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Trucks provide flexibility

12 December 2012

Crown tackles the storage requirements of Oxford University Press supplying order pickers and powered pallet trucks Oxford University Press (OUP) moved to a new distribution centre at ProLogis Park, Kettering, at the begi

Crown tackles the storage requirements of Oxford University Press supplying order pickers and powered pallet trucks Oxford University Press (OUP) moved to a new distribution centre at ProLogis Park, Kettering, at the beginning of 2011. This brought floor space up to a total of 410,000 sq ft. Crown Lift Trucks won the tender to supply a fleet of TSP 6000 VNA man-up order pickers supported by WT 3000 powered pallet trucks with operator platform. The new trucks also incorporate InfoLink - Crown's productivity management system.

OUP is not quite as straightforward as similar-sized commercial organisations. It publishes in more than 50 countries in a variety of languages, for all levels, and across virtually every academic discipline.

These facts are interesting from a distribution perspective, because it means that OUP has to hold a lot of stock that is very slow moving.

The former distribution base at Corby had two book stores operating with fixed cranes, one of which was coming to the end of its useable life.While this format was suitable when installed, the customer profile has changed dramatically over the last ten years, whereby customers can now call in and order just one sheet of music.

The new site needed to be more practical with room to grow.

The new distribution centre is an important part of OUP's operations. The current inventory stands at 28 million books and counting. Some 6.5 million books are dispatched each and every month with 500 tonnes of large orders packed and shipped weekly.

The warehouse is close to its former base at Corby, but its increased size and modern facilities give OUP greater flexibility and the opportunity to improve efficiency.

Operating with fixed cranes had many pitfalls, including pinch points in terms of storage and throughput. OUP decided to move to VNA man-up order pickers, allowing new trucks to be added as and when necessary.

The staff at OUP were heavily involved in the selection process.

OUP put together the required specification and asked manufacturers to tender. A shortlist was drawn up and OUP visited each manufacturer with a team of people which included truck operators, engineering staff and managers. Following a number of site visits and extensive testing, the Crown TSP 6000 and WT 3000 were chosen.

The TSP 6000 is said to be one of the most advanced VNA trucks available today.

Along with manoeuvrability, driver comfort was important to OUP, as one of the warehouse operators involved in selecting the truck, Graham Reed, explains: "I've been working at OUP for over eight years and coming away from the fixed cranes at our previous site was quite a change.When selecting the new fleet of VNA trucks, comfort was obviously a high priority. But the MoveControl seat gives easy access and maximum support over longer shifts.

"Of the manufacturers we looked at, the Crown TSP 6000 felt the most compact and easy to operate. The cabin is a very pleasant place to sit with great all-round visibility. In fact, I'd say it's the best VNA truck available today," Reed concludes.

OUP's fleet of TSP 6000 VNA order pickers and supporting WT 3000 powered pallet trucks have been equipped with InfoLink.

Crown's InfoLink System features wireless technology that allows users to identify the performance and productivity of each truck, facility and shift period in real-time. Insightful reports help reduce paperwork and simplify fleet management, saving both time and money.

"At our old site, our engineering team logged data manually using spreadsheets," says Elwyn Roberts, infrastructure manager for OUP, adding: "InfoLink allows us to collect far more data, much more efficiently, and the accompanying FleetStats software presents reports in a clear and easy to understand format. This fleet management system provides us with greater discipline and helps us to ensure best practice is always carried out." By using FleetStats in conjunction with InfoLink, Crown can offer customers an array of information on the true operational costs within their business. In fact, because the system operates in real time, customers can see the cost of damage to each truck as and when an impact occurs before they've been invoiced.

With 200 or so people operating within the warehouse and a further 100 working in onsite offices, the new Kettering distribution centre is an important move for OUP, as Roberts explains: "Not only do we have more space here, we have a flexible site that should prove beneficial for future operations. The new Crown fleet has added to this flexibility, bringing with it enhanced productivity and greater efficiency."