Like so many leading third party logistics specialists, Telford-based Simmonds Transport started life as a transport and distribution operation and added warehousing to its service offering as the business evolved. Now in its fourth decade, the company offers a range of integrated supply chain solutions to a broad client base.
Simmonds had, until recently, operated two relatively modestly sized warehousing facilities around the Telford area but, faced with growing demand for its storage services, the company took the decision to rationalise its operation within one, purpose-built and ultra modern facility.
So, in August 2008, Simmonds opened a new 100,000 sq ft unit. The multi-user facility offers a combination of racked storage and block stacking space and currently houses a broad range of goods from paper to food and electrical products.
When considering the design of the storage system for the new warehouse, Simmonds’ main priority was to make maximum use of the available space.
The company benchmarked the performance of a range of storage and materials handling equipment options before deciding that its needs where best met by a narrow aisle storage system designed around Flexi articulated truck technology.
With their ability to operate in aisleways as narrow as 1.6 metres and lift pallet loads to heights of over 12 metres, the Flexi range of articulated trucks from UK manufacturer, Narrow Aisle can save warehouse operators at least 30 per cent of their storage costs. In Simmonds’ case this meant that a racked area capable of providing some 12,000 pallet locations could be built while leaving plenty of room for block stacking. The top beam of the pallet racking at the site is 10.5 metres high and the aisleways are just 2.2 meres wide and the racking is served by a fleet of two Flexi HiMax articulated forklift trucks and one Flexi G4 articulated truck.
The Flexi HiMAX is an ideal solution for high bay warehouses where fast throughput capability and narrow aisle storage density are required. The HiMAX allows pallet loads to be stacked 12 metres high. Its heavy duty fixed mast means heavier loads can be lifted, while a specially-developed high quality tilting and side shifting fork carriage eliminates mast deflection at the highest lift heights.
Meanwhile, the Flexi G4 is the most popular articulated truck in Europe. Built on a standard platform it offers low maintenance costs and low rental costs. Its unique twin load wheel drive offers safe traction in all conditions especially when laden.
"We thought about man-up order pickers but felt that the need for other handling equipment to feed the aisles while the man-up machines put away and picked orders was not cost or time efficient," says Neil Simmonds, Simmonds Transport’s sales director.
"We believe that there are plenty of companies operating VNA systems who, if they were to evaluate their operation and review their handling requirements, would, like Simmonds Transport, see the Flexi articulated trucks as an attractive alternative to traditional Man-UP VNA forklifts," says John Maguire , sales and marketing director of Narrow Aisle Flexi
The majority of incoming loads that arrive at Simmonds’ new warehouse are unloaded from trailers using pallet trucks and delivered to a marshalling area where they are collected by the Flexi articulated trucks and put away in the designated pallet location. For outgoing goods, full pallet loads and case quantity order picking and order assembly processes are undertaken using the Flexis.
"Once we had decided to use articulated forklift trucks we reviewed the various options that are available and had no hesitation in specifying Flexi," says Neil Simmonds. "I liked the compactness of the design and the fact that they are very well built in the UK. I was also impressed by the after sales service support that Narrow Aisle is able to provide and the fact that additional trucks can be supplied on short term rental to cover us at times when throughput spikes in our business."