Problem solved

26 February 2013

Hubtex tackles awkward load handling issue for building company and makes safety top priority

Sapa Building System is a member of the worldwide Sapa Group, which has over 14,600 employees and develops and markets high valueadded profiles in aluminium.

Backed by the resources of the Group, Sapa Building System offers architects and specifiers a wide range of innovative aluminium systems for curtain walling, doors, windows and specialist applications. The first priority of the Sapa Group is to provide safe and healthy workplaces for all the employees, with the long-term target of avoiding all injuries, incidents and occupational ill health. This was a major consideration for Sapa Building System when they moved into new premises, and one of the main reasons that Hubtex UK was the preferred choice to provide a handling solution.

The 116,000 sq ft premises in Tewkesbury Business Park will provide scope for future expansion as the company prepares to celebrate 50 years in business next year and will enable Sapa to maintain its prime location, with excellent communications and access to the whole of the UK.

The move allowed the company to merge its two existing operations in Gloucestershire into a single site, so it was important to implement a safe and efficient handling and storage solution that would allow for further expansion but as Sapa Building System operations director Nigel Eley explains, it led to a complete change in the way the product was handled.

"Aluminium bars, in 5m and 7m lengths, were delivered in stillages and then taken out individually and stored vertically. It was a space efficient way of storing the product but we were concerned about possible health and safety issues and double handling meant that it was labour intensive. We also needed a more efficient stock identification system." Hubtex was well known to the Sapa Group, after successfully supplying materials handling equipment to sites throughout Europe, so after a number of third party site visits and in-depth planning meetings the decision was taken to store the product horizontally in stillages and in a 10m high purpose built narrow aisle racking system using Hubtex MQ40 multi-directional electric sideloaders.

The MQ40 is compact and highly manoeuvrable and, like all products from Hubtex, can be tailored to suit customers' specific needs both from an operational point of view and health and safety. The comfortable, ergonomic driver's cab offers more room for the operator, optimum all round vision and an innovative joystick for all controls, but it was the ability to design and build the truck to meet with the requirements of Sapa that really made the difference.

"Handling 7m stillages in narrow aisles up to a height of 10m means that all available safety features and efficiency enhancements had to be considered," says Nigel. "We completed a detailed risk and operational analysis and identified main areas for consideration." One of these was operating in narrow aisles, especially after the company had been used to conventional forklifts.

Visibility when accessing the stillages at height as well as of pedestrians on site was another issue.

"As a result, Hubtex built trucks that perform beyond our expectations and allow us to safely facilitate the efficient material flow and turnover of our products," concludes Nigel.

In addition, all Sapa operators had extensive onsite driver training, provided by Hubtex, prior to the site going live thus ensuring safety and efficient handling from day one.