Rapidly loading 100 tonnes of premium stone – while preventing damage to the valuable cargo – is no mean feat. Doing it without reliable forklifts is virtually impossible. Essex-based logistics specialist SLi turned to Mitsubishi GRENDiA trucks, supplied by Bronze Mechanical Handling.
The company’s 7-acre distribution centre in Colchester is saving time and money – and expects to increase revenue – after purchasing the fleet of seven 2.5-tonne Mitsubishi GRENDiA FD25N trucks.
Every day, the site handles hundreds of expensive, heavy pallets of premium granite, quartz and other stone products, in addition to fulfilling SLi’s responsibilities as a major Palletways partner.
Like in any logistics distribution centre, SLi’s forklift movements at Colchester are characterised by intense bursts of activity, as the vehicles are unloaded and reloaded to a strict deadline.
With limited time to get the job done, and customer promises to keep every day, it’s the kind of work that puts forklift reliability under intense pressure. And SLi’s ageing, mixed-marque fleet had begun to cause fleet manager Russell Cox sleepless nights.
He explains: “We move in excess of 100 tonnes of stone in a few hours, so it’s very hard, intense work. Added to that there’s all the other kinds of freight we move through Palletways – sometimes 600 pallets in the morning, and the same again at night.
“There are no ifs, buts or maybes – the loads need to leave by 10 o’clock sharp – so if forklift breaks down at the wrong time it’s detrimental. But keeping our old trucks working was costing us more and more time and money.”
With LOLER Thorough Examinations looming, SLi decided instead to use the budget as down payment on an entirely new forklift fleet.
Protecting the load, the truck, and the driver
The new trucks would need to be strong enough to confidently handle two one-tonne pallets of stone, work reliably for long hours, and – importantly – carry the valuable cargo safely to tougher terrain at the rear of the SLi site.
Russell says: “Outside, it’s very rough terrain. The hardcore is wet and loose in the winter, and in the summer it’s hard and uneven, with aggressive dust. So the forklifts have their work cut out to keep the pallets in good condition, and deliver all year round.
“But we’re moving the highest quality granite, flint and quartz – the kind of thing you see on restaurant walls – so protecting that is important. A broken pallet is a pricey thing to have.”
SLi contacted Bronze Mechanical Handling. Managing director Joe Bronze visited the site, and suggested that the two trucks for outdoor work would benefit from pneumatic tyres, and retrofitted hydraulic accumulators to protect the load – and the truck’s components – from sudden shocks.
Russell agreed and, since switching to the new Mitsubishi forklifts Joe recommended, has noticed a marked decrease in pallet damage. And there was a further, unexpected bonus.
“Our drivers have really appreciated the new trucks,” Russell says. “They’re working harder without noticing it – one guy was enjoying his work so much he forgot to take his lunch break!”
Saving time and hassle – and growing revenue
Bronze responded quickly to SLi’s needs, supplying hire trucks to keep the company working safely and legally when the old fleet’s Thorough Examination certificates expired – and reacting within hours to any issues since.
Russell is impressed by the dealer’s service.
“Joe has been brilliant,” he says. “Compared to other suppliers we’ve worked with, it’s a breath of fresh air. Bronze have gone over and above what we could have expected – they react very, very quickly when we’ve needed them, which is a massive relief.”
And because all seven GRENDiA trucks have the same lifting capacity and triplex mast, Russell no longer has to handle the complexity of ensuring the driver is always using the right truck for the load and clearance height.
“In the past, matching the truck to the job was a constant problem. Now, I don’t have to worry about it; we don’t need extra training for the various truck types – and it’s a lot safer, because we don’t have the possibility that a driver will use the wrong truck.”
The new trucks are already delivering returns. One successfully completed 350 hours of work in its first seven weeks, and a three-year service contract with Bronze will save SLi valuable maintenance time, and ensure they stay in great shape for the future.
As a result, Russell saves time, money and headaches. And he believes the enhanced reliability will give SLi a lasting benefit on the bottom line.
He says: “We used to have to keep one lift truck spare, in case of breakdowns – which happened every few days. Our new trucks are working hard, all the time. And that means we can get our vehicles back on the road, faster – so they can spend less time waiting to be loaded, and more time out on delivery runs. Which means we can increase out revenue.”
“It used to be hard to keep calm every day,” Russell adds. “My job is a lot less stressful now.”
For more information on the GRENDiA FD25N range of diesel forklift trucks call the Mitsubishi Greenline on 0845 3713048 or visit www.mitsubishi-forklift.co.uk