Canopy protects against the elements Flexi lift trucks and Dexion racking help increase storage space by a third

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Thornton & Ross, the pharmaceuticals manufacturer based at Linthwaite Laboratories near Huddersfield, has seen storage at its warehouse increase by a third through the delivery of three Narrow Aisle Flexi lift trucks and the installation of new Dexion racking.

The manufacturer produces an extensive range of medicinal products, disinfectants and household goods for customers ranging from private, independent chemists to multiple groups and multinational grocery retailers. Products are collected from the production lines and stored in Thornton’s finished goods warehouse and distribution centre ready for transfer to the packaging lines.

An immediate demand for increased space at the warehouse arose after Thornton’s bought several other manufacturers’ brands, such as Eucryl toothpaste, in April 2002. Back then, Thornton’s operated a double-deep system with the 3m wide aisles served by pantograph and counterbalance trucks. Warehouse managers realised the system would not enable them to create the extra pallet capacity needed to cope with the expansion.

Thornton’s order preparation manager, Rob Henderson, explains: “We considered a number of solutions including dedicated VNA [very narrow aisle]trucks but knew they would not give us the flexibility of outside operation. Our racking supplier, Dexion, suggested reducing the aisle widths to 2m serviced by an articulated fleet. We set up a test VNA situation in the warehouse and for a month we trialled three trucks – the Flexi, another articulated design, and a hybrid vehicle.”

Henderson says the Flexi “fared very well”. Three were installed in mid-2003 and combined with the new Dexion racking Thornton’s has raised pallet capacity by more than 1,500 to 4,500 about a third more storage space. 

Henderson adds: “The only other alternative was to increase the height of the warehouse but the cost would have been astronomical. By changing the racking and installing the Flexis we have been able to achieve our aim for a fraction of the cost.”

Narrow Aisle is one of several material handling companies exhibiting at both Logistics Link 2004, being held on February 3 and 4 at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, and Logistics Link North, at Doncaster Racecourse on September 22 and 23. For further information contact Richard Milbourn on 020 8661 1160.or visit n Schlumberger WCP, which supplies cable protection for the oil and gas industry, is using a retractable CopriSystems canopy to give convenient on-site storage. The canopy measures 9m wide and 19m long.

All-cast alloy steel protectors are packed in wooden crates which can be stored for up to six months. Without environmental protection, the wooden crates become saturated and unusable – over a lengthy time span, the protectors can begin to corrode too.

Graeme Strachan, Schlumberger’s production services supervisor, comments: “We had been paying for off-site storage, renting warehouses, which were costly and inconvenient. Storage volume varies throughout the year, so we were either lacking in space or paying for what we didn’t need.

The CopriSystems canopy had to be robust enough to handle the varying, and at times, adverse weather conditions we experience in this area. It is ideal for our purposes – it can be retracted when not in use and provides a protected storage facility on our own site.”

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