The introduction of a gas-powered Aisle-Master articulated forklift has enabled Fannin Healthcare N.I., an independent distributor of medical, surgical and laboratory products, to optimise storage capacity at its new 6,500sq ft warehouse facility in Belfast.
Fannin Healthcare N.I. (formerly BM Browne), is part of the DCC plc group and has experienced extensive growth of its product line ranging from disposables to high tech laboratory analysers and surgical equipment. Finding a suitable forklift for the new premises was a crucial issue for Director of Operations Kevin O'Connell, and quite a challenge, as he explains: “We needed optimum pallet storage density, whilst retaining a high degree of flexibility. We also wanted a truck versatile enough to work both inside and out, able to load and offload quickly in the yard. ”
The LPG powered Aisle-Master has a proven record as a more flexible and space-saving option compared to reach or counterbalance trucks – it can work in 2.0m aisles. It was recommended by local materials handling suppliers CMS in Mallusk and visits to other Aisle-Master customers convinced Fannin's Northern Ireland Director David Rodgers and Kevin O'Connell that this forklift would indeed be the ideal machine to complement the impressive new facilities.
The net benefit for Fannin is that they can now store significantly more pallets in the new warehouse. The Aisle-Master's articulated design has enabled operating aisle widths to be reduced to just 2.2m, lifting pallets to a height of 6.6m. This represents additional storage capacity of over 25% compared to reach trucks and up to 50% when compared counterbalance trucks.
Its versatility allows Fannin to operate all handling operations with just one forklift without compromising on loading schedules or forklift availability. The risk of product damage through double handling is also eliminated.
LPG power has done away with time-consuming battery charging necessary with electric models, and a bulk tank soon to be installed from Flogas (also part of the DCC group) will make the refuelling process a matter of minutes. The Aisle-Master is fitted with a 3-way catalytic converter, which ensures emissions are reduced to well below the stringent EU regulations. Truck operator Michael Barr finds it easy to drive and sees the enhanced visibility and the lack of “rear end swing” as significant advantages over conventional reach or counterbalance trucks.
Both Kevin and David believe the new building, which includes conference rooms; training rooms and customers facilities will be a tremendous asset to the company. From a storage and handling point of view, they both agree that “Everything has been improved – access, storage density, compliance with health and safety guidelines, efficiency, customer service and staff satisfaction”.
The Aisle-Master, which is manufactured in Clontibret, Co. Monaghan, is becoming increasingly popular in a growing range of applications, including builders providers, furniture importers, stationery suppliers and manufacturers of horticultural products.