Articulate solution to warehouse space

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Need more warehouse space? Rather than looking for another warehouse, it might be worth looking at making better use of the existing facilities.

Demand for warehouse space is rising rapidly with companies increasingly looking to stockpile inventory in the event of the UK crashing out of the European Union in March.

The challenge is exacerbated by the fact that there is a shortage on readily available warehouse space.

A recent study by Cushman & Wakefield highlighted the problem, and logistics partner Simon Lloyd warned: “While manufacturing take-up has reduced, it is anticipated that there will be renewed demand once the trade arrangements from a Brexit deal are known. The current demand for logistics buildings means that there is still a lack of choice for occupiers, resulting in continuing upwards pressure on rents and land values.”

Of course, one of the ways companies can solve the problem is to make more use of existing space by reconfiguring the warehouse to narrow aisle. Combining this with the use of articulated trucks can give a cost-effective and flexible solution.

John Maguire, commercial director at Narrow Aisle, says: “It has been well documented that warehousing facilities are in short supply. The lack of good quality warehousing space is driving demand for our products.

“There are a huge number of existing warehouse buildings across the country constructed and equipped over the last 25-30 years. Due to the enormous changes in the retail market and the economy in general, many of these sites are no longer fit for purpose.

“Often the original usage has changed completely and therefore the storage and material handling equipment installed is no longer efficient to say the least. This can present an opportunity to re-design and re-configure, using new intralogistics technology and handling techniques, to create a much more cost effective operation often with a very attractive pay back period.

“Flexi very narrow aisle (VNA) truck technology is able to optimise storage density while, at the same time, allowing individual pallet accessibility – which can become a problem with many other forklift-based high density pallet storage systems such as drive-in racks or powered-mobile rack bases.”

Martin McVicar, managing director of Combilift/Aisle Master, says: “The cost of new warehousing space has risen in the last six months in almost all areas of the UK, particularly in the southern and central areas. It is therefore a very attractive and sensible option for operations if they can expand warehouse space without the major cost and disruption of looking for new premises or paying extra for offsite storage. Extending current facilities also comes with the issues of obtaining planning permission and so in times of growth when more stock needs to be accommodated, reconfiguring racking to accord with the capabilities of the Aisle Master is a much more straightforward procedure. This can be done in just a few days compared to months of bureaucracy, and the benefits are immediate.”

Higher lift heights have been requested by customers to make the most of all vertical space says McVicar.  “Aisle Master offers lift heights of 15 m – the highest for any articulated truck. Also the ability to offer articulated trucks especially engineered to work in cold store applications has enabled cost effective use of space in these very harsh environments, which are also much more expensive to run per sq m compared to ambient storage. Aisle Master’s cold store spec range features a fully enclosed cab with heated polycarbonate windows to keep drivers warm (glass is not allowed anywhere in areas where food is stored). The large 930 Ah batteries more than counteract the draining effects of cold on the batteries for optimum performance and prolonged operation in temperatures as low as -30° C.

One major third party logistics provider that had embraced articulated truck technology is Eddie Stobart Logistics which recently took delivery of its 100th Aisle Master truck.

Eddie Stobart acquired its first Aisle Masters for its Contract Logistics and Warehousing Division and over the past six years it has expanded the fleet so that Aisle Masters are now used at eight of its warehouses.

The decision to go down the articulated forklift route followed changes in the Eddie Stobart business model, which, coupled with an increase in customer demand.

The electric powered 20WHE models with 2000kg capacity are predominantly deployed in sites where fast moving consumer goods are stored.

Eddie Stobart materials handling equipment manager Brian Smith says: “We have been impressed with the performance of the Aisle Masters to increase productivity in our warehouses over the years, and equally impressed with the accommodating and can-do attitude of the manufacturers.”


Berrow takes over as MD at Translift

Paul Berrow has become managing director of Translift, the company behind the Bendi forklift truck, as part of a management transition process following the acquisition of the business by a combination of existing management and a private equity investor in July 2017.

At the time of the buyout, Neil Dickinson became managing director and a shareholder in the business, with Berrow as sales director. As a result of the latest changes, Dickinson has become executive director focusing specific projects and supporting continued execution of the strategy.

Rob Bull, currently financial controller, will be appointed as the finance director. Stephen Astbury will step up to the role of sales director.

The business has continued to work closely with Landoll, Translift’s partner during the past 15 months and worldwide producer of the Bendi. In a move designed to offer increased support to Translift and their European dealers, Landoll has established a European Hub based in the UK for trucks and parts.


Quad mast for Flexi Lite

Narrow Aisle has started offering its four-stage Quad lift mast on the Flexi Lite articulated lift truck.

The Flexi Lite was originally designed for applications where trucks have to weigh as little as possible, but addition of the Quad mast, makes it suitable for stuffing and de-stuffing ISO containers.

“The market for materials handling equipment that can unload and load pallets from and to ISO containers is already well established in the USA where virtually all FMCG products are carried in steel sided ‘semi trailers’ and it is growing in the UK,”

“The Flexi LITE’s fast acceleration and travel speeds allied to its ability to enter containers safely make it an ideal product for use at sites where a high degree of ‘cross docking’ is undertaken,” says Narrow Aisle’s commercial director, John Maguire.

“Furthermore, it can take pallet loads directly from the container to their allocated location in the racking, which means costly and time consuming double handling is avoided.”

The Flexi LITE has a chassis width of one metre and can operate in aisles as narrow as 1.8 metres. When fitted with a Quad lift mast it can lift a palletised load weighing 1200kgs to 6 metres of heights.

l Narrow Aisle has launched an AC Lithium-Ion Flexi articulated forklift truck. “When it comes to running a modern warehouse, productivity is key which is why more lift truck users are appreciating the benefits of lithium-ion battery technology,” said John Maguire.


This article first appeared in Logistics Manager, December 2018

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