When Schiedel Rite Vent was planning a new finished goods and raw materials warehouse at its factory it specified double deep racking served by a new Atlet lift truck to maximise storage capacity. The new warehouse complements existing facilities, which use a combination of double deep and conventional racking, and Schiedel Rite Vent estimates that it can store around 50 per cent more items in the same space. In addition to supplying a new double-deep reach stacker for the warehouse, Atlet also refurbished a number of Schiedel Rite Vent's existing trucks to bring the entire fleet up to the best possible standard.
“We chose Atlet again because they provide good service and a quality product,” says Paul Mansfield, Warehouse Manager at Schiedel Rite Vent. “The new truck is excellent and the ones that have been refurbished look like new.”
Scheidel Rite Vent, part of the multinational LaFarge group, is one of Europe's leading manufacturers of commercial chimneys. At its factory in Washington, Tyne and Wear, the company produces steel chimneys although the warehouse is also responsible for distributing accessories and concrete products made elsewhere. The company produces all types of chimneys in eight ranges which in practice means hundreds of combinations to provide customers with almost limitless choice. Customers include numerous construction companies as well as many of the UK's major builders' merchants. Products manufactured in Washington are also exported to other parts of the EU, Middle East and Far East. In addition to its core products the company supplies major construction projects through a special contracts division. One such project was the chimney and ducting systems for the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
Atlet originally supplied a fleet of trucks to Schiedel Rite Vent some years ago when the warehouse was reconfigured for double deep to create additional capacity and avoid the need for a larger building. The business has continued to grow and Schiedel Rite Vent recognised that an additional warehouse would now provide greater capacity while allowing it to optimise storage and handling operations. Adopting double deep in the new warehouse was an obvious choice and the company approached potential lift truck suppliers for their recommendations. Atlet proposed one of its XTF extending
forks reach trucks, the latest version of a truck already operating in the older warehouse.
“There is some reduction in load selectivity with double deep but this is not an issue for us because of the type of products we are handling,” says Paul Mansfield.
The existing Atlet trucks, including XTF ride-on and ATF stand-on extending fork reach truck models which had been supplied on a fixed term lease, were due for replacement at the same time and Schiedel Rite Vent decided its most cost effective option was to have these refurbished. Atlet rebuilt each truck from the ground up to “nearly new” standard in its engineering workshops in Thame using only original parts. The trucks were then re-sprayed and subjected to rigorous quality assurance and safety checks prior to redelivery. Refurbished Atlet trucks, known as Series Two, are popular among customers who cannot justify the cost of a brand new truck – for example where low usage is envisaged – and the savings can be considerable without compromising performance and reliability. In addition to refurbishing the ATF and XTF trucks Atlet also supplied a Series Two UNS reach truck to support goods inwards operations in the old warehouse.
The old warehouse contains 1500 pallets arranged along single and double deep racking although Schiedel Rite Vent is converting some of its single deep locations to double deep to increase overall capacity. The new warehouse contains an additional 2500 pallet locations on five levels
compared with three in the older building. Going higher has minimised the floor area of the new building although the additional height is well within the capabilities of the XTF truck.
The Atlet XTF extending fork reach truck is the most compact reach truck manufactured by the company and an ideal choice for warehouses where space is at a premium. It is designed to operate in the narrowest possible aisles, leaving maximum space for racking without compromising overall performance. Unlike a conventional reach truck the forks, rather than the carriage, extend to place and retrieve pallets. The operation at Schiedel Rite Vent is not intensive and a more important consideration is operational flexibility. Warehouse operatives undertake a number of tasks, which means they are on and off the truck throughout the day. Under these circumstances a stand-on
truck like the XTF can be very convenient although the ATF sit-on version is also used in the warehouse.
Each of the nine people working in the warehouse can operate all of the trucks. The newer models have PIN controlled access and, although this offers a number of management information capabilities, the objective at Schiedel Rite Vent is to ensure that only authorised personnel can use the trucks. Used in conjunction with the on-board computers, PIN access can also help set different performance characteristics for each driver, for example
restricting lift or travel speeds for newly qualified staff. The trucks perform a range of handling duties in the warehouse and are used for order picking as well as pallet handling. The majority of loads are palletised and wrapped. As a long term Atlet customer Paul Mansfield has seen the trucks evolve over the years.
“The new trucks are easier to operate,” says Paul Mansfield. “The mini steer
wheel makes it very easy to turn and the trucks are very precise and easy to use, especially in double deep areas. The hydraulics have improved and the
performance can be changed by reprogramming the on-board computer.”
One of the reasons that potential customers sometimes shy away from refurbished trucks is perceived poor reliability compared with brand new models. Atlet's Series Two programme is designed to minimise the chances of unscheduled downtime by ensuring that each truck undergoes the most thorough
rebuild and quality assurance checks before it arrives with the customer.
Atlet's overall design philosophy has resulted in a comprehensive range where all models are based on just six chassis types to minimise the number of components. This simplifies manufacture and servicing and on the rare occasions that problems occur they can normally be sorted out quickly and during the first visit by the service engineer.
“The reliability of all of the trucks is very good,” says Paul Mansfield. “The maintenance people are very good and if we have any problems they come
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