By reorganising its warehouse storage method around the articulating, Bendi forklift, Gloucester-based Online Packaging has transformed its warehouse efficiency in ways that no other forklift could have achieved.
The most often cited reason for switching to articulated forklifts is the space savings achieved, typically 33% compared with reach trucks and 50% with counterbalanced (cb) machines, but in Online's case the company had been using the densest form of storage possible –block stacking. Such a storage method, however, is time wasting, highly damage prone and difficult for stock tracking and rotation.
Rising contract sizes convinced Online to change from block stacking to aisle-based, adjustable pallet racking (APR), which allows instant, 100% accessibility. Space saving, however, was still a key necessity for this 2,500 pallet store, so storage aisles had to be at a minimum.
Other than articulating forklifts, the only type of lifting machine capable of working in such narrow aisles is the dedicated, VNA (very narrow aisle) truck. These trucks, however, cost far more to buy and maintain, requiring such extras like wire or rail guidance and flat floors, and are completely inflexible.
The pallet racking also allowed Online to stack far higher (over 9 mt) than the previous, 4-pallet high block stacking. Some Hi-Lift versions of the Bendi allow stacking to 13 mt, higher than any other competing, articulated trucks. By economising on aisle widths and making better use of height, Online's warehouse manager, Maurice Jotham, believes the company can store twice as many pallets as before.
Produced by Redditch-based Translift Bendi Online use the B318 three-wheeler model. It can comfortably work in 1.6mt wide aisles and will lift 800 kg to 9 mt. Online's maximum pallet load is 600 kg but pallet sizes vary widely, including double width pallets.
Apart from the inherent safety advantages of the truck's design, including better load vision, lack of rear end swing, hill start and safe load rotation, the Bendi comes with the usual safety features of reversing bleeper and flashing light.
But the Bendi's range of wheel drives, including front wheel, rear wheel and all-wheel drives, also improves safety through better wheel grip, an advantage covered by Translift's patented technology.
Translift Bendi's managing director, Simon Brown, says “It's important in this surging sector of the marketplace that trucks adhere to the highest possible safety standards set by the Bendi.”
Online still uses a counterbalance truck for dealing with lorry loads in the yard although the Bendi is equally comfortable with this operation, a task beyond the capabilities of a reach truck and occasionally uses the Bendi for this operation. This dual functionality of yard and warehouse truck is often identified by distribution companies when changing their lift truck fleets over to Bendis.
Truck productivity can be further enhanced when companies switch over to paperless warehousing, using barcodes with laser readers, because the Bendi can go straight from lorry unloading to racking put-away, thus cutting out double handling. In a rare departure for packaging companies, Online has adopted such technology and on occasions has used the Bendi to raise productivity in this way. Consequently, combined with the other changes, “Our efficiency now is unbelievable,” commented Maurice Jotham.
Trained on site by Translfit Bendi, the drivers find the truck very easy to drive and preferable to their other types of truck used. Much quicker to use than reach trucks when manoeuvring in narrow aisles, the Bendi helps ensure Online can meet tight delivery schedules for its customers. These include same-day delivery, if possible, for its range of industrial packaging, mainly cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and infill protection. Bendi reliability and good after sales service are also an essential element in maintaining high customer satisfaction levels.
Overall savings in space and time, together with reduced capital costs, can create huge savings for operators. For more information call Translift Bendi on 01527 527411 or visit www.Bendi.co.uk