Crawley-based based Eezehaul offers a broad range of storage and distribution services. A partner in both the APC and TPN overnight pallet delivery networks, the company handles around 3000 shipments a day and, in addition, provides storage, picking, packing and despatch services to a growing range of clients from a diverse cross section of industries.
With demand for the company’s services increasing, Eezehaul took the decision in 2008 to move to a new facility which effectively offers over twice the amount of covered storage and outside space than its original site.
The new 80,000 sq ft unit stands on five acres of land and is ideally located close to the M25/M23 motorway network, but while it had been originally designed and used as a distribution centre, the site had most recently been used as a car showroom and store. This meant that it required considerable development work before it was suitable for Eezehaul’s needs.
"Our original warehouse was around 30,000 sq ft," explains Simon Duggan, Eezehaul’s commercial director. "We looked around for other sites that offered greater capacity but purpose built units of the size that we wanted are relatively scarce in the South East. The new facility has nine loading docks – which is ideal – but it needed additional office space, racking and other cosmetic changes."
One of the first phases in the redevelopment project was the design and build of a racked storage area. After an open tender process, the contract to supply and install the racking scheme was awarded to Jungheinrich UK Ltd.
Although it’s best known for its forklift trucks and other materials handling equipment, Jungheinrich has offered a full range of racking and storage systems as a core part of its product portfolio for over 20 years.
"We met Jungheinrich at a trade show where the company was exhibiting and were impressed by what they had to offer," says Simon Duggan.
Providing over 5000 pallet locations, the top beam of the racking structure at Eezehaul’s new warehouse is 7.8 metres high and the aisles are 3.1 metres wide. The company had considered condensing the aisles to accommodate more space but because Eezehaul undertakes case picking at ground level while full pallets are picked from the upper levels, wider aisles were considered a better option as the extra width means that both functions can take place efficiently and safely.
Eezehaul also needed to upgrade its forklift truck fleet. At its old site the company had operated diesel powered trucks but, with Eezehaul’s business accredited to ISO 14001 – the environmental management system standard – these were to be replaced with more environmentally-friendly electric-powered models.
Also, because the new warehouse unit is close to a residential area, quiet running electric-powered models would be able work in to the early hours of the morning without causing disruption to the company’s neighbours.
Furthermore, Eezehaul needed trucks that could operate for two shifts on one battery charge, as Simon Duggan explains: "We have lots of forklift truck movements. For our pallet network activities we unload double deck trailers and cross dock loads before loading pallets on to delivery vehicles. This work tends to peak in the early hours of the morning and again in the evening. At other times throughout the day the trucks are used to de-stuff incoming containers and put away loads in the pallet racking."
Having worked with Jungheinrich on the design and build of the racking, Eezehaul approached the company to discuss its materials handling equipment requirements and after a thorough review of Eezehaul’s business model, Jungheinrich supplied a fleet of electric-powered counterbalance, reach and stand-on pallet trucks.
The counterbalance trucks are from Jungheinrich’s EFG range. Thanks to their fourth generation AC technology, trucks in the EFG Series achieve constantly low battery consumption and, in most applications, a truck will operate for two shifts without the need for a battery change.
Jungheinrich were also able to demonstrate that during a typical shift an EFG truck will operate for up to half an hour longer before a battery change is required than certain of its competitors. In Eezehaul’s case, this could equate to de-stacking an extra lorry load.
To further enhance efficiency and reduce truck downtime the EFG trucks’ battery can be quickly and easily topped up during one- and two-shift operation: the battery door opens sideways to enable the battery to be pulled out with a hand pallet truck to make topping up and routine maintenance tasks easy.
At Eezehaul, the counterbalance trucks are used along with a number of stand-on pallet trucks to unload incoming trailers and containers. Loads that are passing through the hub as part of Eezehaul’s pallet network activity are either transferred to a cross docking area or taken directly to an outgoing delivery vehicle. Pallets for storage are driven to the racking were they are placed in a marshalling area before being put away by two Jungheinrich ETV reach trucks. Eezehaul chose refurbished reach trucks from Jungheinrich’s ‘Ready to Go’ range. The trucks were rebuilt at the Jungheinrich Group’s specialist used truck refurbishment centre in Dresden, Germany, to the very highest standards.
"Because trucks in our ‘Ready To Go’ range are rebuilt to the same high quality at the Dresden facility, they offer a very cost effective proposition for the operation, which means that these fully refurbished models will give many years of efficient and productive service," says Steve Richmond, general manager Jungheinrich’s Systems & Projects Division.
Establishing the number of trucks required for the new facility was not straightforward as there was little or no specific information regarding the likely throughput at the site, but Simon Duggan believes that the fleet supplied is the optimum size. "The mix of counterbalance, reach and pallet trucks that we are operating has proved ideal but we have the option to acquire additional machines, or increase our capacity with short term rental trucks as our throughput increases."
Jungheinrich’s Steve Richmond comments: "The fact that Jungheinrich could supply a full range of materials handling equipment and design and build Eezehaul’s racking system was an attractive proposition. It is something of a cliché, but being able to offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ meant we were able to simplify the project considerably for Eezehaul’s management team."