Privately-owned UK company, Niftylift Ltd is one of the largest manufacturers of cherry pickers, boom lifts, access, lift, aerial and work platforms in Europe.
The company has a hugely successful export business and commands a significant share of the European, US, Middle East, Far East, Australian and South African markets.
To keep pace with the demand for its extensive range and its plans for future growth, Niftylift has recently invested in developing the warehouse facility at its Milton Keynes manufacturing plant.
The 50,000 sq ft warehouse not only provides inbound sequencing for the company’s manufacturing facility but also acts as a buffer store for spare parts which Niftylift supplies to customers and distributors worldwide.
With over 6000 line items held at the facility, Niftylift’s challenge was to create more storage space within the existing storage cube, as Steve Beckwith, the company’s production manager explains: ""We wanted to get more out of our current assets and didn’t want to invest in a new building if we could avoid it. So, we looked at storage solutions that would enable us to increase the storage density at our current facility and allow us to increase capacity without incurring the cost that a move to bigger premises would involve."
Prior to the revamp, Niftylift’s warehouse had been served by reach trucks stacking EURO pallets 1.2 metres deep in 2.8 metre wide aisles. However, replacing the reach trucks with new Flexi VNA articulated forklifts has allowed the aisles to be reduced to 1.8 metres. This has created enough space within the store to permit extra runs of 6 metre high racking to be installed which provides enough extra pallet spaces to meet Niftylift’s current needs comfortably.
The most recent addition to the Flexi Narrow Aisle range of articulated forklift trucks, the Flexi VNA is a true four-wheel articulated truck designed to require minimal manoeuvring in the aisleways without investment in high cost guided truck systems. The truck’s excellent manouvrability results in faster pallet put-away and picking.
In a 1600mm wide aisle, for example, the Flexi VNA needs only one articulation to put-away a standard ISO (or Chep-style) pallet. Flexi Narrow Aisle say that comparative tests have highlighted the fact that some three wheel articulated trucks with ‘pivot’ steering technology, require up to four movements to achieve the same result.
John Maguire, sales and marketing director of Flexi Narrow Aisle, commented: "Some articulated trucks require the operator to perform a five-point turn in the aisleway before a pallet can be put-away or picked. The Flexi VNA requires one turn to enter or de-stack a pallet.
‘This is hugely significant and results in very significant time savings. In any application involving articulated trucks the amount of time spent in the aisleway picking and putting away pallets has to be minimised if optimum operational efficiencies are to be achieved."
Niftylift’s truck drivers all received a short on site conversion training to ensure that they were familiar and comfortable with the articulated truck’s unique operating technique and, Steve Beckwith reports, all of the drivers "get on fine" with the new Flexi and are already able to move more pallets per hour than the old reach trucks.
"The Flexi VNA has allowed us to reduce aisle widths to maximise storage capacity while maintaining a safe and productive operation that allows fast and efficient pallet put away and retrieval cycles," adds Steve Beckwith.
John Maguire comments: "There are obvious synergies between Niftylift and Flexi Narow Aisle – both are British owned manufacturing companies that take pride in the design and build quality of their products, so we are delighted to have been able to work with them to improve the operational efficiency of their modern warehouse facility."
Flexi Narrow Aisle
Tel: 0121 557 6242