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Translift Bendi’s unique sideloader forklift

transforms warehouse efficiency for Action Storage. By choosing an articulating sideloader forklift from Translift Bendi, of Redditch, Action Storage has transformed its Milton Keynes warehouse efficiency in ways that no other forklift could have achieved.

Operating from its current, 12,000 ft2 site since July 2004, the company (www.action-storage.co.uk) has been supplying storage solutions for 22 years, using its own installation teams. Much of its business is for shelving out high street retailers across Europe, often helping them to save storage space with hand-operated, mobile shelving and so enlarge their retail selling space. The company also stocks its own range of eXtreme plastic lockers, for placing indoors or outdoors in damp or wet conditions, as found on oil rigs.

Smart marketing, however, had led to unexpected growth for the company's range of pallet racking, shelving and lockers, and as so often happens in such circumstances the company was faced with the possibility of an expensive move to larger premises. Another costly solution would have been to rent offsite warehousing but easily the cheapest and least disruptive was for Action Storage to practice what it preached by rearranging its racking and shelving within its existing storage area. But even this sensible approach had its potential pitfalls if the wrong type of forklift had been chosen.

The company had been using two different types of forklift: a conventional counterbalance truck for pallets and an old, rented, four-way reach truck for long loads, which had reached the end of its useful life. The aisle widths had been over 3.6 mt wide so there was plenty of potential to reduce their widths by changing to the right kind of forklift.

Action Storage could have chosen a dedicated, very narrow aisle (VNA) truck for its pallets, but as the company's MD, Tom Brialey, explained, there would have been the additional cost of wire or rail guidance and a space penalty because such trucks need ample manoeuvring space at aisle ends. They are also cumbersomely slow, costly to buy and run, entirely unsuited to outdoor work and difficult to move to other premises when business conditions change.

Of the three contenders for the truck contract, two suggested a two-truck solution. Only Translift Bendi could offer a one-truck solution because its unique sideloader trucks allows support of 5-mt long lengths of steel on decks either side of the truck and its forks, which swivel 180 deg independently of its two, close-coupled front steering wheels. This ability is a great advantage over conventional sideloaders, which can load only on one side of the truck and so mean that they must egress and ingress the aisles each time if they want to access loads on the opposite side of the aisle. Another comforting factor swinging the contract in Translift's favour was its well-established , nationwide network of service engineers formed when B&Q began to equip most of its stores with Bendis nationwide.

Action Storage has three distinct storage areas for its 1,500 SKUs range. These include a 30-mt run of cantilever racking for its long sections of steel, decked-out adjustable pallet racking for conventional pallets, and a shelving area on ground floor and mezzanine for staff and student lockers.

By reducing the cantilever racking aisle width to 2.5 mt and the pallet racking aisles to 2 mt, the company gained an extra 125 pallet positions, or a 25% increase, and the right choice of articulating truck also saved the cost of an extra forklift.

There are, however, so many other ways that the Bendi saves money and raises productivity. Its remarkable versatility means it can, and does, work out in the yard loading and unloading delivery lorries as a back up to the old, remaining counterbalance truck. Accidental damage would also be less because the Bendi gives a much better view of loads when interfacing with the racking and there is no rear end swing common with other truck types.

All this means that the Bendi's payback exercise is remarkable. As Tom Brialey explained: “If you really want to look at the payback just look at how much its costs to move buildings. This truck will have comfortably paid for itself within a year,” he said. In fact, the purchased Bendi could deliver a much shorter payback if Action Storage decides to close down some offsite storage, which it may still need if its decides to take on two new product lines. These are for two ranges of staff lockers, one of which would be for storing and charging lap top computers for use in schools and offices.

Equipped with flashing light and reversing bleeper, the Bendi sideloader can lift 900 kg to 6 mt at 600 mm load centres. All three Bendi-trained drivers use paper pick lists and are delighted with the truck's driving ease. When the warranty expires next year, the company will take out a comprehensive truck maintenance scheme.

Summing, up, Tom says: ” I was pleased with the attention I got from Translift but more importantly I feel that we are far better organised since we got this truck. When we move to another building, that Bendi will come with us because we know that it will operate anywhere.”

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