When GR Lane Health Products Ltd was looking for replacements for its ageing fleet of articulated forklifts, a critical issue was not only finding trucks that would fit the bill from a quality and performance point of view but which would also fit into very narrow pre-existing aisle widths. The company found the solution for the warehouse at its manufacturing facilities in Gloucester in the form of two narrow chassis 15E Aisle-Master models.
Gilbert Lane established GR Lane Health Products more than 80 years ago when he created a range of herbal medicines, supplements and other natural products. Still in family ownership, the company is a leading player in its sector and is well known for traditional products such as Olbas Oil, Kalms tablets and Jakemans sweets.
Expanding the premises would require a lot of arrangement; so to cope with growing demand and maximise use of space speedy, reliable materials handling is of the essence. This had been compromised by the old trucks, which Warehouse Manager Allistair Clarke admits were way past their sell by date, so the recommendation for Aisle-Masters from local dealership GB Forklifts was a welcome one.
“The trucks’ width of just 1030mm makes them a more comfortable fit in the 1900mm aisles as well as in some areas that are even tighter, and the over articulation of more than 90? offers better manoeuvrability and efficiency. It also gives more leeway when reversing, reducing the risk of damage to products and you can make slight adjustments position-wise when taking pallets out, which is particularly appreciated by new drivers,” said Allistair.
The trucks are used primarily inside for putting pallets, weighing up to 1t, containing raw materials such as drums of oils and packs of powders into the 6m high bays of racking which accommodate 1,900 pallet spaces. They then take them to the manufacturing, production, packaging and quality control areas when needed and also handle finished products in the despatch area where they negotiate some very confined spaces. Aisle-Masters are designed to be used indoors and out and on the occasions when they work outdoors at GR Lane they cope well with the uneven areas and gradients by the rear entrance.
Driver preference also played an important role in the choice of the Aisle-Masters, and Allistair remarks that the drivers were won over during trials as soon as they got into them. “They preferred the cab layout to other brands as it offers better visibility, especially when looking ahead. Even drivers with little experience were quick to learn the ropes, which is testament to how easy they are to operate.”
The warehouse operates at around 85% capacity and stock throughput is fast, being delivered just-in- time, so speedy handling is crucial, as is reliability. “We get all of this and more, such as long battery life and easy access for charging from our Aisle-Masters,” said Allistair, “we made the right choice.”
Aisle-Masters have capacities of up to 2.5 tonnes, and now offer lift heights of up to an impressive 15m, with a choice of AC electric or LPG power.
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