Rapid lead times benefit Narrow Aisle
12 July 2019
The manufacturer says recent investment at its UK production facility in the Black Country means that delivery lead times for new Flexi trucks have been maintained at normal levels despite heavy demand.
Speaking at July’s Open Day at the site, John Maguire, Narrow Aisle’s managing director said: “There is no doubt that Brexit fears are prompting many businesses to hold more stock in their supply chain, which, in turn, is leading to something of a boom period for third party warehousing and food companies.
“As a result, sales of Flexi VNA reach trucks are at an all time high. Yet, in the majority of cases, we have been able to build and deliver new trucks in under 8 weeks from the date that an order is placed.”
“We benchmark our production performance against similar sized operations in our sector and we believe that our lead times compare very favourably.”
Narrow Aisle commenced a significant upgrade of its UK manufacturing facility at the start of 2019 designed to optimise in-bound logistics efficiency, quality management and lift mast assembly processes.
John Maguire says: “Our ability to respond to the demand for new fully configured Flexi trucks quickly gives us a commercial advantage and we have won significant orders in the past months not only as a result of the quality and drivability of our Flexi products, but because, thanks to our improved production efficiency, we are able to satisfy customers’ urgent need for new trucks.”
Narrow Aisle launched the Flexi LiTHiON range of lithium powered articulated reach trucks at CEMAT in spring.
John updated the Open Day attendees: “Electric is the power source for today’s warehouse (we phased out LPG and diesel a few years ago and lithium is a key product for the future. I didn’t expect lithium-ion take-up to be so high, due to the higher cost, but benefits such as zero maintenance are driving take up for customers.”
“Our use of the Zapi control system is key for the lithium product,” adds John. “It is imperative that the truck and the battery communicates well together in order to protect the very long term investment involved.”
With all drive, hydraulic and power-steering functions digitally controlled and integrated with the battery’s advanced software systems, the Flexi LiTHiON is able to perform at full power throughout a typical shift with no drop off in performance levels.
Models in Narrow Aisle’s Flexi LiTHiON range can operate safely and efficiently in aisles as narrow as 1.6 metres wide and can lift loads weighing up to 2.5 kg and to heights of 14 metres. Like all models in the Flexi range, they feature the well known easy to drive True Radius technology that allows the truck’s mast to rotate through 220 degrees smoothly.
The trucks in the Flexi ACiON battery power collection are described as a ‘tour de force’ in articulated lift truck technology.
“The development of digital multiplex control systems for our battery powered trucks’ key functions delivers a more integrated performance, and results in greater reliability and higher productivity combined with significantly reduced operating and maintenance costs,” says John.
Full digital control means that all models are ultra energy efficient: regenerative energy produced every time the truck’s mast is raised or lowered, as well as during forward and reverse travel and by movement of the steering wheel, feeds back to the battery to maximise the time the truck can perform for between battery changes or charges.
In addition, noise levels are significantly reduced and steering and mast control operations – whether using the lift/lower or sideshift functions – are carried out with optimum precision at all times.
But it is not just ‘under the bonnet’ where enhancements have been made: when developing the new Flexi ACiON electric range, Narrow Aisle’s design team sought to produce the ultimate ‘easy to drive’ driver-friendly articulated reach truck on the market.
John explains: “Our new digital ACiON range consumes up to 16% less battery energy on a standard work cycle. It has the potential to extend operational availability and significantly increase pallet load movements per shift.
“Operator diagnostics to aid security and fewer and simpler preventative maintenance visits per year will increase uptime and reduce maintenance costs across the range. Simple, easy to use diagnostics and a low-cost handheld service module allow engineers to rapidly identify any potential fault before it becomes a real problem.”
“The electric drive technology at the heart of our Flexi ACiON range builds on the design strengths that have established the Flexi as the world’s best-selling articulated forklift truck for nearly 30 years. But, we believe, we have taken the Flexi range to a new level of performance and efficiency that is unsurpassed in our sector.”
All aspects of operator visibility have been improved. For example, the trucks’ HiVis overhead guard has been redesigned and strengthened and its design reconfigured to ensure perfect upward visibility of both the forks and the load. The guard also features a soft grey finish that is proven by optometrists to be easy 'on the eye' to further aid the operator’s through vision.
Clear forward visibility is ensured by the use of specifically designed three- and four-stage lift masts which feature four lift cylinder technology that not only delivers full fork vision to make pallet entry easy driving forward but also provides class-leading lateral stability at all lift heights.
All models are fitted with fully adjustable premium Grammer seats – which, combined with the trucks’ adjustable steering column, reduce operator fatigue during even the longest shifts.