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Compound interest

Formed in 1978 Petlon Polymers Ltd specialise in reprocessing and compounding polymer products into a range of materials that can be reused by the industrial plastics sector.

The company receives bulk quantities of plastics including, for example, post consumer plastic bottles that have been washed and crushed into ‘flakes’ and ground mouldings and uses state of the art extrusion technology to convert these materials into granules that go on to produce a range of industrial components and packaging materials.

Petlon supplies a range of markets – from the automotive sector to the food packaging industry – and operates from a 12,000 square metre manufacturing, warehouse and distribution facility in Gloucestershire.

Raw materials arrive on site in bulk bags and ‘octoboxes’ delivered on pallets. The bags are consolidated at floor level within Petlon’s warehouse until required in the adjoining factory.

Five extrusion lines operate within the factory – another is due to come on stream early in 2014 – where recycled raw materials and other composite compounds, such as glass, colourings and flame retardant chemicals, are delivered to the lines as and when they are required by a fleet of counterbalanced forklift trucks.

Petlon has recently switched forklift provider and now employs diesel-powered counterbalanced machines from the Jungheinrich DFG range to undertake all the handling tasks at the Gloucestershire facility.

The Jungheinrich DFG range offers the lowest noise levels and emissions, while fuel consumption is also particularly low.

The truck also has a number of important safety features. For example, thanks to the special design of the counterweight and its high mounted safety steering axle, the truck has a low centre of gravity and, as a result, excellent stability is assured without the need for an additional electronic stability programme.

Other safety features include excellent operator forward visibility, which means that during pallet pick-up and put-away the operator has a virtually unobstructed view.

Once the extrusion process is complete, the pelletised plastics materials are packed into bags, sacks or intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) and transferred from the factory to the warehouse where they are stored in a combination of racking and floor-based pallet locations to await customer call-off.

A Jungheinrich ETV 114 reach truck serves the racking locations.

No forklift truck manufacturer sells more sit-on reach trucks globally than Jungheinrich and one of the attractions of the range is the excellent operator conditions the trucks provide.

For example, there is no steering column in the cockpit which enables the operator to mount and dismount quickly and safely. This also ensures ample legroom is available and provides a comfortable sitting position on the reach truck. In addition, an adjustable backrest and body weight facility on the truck’s Comfort seat allows the operator to adjust the sitting position to his or her exact requirements.

Petlon is one of the few compounding recyclers currently operating within the UK and the company is undergoing a period of expansion. Turnover is growing, sales are climbing month on month and the workforce is expanding.

The introduction of new forklifts is part of an ongoing investment plan that has been set in place to ensure that Petlon keeps pace with the increasing demand for its products and services.

Managing director, Gavin Rees, comments: "We rely on our materials handling systems and equipment to ensure that our intralogistics processes are as efficient as they can possibly be.

"Our counterbalanced forklifts were due to be upgraded so we decided to see what other products were on the market beyond those which our existing supplier could offer.

"Our forklift drivers played a key role in our decision to switch to Jungheinrich. Having tested a number of alternative makes, they voted unanimously for the Jungheinrich DFG trucks.

"We were also impressed by the fact the DFG is a low maintenance and easy to service truck – which means truck downtime is kept to a minimum and whole life operating costs are low."

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