Introducing the latest high specification Atlet Tergo Forte reach truck as part of a scheduled fleet replacement has enabled Knights of Old to utilise
more effectively the double deep racking in its Kettering warehouse. The ability to handle full-weight pallets into more of the available locations will provide greater flexibility to the company as it continues to expand its busy transport and distribution operations. The installation is believed to be one of the highest double-deep applications in the UK with a top beam height of 10.3 metres. In addition to the reach trucks, Atlet supplied high level order pickers and ride-on and pedestrian operated powered pallet
trucks to support highly flexible handling and picking capabilities.
“We can now operate double-deep to the full pallet specification in 95 percent of all locations,” says Ian Beattie, Operations Director at Knights of Old. “As our business has changed Atlet has been flexible to meet our
Knights of Old is a privately owned transport and distribution specialist based in Kettering which can trace its origins back around 100 years. The company has operated from its current location just off the A14 for the past six years, providing a range of transport and distribution services including bulk pallet and pick and pack operations for number of clients. It is Motor Transport's “Haulier of the Year” for 2006 having been runner up in
the two previous years.
Atlet supplied the original lift truck fleet for the 7000m2, 10,000 pallet warehouse when it opened in 2000. At the time the specification did not require the reach trucks to handle full 1000kg pallets to all locations,
around 50 per cent of which are configured for double-deep. Instead, rear locations in the upper racking levels were filled with lighter and smaller pallets.
As the business has continued to grow, trebling in size in the past six years, Knights of Old realised that the ability to handle full loads into more of its double deep pallet locations would enable it to handle a greater variety of items for its customers with greater flexibility.
When the time came to replace the lift truck fleet the company approached Atlet and a number of alternative suppliers to investigate its options. The
company considered reconfiguring the warehouse with narrow aisle but this would have meant a reduction in pallet locations. Instead it decided to retain the double deep racking and look at ways of improving utilisation.
“Double deep is best to get most out of the box,” says Ian Beattie. “We looked at three or four suppliers and no one could do it as well as Atlet. It was very difficult to find another supplier who understands double-deep properly.”
The company selected the latest version of the award winning Atlet Tergo reach truck – the Forte S3 – which features greatly-enhanced performance, safety and ergonomics. It is also stronger and quieter, and its on-board
computer system has been further developed to aid diagnostics, allow a high degree of driver-customisation and provide a host of operational data. The truck has been made even more rugged and robust but has the same compact dimensions as its predecessor with the higher load handling rating achieved by installing a heavier counterweight. For double deep operation the truck has been equipped with extending forks which allows pallets to be handled into the rear locations in the double deep racking. The result is that the new reach trucks can easily handle the full 1000kg into any pallet location
up to 10.3 metres except for the rear of the very highest racking level in the warehouse.
The Forte is arguably the safest high-performance lift truck on the market. It is fitted with Atlet's unique S3 Stability Support System that automatically provides higher truck stability by governing speed and acceleration, and the interface between speed and steering sensitivity. S3 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, a factor that complements the new smoothly-damped mast. S3 enables optimum performance and productivity combined with maximum safety.
Continuing the relationship with Atlet was more than simply choosing the most appropriate trucks. The way the lift truck company works with customers
was also an important part of the decision. In particular, Knights of Old recognised that Atlet had worked hard throughout the first contract to understand and respond to its evolving business and the resulting changes in
handling and picking.
“Atlet understood our business from the ground up and was able to bring in different people at relevant levels to help us,” says Ian Beattie. “Business stability is important and because they have had people in place for a long time we don't need to explain everything each time we want something.”
“They are not a huge multinational which means we can get to speak with fairly senior people when we need to. In our line of business the personal
approach is best and we try to find suppliers who are the same.”
Inside the warehouse products for each principal client are held in zones with pallet putaway and replenishment tasks managed using the three new Atlet Tergo Forte reach trucks. The fleet is completed by three Atlet Ergo
Picker OPS order pickers which are used to pick cases and single items while two each of the compact ride-on Presto PLP and pedestrian operated Piccolo PLL powered pallet trucks are used for general pallet handling and transport loading and unloading. In this way the fleet provides Knights of Old with complete flexibility to handle and pick everything from a full pallet to a single item.
Transport is the biggest part of our operations but the warehouse adds value,” says Ian Beattie. “Prices are down so efficiency is critical. One
day we will be picking and next it may be bulk handling. The Atlet trucks give us the ability to adapt when our client base changes.”
Operations in the warehouse are split broadly 50/50 between bulk handling and pick and pack. The warehouse operates around the clock, six days a week, often supplying items at short notice to meet customers' requirements. As an example one customer requires packaging items to be sent just-in-time to its own warehouse within very short delivery windows.
“Cross docking is becoming a bigger part of our operations which means the equipment has to work harder,” says Ian Beattie. “The smaller trucks really help our operations.”
Controls in the new trucks are laid out in a similar way to the models they replaced. This was an advantage in the warehouse because all the operators were immediately familiar and comfortable with the new trucks. Less time was spent familiarising them with the replacements than would have been required if the new trucks had been sourced from a different manufacturer.
“We have a high proportion of women drivers – around 50 per cent – and the trucks are extremely user-friendly and not physically difficult to operate,”
says Ian Beattie. “They also support the multi-tasking and multi-skilled operations we promote in the warehouse.”
The fleet has been supplied on a five year lease with Atlet providing service and maintenance through call-out contract. One of the existing machines was not due for replacement but Atlet was able to incorporate it into the new contract so that the whole fleet is now on the same schedule.
The trucks have on-board computers which, in addition to managing operations and providing diagnostics, record how they have been used. Information is logged about hours used, time spent travelling, number of lifts and impacts. Used in conjunction with a PIN system to control driver access and prevent unauthorised use, this allows fleet managers to match performance to individual operators to promote safety and more efficient use.
“We have an overview of operations and we know who's driving what and when,” says Ian Beattie. “This has helped reduce damage to trucks and to the
warehouse because drivers know we can identify the extact time and the driver if impact should occur.”
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