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Barloworld helps Woolworths to optimise its materials handling fleet

At the beginning of 2004 leading retailer Woolworths undertook a major review of its materials handling fleet, inviting tenders from the UK's leading lift truck providers. Ultimately, Woolworths chose Barloworld Handling as its materials handling partner.

Woolworths is one of the UK's largest and best-known retailers, focusing on the home, family and entertainment sectors, with over 800 retail outlets nationwide. The company runs five main distribution centres based at Swindon, Rugby, Bedford and two operations at Castleton near Rochdale.

Prior to the evaluation, the materials handling fleet contained over 300 lift trucks, consisting of different types, ages and makes. Each centre had ultimate responsibility for procuring and running their own fleet. The lack of central fleet management meant that truck utilisation was not really effective and, due to compatibility issues, trucks could not easily be swapped between sites at peak times.

Woolworths therefore decided to centralise procurement and an experienced evaluation team came together headed by Keith Lythe, Productivity and Planning Manager.

Barloworld was one the companies short-listed by the team and they comprehensively surveyed the workflow of the whole distribution operation. From that, they were able to see which mix of trucks would best suit the distribution hubs and were also able to recommend procedural improvements and innovations for greater efficiency.

Woolworths were impressed by equipment trials provided by Barloworld with Hyster trucks. Peter Mulock, Woolworths National Asset Manager says “The trucks performed well and I was particularly impressed at the way Barloworld organised themselves”

Initially responsible for 80% of the Woolworth fleet, Barloworld will replace 40-50% with new Hyster trucks in the first year. These include Hyster's R1.4 Matrix reach truck for racking applications as well as Hyster LLO2.0 Low Level Order pickers, and Hyster P2.0S Powered Pallet trucks for goods receipt and despatch operations. Due to the seasonality of Woolworths business, the fleet will be managed around a core of highly utilised trucks supplemented by standby trucks, giving reduced fleet size and cost reduction.

Barloworld is introducing new levels of fleet management at Woolworths, with their National Response Centre at Abingdon playing a key role in keeping the fleet fully operational. They are also helping boost productivity via a number of initiatives, including performance-monitoring software fitted to the trucks and greatly improved battery removal and recharging systems.

Uptime is crucial and at Castleton and Swindon Barloworld provides resident engineers to carry out preventative maintenance on the fleet. Barloworld also provide daily service visits to the other centres and 24/7 cover in the event of breakdown.

Commenting on Barloworld's appointment, Keith Lythe confirms says: “Barloworld emerged as the service provider best suited to Woolworths' current needs, but also allowing a high degree of scope for future flexibility. Barloworld has impressed with its approach to implementing new arrangements, and user reaction to the new Hyster equipment has been very favourable.”

Barloworld Handling Limited
Maidenhead Office Park Maidenhead
Berkshire SL6 3QN

Tel +44 (0) 1628 822151
Fax +44 (0) 1628 820418

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