With more than 40 per cent of the global market for offset printing machines Heidelberg is the world's leading provider of printing machinery. Apart from printing presses, the company's product portfolio includes plate imaging devices and finishing equipment, as well as software components designed to integrate all print manufacturing processes and in 2006/2007, it achieved global sales of 3.803 billion euro and a net profit of 263 million euro.
The company recently took the decision to re-evaluate the materials handling operation at its production centre which is located near the city from which it takes its name and, following successful trials, Heidelberg has taken delivery of two Flexi EURO articulated forklift trucks from Narrow Aisle.
Before the arrival of the Flexi EUROs Heidelberg had been using a combination of stacker trucks and various counterbalance machines to unload and put away deliveries as they arrived at the factory from its various machinery component suppliers. A counterbalance truck was employed to unload trailers, before a stacker took over and transferred parts to Heidelberg's lineside buffer store. From the buffer store a different counterbalance truck – smaller in size and capacity to the one used to offload the trailers – was tasked with transferring parts to the production line.
The switch to Flexi EUROs has enabled Heidelberg Press to use just one truck to do the jobs that three forklifts had previously been used for. The Flexi EUROs now collect incoming goods from trailers outside the plant and deliver them directly to the buffer very narrow aisle store and, as component parts are called off for production, they are taken directly to the assembly line using the electric-powered EUROs.
The flexibility of the Flexi should enable Heidelberg Press to reduce the types of forklifts operating at its site – the two types of counterbalance machine and the lateral stacker trucks that once operated there are no longer required – which has led to significant cost savings.
To further improve the materials handling operation at Heidelberg press the Flexi EUROs have been supplied with quick release attachments that enable the truck's forks to adjust and extend hydraulically to handle some of the larger and often unusually shaped items that arrive at the site on stillages.
Launched earlier this year, the Flexi EURO features all the design characteristics that have made the Flexi the biggest selling range of articulated trucks in Europe, and thanks to its compact chassis and narrow front axle it is capable of working in aisles as narrow as 1600mm wide (with a Euro pallet) or 1762mm wide (with an ISO pallet).
This compact four wheel articulated forklift truck has the ability to lift 1800kg loads and with lift heights of over 7 metres making it suitable for facilities where space is at a premium. Importantly, the fact that the truck has a sable four wheel configuration means that tyre and floor loadings are not compromised making the Flexi EURO equally at home inside and outside the warehouse facility where it can load and unload lorries and deliver pallets directly to the racking in a single operation.
Narrow Aisle supplied the Flexi EUROs to Heidelberg together with a comprehensive service support package that ensures 'round the clock' availability.
John Maguire, Narrow Aisle's sales and marketing director, commented: “The cost savings that the Flexi EURO have brought to Heidelberg Press's handling operation have been huge. The lateral stackers they had been using could not operate outside and the counterbalance machines that unloaded incoming vehicles were too big to deliver to the line. By demonstrating that a single Flexi truck could replace three machines meant that the case for switching to state of the art articulated technology was simply overwhelming.”