An Atlet Omni DCR man rising combination pallet stacker/order picker was the ideal choice for the new spare parts warehouse opened by Liebherr-Great Britain in Biggleswade.
Adopting very narrow aisle in the new warehouse has enabled Liebherr to reduce the overall footprint of the building compared with its previous facility but with increased storage capacity. Load selectivity and handling efficiency have also been increased because the Atlet Omni DCR supports picking from all racking locations in the warehouse.
Liebherr-Great Britain is part of a global organisation manufacturing an extensive range of cranes, earth moving equipment, excavators, wheel loaders, crawler tractors, mining trucks and concrete mixers. The company recently relocated its UK head office, heavy plant engineering maintenance and spare parts warehouse operations to a nine acre green field site in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire after it outgrew its facility in nearby Hatfield.
The new warehouse supplies spare parts for any product in the Liebherr range while the engineering maintenance operation is designed to service heavy plant and machinery weighing 10 tonnes and over. When it was planning the site Liebherr recognised that it needed to optimise the storage capacity of the warehouse while enhancing picking selectivity and efficiency. The old warehouse had employed traditional low level stacking and picking but at Biggleswade the company wanted to minimise floor space while increasing the overall capacity.
The solution was to introduce very narrow aisle racking and increase the height of the storage area five fold compared with the previous operation. The result is that the new warehouse can hold more than 20,000different line items in a building that occupies a smaller footprint than it predecessor. These are stored in 1000 pallet locations arranged along aisles of nine-high racking and in 1700 shelf picking locations on a mezzanine floor at the side of the warehouse. “We opted for narrow aisle because of the space but it also leaves more room for expansion on the same site in the future,” says Warehouse Manager Dave Totman.
Trucks from three manufacturers were evaluated before the company selected the Atlet Omni DCR man-rising combination pallet stacker/order picker. This is the only narrow aisle truck used in the warehouse so Liebherr had to be confident about reliability and, because it operates in racking up to nine-high, adopting a totally new picking process. “This is not a fast picking environment and we were more concerned with truck reliability and load selectivity,” says Dave Totman. “We bought from Atlet on service recommendation. It's the only truck so it has to be reliable.”
Liebherr selected the wire guided option for the new truck because this avoids the need for a guide rail which makes it much easier to store palletised loads at ground level without potential obstruction for maximum selectivity and operational flexibility.
Palletised goods arriving in the warehouse are put away by the Omni DCR. With its rising cab the truck can pick orders from anywhere in the racking, and the 'diagonal lift' capability – where the cab rises as the truck travels down the aisles – enables the operator to arrive at the required location in the shortest possible time. The truck's control centre is ergonomically laid-out for efficient picking, with a spacious cab area and a control panel adjustable to suit the driver's preference. A rotating and traversing fork carriage enables the Omni DCR to stack and retrieve to either side of the aisle, and to pick up pallets from the front when free-ranging.
For added productivity the forks traverse and swivel simultaneously. The infinitely-adjustable secondary fork lift allows the operator to position the pallet at the most comfortable working height. These features are a significant benefit in a warehouse like this where items can vary in size from small engineering components through assemblies such as hydraulic cylinders to a major item on its own pallet.
“Operating at height in the racking goes against everything we were used to but the truck's very stable even at the highest levels,” says Dave Totman.
Staff in the adjacent head office take orders using the company's “LIDOS” order system and details are printed out in the warehouse for use when picking the selected items for overnight delivery. Around 90 per cent of items picked are for customers in the UK or Ireland although the warehouse can supply to customers anywhere in the world if a part is needed urgently.
Atlet's unique approach to design means that all trucks in its range are based on just six chassis types to provide a high degree of standardisation and quality assured modularity. From common modules Atlet can manufacture thousands of variants to consistent quality and high technical and ergonomic standards. The entire range is based on fewer than 3,500 different components and this has a major impact on reliability and servicing. This component commonality is a major factor in helping to ensure that service engineers can anticipate or identify and fix problems during their first visit to minimise truck downtime. “Atlet has a fine record on first time fix,” says Dave Totman. “This was a big factor when we chose the truck.
“The Omni DCR is absolutely perfect and everyone here is very happy with it.”
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