Henkel began operating in the UK in 1970 and its Consumer Adhesives business here has a turnover of £100M. When you are running an operation of that size, it is inevitable that your business will need a little reconfiguring from time to time – and so it was with the Consumer Adhesives business unit’s manufacturing site at Winsford late last year. Following congestion problems in its manufacturing building, Henkel converted three existing buildings – one used for production, one a raw materials warehouse and the third a finished goods warehouse – into three distinct new manufacturing centres, each with its own dedicated raw materials store, with a brand new building elsewhere on the site being turned into a new finished goods distribution centre (DC).
Michael Carney, distribution warehouse manager for Henkel’s Consumer Adhesives business unit, explains: “We’d just reached the capacity of the site the way things were in terms of inventory levels and we were at the point where we were having to put a lot of stock into additional external facilities. So we decided to lease the new distribution centre and have now moved all the finished goods from our old warehouse into here, as well as all the stock previously held externally.”
The new 10,140sq m DC went live at the end of 2004 and handles about 1,000 pallets daily, shipping around 8.5 million cases a year to retailers of all sizes around the world. Racked with eight-high standard adjustable pallet racking that almost reaches the 14m high roof, the new DC is served by 19 Jungheinrich lift trucks including reach trucks, counterbalancedunits, low-level order pickers and pedestrian powered pallet trucks.
The nine reach trucks comprise four ETM 214s and five new high-lift ETV 325s which are used to move full pallets in and out of the racking. The high-lift ETV reach trucks allow Henkel to lift 800kg pallets right up to the top level of the racking despite its frighteningly high beam height of 12.1m. All five ETV 325s feature cameras and colour monitors built into the dashboard to make load placement at such heights quicker and safer.
“The cameras were supplied at Jungheinrich’s suggestion,” says Carney. “Where retailers require less than full pallets of individual products the DC also uses six ECE 220 stand-on low-level order pickers. “I’d say probably only 40% of what we pick is full pallets, so our order pickers are used all the time,” says Carney. “These units pre-date the new DC but in our old warehouse, the forks on the order pickers were just the length of a single pallet, thanks to a need to turn sharply when coming out of the aisles. Now we have moved here, we’ve a lot more room to play with so we’ve had these trucks modified and extended the forks to allow for two pallets to be carried at once. It wasn’t too expensive to modify them and it obviously gives us much greater flexibility.”
Vehicle loading is taken care of by the DC’s two 3.0-tonne EFG 430 electric counterbalanced trucks and two stand-on ERE 220 powered pallet trucks. The counterbalanced units both feature double pallet handling attachments and are used to load curtainsiders and containers while the pallet trucks – which have a fully enclosed ride-on area for operator protection _ are reserved for loading/unloading trailers from the rear via six dedicated loading bays.
The DC’s adjustable pallet racking was also supplied by Jungheinrich and can accommodate 13,000 pallet locations in its current wide aisle configuration. “We looked at narrow aisle configuration but in the end we only wanted 13,000 pallet locations – enough to accommodate all the stock we wanted to put in and allow us spare capacity for future growth,” explains Carney. “In particular, sufficient space has been kept for an additional bay of very narrow aisle (VNA) racking to be put in at some point in the future, which would raise the total number of pallet locations to 17,000.” Although the existing racking is fairly standard, the installation did come with one special requirement – to ‘cage off’ an area in which flammable aerosols are kept in case of fire. As a result, one bay of racking near an outer wall has been fitted with steel mesh all the way down one side, with further caging across the aisle itself at the point at which aerosol storage begins. The two reasons the racking was sourced from Jungheinrich, says Carney, were cost and convenience.
In the three newly reconfigured manufacturing centres, Jungheinrich lift trucks are at the heart of Henkel’s materials handling strategy:
l In Manufacturing Centre 1, where adhesives blending and packaging takes place, Henkel’s reconfiguration has led to a 1,400sq m area of two-high racking being installed that will house 1,800 pallets when finished. This building is served by two EJC 12 pedestrian pallet stackers, which are used for putting away incoming raw materials and subsequently moving them to the production lines, five counterbalanced trucks (EFG DF13s, EFG DF16s and EFG VAC 16s) used for vehicle loading and unloading and to dispense heavier drums and bags of chemicals within the production area, and six general-purpose pedestrian pallet trucks (including EJE 16s, EJE 116s and an EJE 30). The building also uses two Jungheinrich ESE 20 ride-on pedestrian pallet trucks which operate within the warehouse feeding the three different manufacturing levels via goods lifts.
l The second Manufacturing Centre – a general packaging and bottle filling area – is served by two Jungheinrich counterbalanced trucks (EFG VAC 16 and EFG DF16) and two ETM 214 reach trucks, the former for vehicle loading/unloading and the latter to operate within the 7.2m high racking – mostly standard adjustable pallet racking but with around 600 locations of drive-in racking incorporated within the total 2,800 pallet positions.
l Manufacturing Centre 3 – another blending area with some further packaging operations – features a 2,200-location racked storage area, again 7.2m high, and a small (820 locations) carton live storage area, the latter supplied and installed by Jungheinrich. This manufacturing building is supported by a further two ETM 214 reach trucks, two EFG DF16 counterbalanced trucks and two ‘pot handlers’ – specially-modified EKB 30 ride-on pedestrian stackers which are used to handle Henkel’s huge blending pots that can hold 1,000 litres and weigh well over three tonnes apiece when filled. Also on general duty here are four T30 and ELE 16 pedestrian pallet trucks.
Henkel’s entire Jungheinrich fleet – 45-plus trucks – has been supplied on a five-year contract hire basis. The ability to update the trucks easily after the hire period has run its course is another good reason for contract hire, says engineering manager Neil Lloyd.
Jungheinrich also looks after some of Henkel’s older trucks from other suppliers on a maintenance agreement. Henkel has gradually rationalised its truck fleet based on working through exact truck use with Jungheinrich, says Drohan. “We don’t have any spare trucks or batteries. We used to hire extra trucks and batteries on occasion, but it’s a rarity now. We’ve really got the balance where it should be.”