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Adapting to varied needs

08 June 2015

Furniture brands Fab&Fix, ERA and EWS are part of Grouphomesafe and the volume of materials handled by the companies requires streamlined handling and optimum storage capacity.

Five Aisle-Master articulated forklifts are deployed to guarantee this. The trucks have replaced older articulated forklifts at ERA’s facility in Willenhall and at EWS in Wolverhampton, with Fab&Fix in Coventry using the Aisle-Master instead of a counterbalance forklift. 

"The individual requirements at each site differed slightly,” said group warehousing manager Peter Taylor, "But common to all were the need for reliable trucks with long battery life, better driver visibility, and indoor and outdoor capability even in bad weather.”

Due to height constraints at ERA’s 14,000ft² warehouse, racking is just 4.4m high so aisles need to be particularly tight to exploit the available storage capacity. The three Aisle-Masters at this site are the new narrow head 1.5t capacity 15E models, which can manoeuvre pallets easily in the 1700mm rack to rack space.

The 4-wheeled configuration of this model with front two-wheel drive enables very stable operation compared to the three wheeled design of other articulated brands. This offers better traction underneath the load and is of great benefit for combined indoor/outdoor operation.

With more room to manoeuvre at EWS the company uses a standard 20SE Aisle-Master in its 20,000ft² facilities, and speed of operation is a key factor here as Peter points out: "In a fast moving environment where we are constantly lifting loads of up to 1.5t to the top beam of 9m, the machine’s quick and smooth mast elevation is an advantage, as is the speed of cornering.” 

At Fab&Fix’s distribution centre in Coventry a standard narrow chassis 15E operates mainly indoors, placing and picking pallets of finished products prior to dispatch to window and door manufacturers.

When deciding on replacement trucks, Peter set great store on the opinion of his drivers: "It is very important to me that drivers are involved and ultimately the choice is up to them,” he said. "Following a demo the Aisle-Master proved to be an instant hit, and I am now assured of satisfied drivers who appreciate their trucks and look after them well, which is also financially beneficial. We now have versatile, universal trucks in operation which work a long shift without the need for recharging batteries so they keep up with demand across the three sites and contribute to a safer working environment.”

The five trucks are on a full maintenance lease contract with Compact Fork Trucks and from a dealership point of view the Aisle-Masters come with a great deal of advantages as Compact’s Nick Bevan explains: "The trucks have a reputation for unrivalled reliability and the five year warranty from the manufacturers means that we can pass this confidence in the product onto our customers."