Specialist cold store operator Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution Ltd, has expanded its fleet of Atlet warehouse trucks with another two Tergo UHS double-deep trucks and five Presto PLP powered pallet transporters to work in a new cold store built to cope with additional contracts. The company configured the new 5568-pallet warehouse for double-deep operations to maximise storage capacity after considering other racking options. The new trucks bring the fleet at CCSD to seven reach trucks, sixteen ride-on powered pallet transporters and eight pedestrian-operated powered pallet transporters and extend a relationship with Atlet that started over ten years ago.
¡°We wanted to equip the new cold store with the latest equipment,¡± says Paul Jackson, founder and Managing Director of Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution. ¡°We went to the open market but stayed with Atlet because of the total service they offered and their track record with our previous trucks.¡±
Since Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution was established in 1994 it has expanded rapidly by building an excellent reputation in the highly competitive temperature controlled food service and logistics sectors. Customers include several of the UK¡¯s leading retailers, as well as
airline catering companies and other food service operations. Its continued success is based on focusing on customer requirements and then delivering on its commitments with a team of dedicated logistics professionals. The company bought its first Atlet trucks around 10 years ago and has added to its fleet and replaced older units on a number of occasions since.
During 2006 the company was offered the opportunity to purchase the leasehold on its Peterborough site. Taking on ownership of the eight and a half acre site provided the company with complete control of the facility and enabled it to plan for the future with greater stability and room to exploit further opportunities.
Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution¡¯s first action was to maximise the new cold store¡¯s potential and take on additional contracts. The company wanted to optimise the storage capacity on site and looked at a number of options including double-deep and push back racking. Double-deep was
considered the better option because it offered faster overall operations. Each option potentially involved moving pallets more than once but with double-deep the need was less frequent whereas push -back racking almost always involves multiple movements. Load selectivity was a potential issue but was not as important as maximising space.
The new cold store has 5568 pallet locations, adding another 70 per cent to the existing on-site storage capacity. Racking is arranged four-high with a top beam at 8.5m. The company estimates that the facility, which has 80 percent of racking configured for double deep, offers about 40 per cent more capacity than a similar size building with standard pallet layout. When it came to selecting trucks for the new operation the company naturally looked at other options as well as approaching Atlet. One of the key factors was the support offered by the potential suppliers.
¡°What keeps us with Atlet is their commitment to service,¡± says Paul Jackson. ¡°When you put a truck in a minus 25¢ªC cold store it¡¯s going to fail sooner or later so the choice of supplier is all about service and response, first time fix rates and availability of spares. Their engineers are the difference. They visit us every day for routine tasks and are just fantastic.¡±
This was the first time Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution has configured a warehouse for double-deep (previous facilities have conventional and push-back racking) and this inevitably meant it had to retrain its drivers to work with the new concept. Access to the trucks is managed using a personal identification number (PIN) which drivers must enter before the truck will operate.
Used in conjunction with a truck¡¯s on-board computer this provides full traceability and accountability of all operations, allowing managers to monitor who was using a specific truck at any given time. Information generated by the computer can then be used to assess a driver¡¯s overall performance and identify any additional or refresher training requirements. The computers can also be programmed to govern the performance and driving
characteristics of the trucks so that they can be matched to the skill levels of their assigned drivers to maximise operational safety.
The seven new trucks were all supplied in the Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution distinctive blue and green corporate colour scheme to match the existing fleet. Even though it is only three years since the company bought its previous trucks from Atlet it noticed a number of improvements in the design, highlighting the ongoing development that comes with each new generation of lift truck.
For example, the latest version of the award winning Atlet Tergo reach truck features greatly-enhanced performance, safety and ergonomics. Fitted with Atlet¡¯s unique S3 Stability Support System, the Forte is arguably the safest high-performance lift truck on the market. S3 automatically provides higher truck stability by governing speed and acceleration, and the interface between speed and steering sensitivity. It automatically reduces the speed of truck functions in proportion to the height lifted, overrides unsafe manoeuvres and reduces jerkiness in the manipulation of the controls. Another improvement has been the supply of new generation high performance batteries which provide longer shifts between charges as well as being more economical to run and using ancillary equipment such as chargers which takes up less space in the warehouse.
Atlet modified the trucks prior to delivery in line with Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution requirements for additional features including dashboard mounted clipboards and wider spaced control levers and buttons that are easier to use when wearing thick gloves in the cold store.
¡°The new trucks have better performance and there¡¯s a significant improvement in the ergonomic features,¡± says Paul
Jackson. ¡°We¡¯ve had good feedback from the drivers about them,¡±
Around one quarter of the company¡¯s business is related to chilled and frozen ready meals, including distribution to the airline industry. Although the majority of business is in cold storage, the company has ambient capability which allows it to provide complementary services to food service customers, for example supplying cutlery, tableware and accessories as part of an overall contract. From Peterborough, with its easy access to the UK motor network and east coast ports, Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution offers an ideal base for delivery to all of the major airports in the UK and Europe. Four new contracts are accommodated in the new facility allowing Chiltern to retain its position as one of the leaders in a very demanding and competitive foodservice sector
Chiltern Cold Storage & Distribution now has two cold stores operating round the clock at its Peterborough site, but even with the new building there is still another five acres of spare space for expansion without relocation. With demand for its services continuing to grow the current ideal location just off the A1 should provide the company with plenty of opportunities in the future.
¡°Everything in business now is about relationships.¡± says Paul Jackson. ¡°We¡¯ve been with Atlet for 10 years. We provide them with feedback and they respond accordingly – it's a very workable team relationship.¡±
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