The Commodity Centre Group is a dedicated commodity store and logistics specialist based in the UK and Northern Europe which handles over 200,000 tonnes of material a year. Seven Aisle-Master articulated trucks are working in a very fast paced environment at its HQ near Chelmsford in Essex, handling goods coming in from all over the world, which are destined for major supermarkets and repackaging plants.
Apricots from Turkey, peanuts from South America, cashew nuts from Vietnam and split peas from Australia are just some of the foodstuffs stored and shipped by the Commodity Centre, the leading company in its field, and the statistics behind its operations are impressive: 14 incoming containers are emptied and 500 pallets moved on a daily basis. The original fleet of Aisle-Masters was acquired in 2012 and has been deployed for pretty much every task in and around 180,000 square feet of warehousing with 20,000 pallet spaces, with each truck working for at least 12 hours a day. Once pallets have been offloaded they take them from the ground to the racking, lift into place – the 9m lift height coping easily with 1t pallets to the top beam of 7.5m – and pick again when needed to reload for despatch.
“Being on the go flat out during these long shifts coupled with the uneven surfaces and expansion joints that we have in the yard makes this a tough job for handling equipment,” said Director of Operations Dr. Andrew Sage. “The other two articulated brands we used in the past tired very quickly under these harsh conditions – in some instances showing noticeable signs of strain on the steering after just 18 months. The continued longevity of the Aisle-Masters after three years with only very minimal disruption is proving to be very impressive.”
The 20WHE electric powered models were recommended by Gary Millar of Armill Lift Trucks, the Commodity Centre’s materials handling suppliers for around 16 years. “The company wanted to stick with the narrow aisle articulated system which was adopted around 11 years ago to achieve optimum pallet density and faster loading times compared to counterbalance trucks, but were concerned about resilience,” said Gary. “Driver preference also played its part – during a demo of different makes they all opted for the Aisle-Master, citing good solid build, better visibility and a smoother ride as reasons.”
Ease of battery change was a further plus, but the original powerful 930 Ah batteries still offer a good seven or eight hours operation before being replaced with one of the four spares available to ensure constant availability of the entire fleet. Benefits of the incorporated Hoppecke trak® air system are long battery life, reduced requirement for top ups and therefore lower maintenance costs.
The contract hire package with Armill is good for both customer and dealer alike according to Gary Millar: “The Commodity Centre has peace of mind that if any issues do crop up we will take care of them, but the Aisle-Masters are very low maintenance we have had no need to carry out more than minor repair work on them – and this has been mainly down to the yard conditions in an application that is the most relentless I have seen in terms of potential wear and tear on forklifts.”
A new facility to create 5,000 more pallet spaces is planned to be opened in the next nine months or so, and should more trucks be required, Dr. Andrew Sage knows what he wants: “Aisle-Master’s track record means we will not be looking elsewhere for reliable and speedy handling equipment.”
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