Ever increasing demand for one of Ireland’s most popular liquid refreshments, Magners Cider, has led to rapid expansion of the company’s Clonmel site in Co. Tipperary. Keeping the supplies flowing is crucial, and Magners has chosen a fleet of eight Aisle-Master articulated forklifts which work in the bottling plants as well as in the finished goods warehouses to ensure a streamlined handling, storage and distribution process.Until a few years ago, counterbalance forklifts and drive-in racking were used, but the massive increase in popularity of the Magners brand around the world and the resulting increase in output meant Logistics Operations Manager Raymond Galligan needed to rethink operations to come up with a much more space saving and efficient method. He explains: “We had to maximise our warehouse space.
Aisle widths with the counterbalance forklifts were 4m, and we knew we could improve on this. By introducing a combination of a new warehouse management system, the Aisle-Master forklifts, racking and much narrower narrow aisle widths designed around the trucks capabilities, we have vastly improved storage density and product location. The Aisle-Masters have enabled us to achieve a 50% increase in storage capacity, so have saved us money as there is no need to buy extra storage space.”
The versatility of the Aisle-Masters means they are used throughout the complete handling process, from unloading pallets of empty bottles through to reloading 80 to 100 lorry loads a day with pallets of filled bottles for distribution to markets around the world. Five trucks with 10.5m masts are designated for the three bottling plants, which can each fill 55,000 bottles an hour. These trucks are fitted with cameras to aid drivers when picking from the very high racks. The other three Aisle-Masters with 8.5m masts work across the 3 warehouses which have a total of 28,000 pallet spaces. With such a workload, it is vital that Magners can count on reliable operation. Raymond Galligan and Warehouse Manager Michael Gavin are happy to report that in spite of long working hours there have never been any problems with the Aisle-Masters. LPG power means they can be filled up quickly with no down time for battery charging, which is of major benefit at times of peak activity in the summer months when the trucks work round the clock. Raymond also praises the excellent advice and support received from materials handling specialist Suirway Forklifts during the implementation of the new system and for ongoing service provision.
Compared to the old counterbalance trucks, the Aisle-Masters have brought a host of advantages to both drivers and management at the plant. Drivers find loading and offloading easier, and appreciate the extra comfort offered by the closed cab option taken up by Magners which protects them from the assortment of weather they have to cope with in this part of Ireland. The versatility and manoeuvrability of the trucks has also led to significantly less damage to product and quicker operations overall as no double handling is involved. The system in place is now more than ready to take on the demands of a thirsty clientele in Magners’ growing markets.
The Aisle-Master range can work in aisles of just 1.75m, with capacities up to 2.5 tonnes and lift heights of up to 12.5 metres, with electric models also available. The trucks are designed and manufactured at the company’s headquarters in Monaghan, Ireland, where build quality and reliability feature high on the agenda. All the fundamental aspects of the Aisle-Master’s design, from the overhead guard for enhanced driver protection, the ergonomics of the controls, down to the high quality seating, guarantee the optimum level of operator safety and comfort.