The articulated truck concept has enjoyed some success in recent years. The ability to eliminate the need to operate a two truck system – with a counterbalanced machine working outside and feeding a reach truck inside the store or warehouse – has won converts among 3PLs, retailers and manufacturers.
Narrow Aisle’s sales and marketing director John Maguire reckons financial savings of up to 50 per cent are possible.
He points out that articulated trucks also offer space saving advantages. For instance, Narrow Aisle’s G4 is capable of working in aisles as narrow as 1642mm wide at sites where Euro pallets are stored or 1762mm wide at facilities which use standard UK pallets. The reduction in aisle widths means the Flexi can create up to 30 per cent more storage capacity in any warehouse in comparison to a conventional reach truck.
However, Maguire stresses that successful warehousing has to strike a balance between productivity and safety. The safety of order pickers working in the aisles at the same time as trucks is likely to become an increasingly central issue.
“Everyone – particularly retailers – wants less inventory in store so the amount of break-bulk and ground level picking of single items is growing fast. This means our customers must pick from more SKUs so they need more ground level locations for efficiency and, at the same time they do not want to invest in more expensive warehouse space.
“Because of its design, the Flexi is suited to working in narrower aisles alongside order picking staff without creating a health and safety issue, whereas traditional warehouse products such as guided VNA machines and man-up combis are not.
“In its elevated position a man-up Combi VNA truck might lift the operator 10 metres in the air, but if you have someone in the same aisle order picking at ground level there is always the risk of the combi operator not seeing the order picker or worker below.”