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Overview of the Hubtex EZK 20 Barge

This is a story of innovation and problem solving that may have great benefits within those Industries that need to hand pick long loads. It explains the changes that have taken place at IDS using a truck that is unique to the UK.

IDS approached Hubtex in 2004 at the IMHX Show at the NEC and saw a few photos on their stand that seem to be similar to what they were looking for, that being a better way to pick with two men, long, heavy and awkward worktops with ease from any height, a challenge in itself. They traditionally picked worktops in bulk, bring that stack of worktops down, take off what they wanted and put the rest back. It was thought that improvements to safety, productivity and product care could be made with the truck, affectionately know as The Barge.

The vast majority of Hubtex business is traditionally focused on the multidirectional electric sideloader market but it is from their market leading position that they have become a great innovator in this area, that being all aspects of handling long and difficult loads.

After two visits to see similar trucks in Germany and Belgium, IDS requested a detailed quotation and price, and the 2 trucks were ordered through Linde Contract Management and supplied on a Rental Agreement. IDS is part of the St Gobain Group who use Linde service throughout.

When the trucks were installed in April this year, there was a steep learning curve for everyone. IDS operatives had to be trained to operate the truck and learn a completely different way to pick product. Linde engineers were given in-depth training to enable them to service and maintain the trucks. Within a few weeks of installation, it was clear that the decision to change the operation was a wise one. The list below shows the main benefits of the Barge trucks;

Designed to fit in their existing aisles and are wire guided, with Laser Scanners on each end of the truck that can detect other warehouse traffic and operatives.
Product can be picked from either side of the aisle.
The majority of product is picked at waist height, very comfortable for the operatives.
The truck will only function if both operatives are within the confines of the platform.
AC Motors and a battery changeover facility ensure that the truck offers the best uptime possible for their requirements (this is a 24 hour a day operation).

In summary of the above, the Hubtex EZK20 while making life much easier for the operator, makes him a happier and safer employee. This has lead to improvements in productivity, safety and better levels of product care.

IDS have also contributed to improved safety levels on the truck by installing an innovative restraint feature that ensures the drivers are at all times connected to the platform. This design may feature on future Hubtex trucks.

The potential market for the Hubtex EZK truck is relatively small but as this truck has the ability to vastly improve the working practices of companies picking long product, it is a very important one. If Hubtex can play their part in improving safety alone within the Materials Handling Industry, the benefits could be enormous.

Jim Hammond
Hubtex (UK) Ltd

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