m of carpet per hour and, as feeding the yarn from the cones into the machines can be time consuming, the trucks have to wait in an area where the air is filled with dust and fibres.
Once tufted onto polypropylene net, the carpet is transferred by the Nissan trucks to backing lines for cropping, if required to provide an even finer finish, and cutting to length.
The new 15 trucks, ranging from 1.5 to three tonne lift capacity, are D-Series gas-powered models featuring Nissan’s Tri-Cat System. They also feature filters over their radiators, eliminating the overheating problems.