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The Lean Machines at Kaye Aluminium

A repeat order for a fleet of Combilift 4-way forklifts at Kaye Aluminium has confirmed the crucial contribution made by the initial consignment of trucks four years ago to the implementation of leaner operations at the company's Doncaster extrusion facilities. The Combilifts' versatility enabled the company to more than halve the number of forklifts used whilst at the same time maintain its considerable output and increase operational efficiency.

Part of the international EXL group, Kaye Aluminium is a leading UK provider of aluminium profiles for the building, electronic and automotive sectors and typical applications for its products include windows, doors, and ceiling systems. An impetus towards a more rationalised use of equipment and personnel as well as an increase in the size of incoming raw materials spurred a rethink of handling methods in 2000, which resulted in the company using four diesel powered Combilifts to replace five electric 4-way and three counterbalance forklifts.

Operations Manager Joe Jones explains the benefits of the slimmed down fleet: “The ability of the Combilifts to work inside and out, their sideways travel with long loads, their robust build and versatility enabled us to overcome in one go the issues we had with the former trucks: poor performance outside, down-time for battery charging and the need for elevated travel with long loads above machinery. The Combilifts had an immediate positive effect on operations which is why we have reordered.”

The trucks handle the product throughout all stages of the extrusion process, from offloading the 5 to 7m long packs of raw aluminium logs which weigh in at over 2.5 tonnes through to the handling of baskets of scrap left over from production. When logs are needed the Combilifts take them from the outside storage area and transport them sideways through a relatively narrow doorway. Once inside, they can be exactly positioned at the extrusion lines thanks to excellent manoeuvrability and the ability of the trucks to turn on their own axis. The trucks work in narrow aisles allowing compact storage of finished product in 6m
high racking bays, and the 4 tonne capacity easily lifts multiple loads of the 6m long
500kg stillages onto trucks for customer distribution.

The design and component layout of the Combilift range ensures long-life forklifts with an excellent low maintenance record, but this has been taken one step further at Kaye Aluminium by fitting an automatic engine shut down device which prevents unnecessary time clocking up should drivers be away from the forklift for more than a few minutes. Hydraulic fork spreaders were also recommended by Combilift to give extra stability to the length of loads carried.

Commenting on the current market situation, Joe Jones admits that: “You have to be one step ahead of the competition. Acquiring the Combilifts was the first decision made to accord to the new lean rationale, which saw us with fewer forklifts but higher efficiency. We have reliable, universal, multi- purpose trucks which run the show, and which will enable us to adapt quickly to possible changes in operation such as the introduction of a third shift if necessary.”

The Combilift range covers models with load capacities from 2.5 to 12 tonnes, with various power options and attachments. Design engineers at the Co. Monaghan manufacturing plant also offer a free warehouse layout service designed to show companies how to make the best possible use of their available storage space.

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