Furniture Village extended the racking of its 100,000 sq ft national NDC in Milton Keynes to make full use of the building’s height. The company then sought a forklift truck supplier to provide trucks that could cope with the demands of its busy warehouse.
As an existing supplier of forklifts at two of Furniture Village’s satellite warehouses, Atlet, along with four other suppliers, was invited to bid.
Group warehouse manager Andy Long says: "We are now moving heavy furniture at heights of over 11 metres so needed trucks that would meet our health and safety requirements to ensure driver safety and comfort.”
Long explains his selection criteria. "Out of all the suppliers we approached, Atlet was the only one that really took the time to understand what we were trying to achieve. Matt Prentice, Atlet’s dedicated Furniture Village account manager looked in a lot of detail and talked us through various options to give us the best solution possible.”
Atlet has supplied Furniture Village with one ET-15 counterbalance truck, three Tempo PPL low level order pickers and three of its new generation heavy-duty reach trucks, the Tergo UHX.
Designed to perform almost any heavy-duty 24/7 material handling task, the UHX is the ideal reach truck for extremely high stacking. It provides the ideal solution for Furniture Village’s demanding operations, as Prentice explains: "The reach truck is extremely stable at height due to the strength of the mast and smoothness of the controls.”
Improved battery change
As part of its proposal Atlet suggested introducing a new battery change area. Improving a warehouse’s battery change can not only reduce battery changeover times, but also increase vehicle uptime and help achieve a more efficient deployment of manpower.
Furniture Village was opportunity charging during shifts which was bad for battery life. Atlet provides complete end-to-end design, manufacture and installation services for battery handling applications, and designed and installed a space track system for the reach trucks and a transfer track system for the pickers. Not only is it a lot safer, but is has significantly improved Furniture Village’s operational efficiency.
Andy Long says: "We took Atlet’s advice and now have a dedicated battery change area where batteries are simply changed quickly and easily. It is far safer, much less labour intensive and has considerably improved productivity.”
Furniture Village takes the comfort and safety of its drivers very seriously and has been delighted with the response Atlet’s trucks have received. Andy Long reports: "Atlet’s trucks are far more comfortable and user friendly than our previous models. Our drivers are happy to sit for a lot longer, which has again had a positive impact on operational efficiency.”
To improve safety Atlet advised fitting a camera monitoring system to each reach truck. Picking and putting heavy furniture away at heights of up to 12 metres requires considerable accuracy and the cameras enable the drivers to see what they are doing close up, without straining their necks. Long says: "The cameras have helped with accuracy and also stock identification as we can use them to check stock codes.”
The trucks are also fitted with a keypad which enables Furniture Village to allocate trucks to drivers. Andy adds: "The system is really useful as it means we can give a driver a dedicated truck and then assess and cost out the efficiency of people and picks.”
Atlet prides itself on its personal approach and providing customers with a single point of contact is an important part of its customer service. Furniture Village’s account manager keeps in regular contact with its warehouse managers to ensure the fleet is working at optimum efficiency and any proposed changes to operations are managed. Andy Long comments: ”I really valued the amount of time and considered approach Atlet put into understanding our requirements. It was invaluable in helping me choose the right equipment. It’s also really helpful to have just one point of contact to address all my needs at any time.”
"Atlet has worked hard to establish a very good working relationship with us. We feel very well looked after and in capable hands. Its trucks have improved operational efficiency and health and safety at our NDC and I’m confident that as we continue to grow, our partnership with Atlet will grow too."