The UK’s favourite slimming club, Slimming World, has significantly improved handling and storage procedures at its headquarters in Alfreton after taking delivery of two Aisle-Master articulated forklifts. The vehicles will be used in the company’s newly built warehouse facility. Slimming World has experienced phenomenal growth recently – 40% year on year since 2008 – and the increased volume of marketing materials, books, newsletters, Slimming World Magazine and hi-fi cereal bars to support 3,000 franchised Consultants who run 8,000 groups resulted in the need for a new look at warehousing operations.
“We used to have a lot of off site storage”, explains Facilities Manager Paul James. “But as we had land available we decided to relocate everything under one roof. This has consolidated our ordering systems, reduced distribution costs and lowered our carbon footprint.” As Slimming World was starting with a clean sheet it consulted Kevin White from Langley Mechanical Handling to assist with getting the best specifications all round for optimum performance from the 1,400m² purpose built warehouse.
The choice of forklifts was obviously a key issue, and initial thoughts of a reach truck were discounted when Kevin demonstrated the advantages of the Aisle-Master. “We were won over by its versatility to work inside and out as well as the opportunity to save space,” says Paul. “Although we have ample pallet space at the moment we wanted to future proof our operations. The trucks’ ability to work in very narrow aisles means that even if growth continues at this rate we are assured of plenty of room.” The current pallet count of 1,600 is 30% up on what could have been achieved with reach trucks.
Slimming World despatches more than 400,000 parcels each year to Consultants across the British Aisles and Ireland. Materials range from display boards, leaflets and posters to recipe books, high fibre cereal bars and best selling Slimming World magazine. The Aisle-Masters work outside for on and off loading (often problematic with reach trucks due to their tyres) and can then drive directly into the narrow aisles to deposit pallets in the racking, which has a top height of 7.5m. The two AC electric powered trucks are the latest models to be developed by Aisle-Master’s parent company Combilift, featuring the new ergonomically improved cab and controls as well as “over articulation” which enables easy and accurate pallet placement when operating in extremely narrow aisles.
Aisle-Masters can work in aisles of just 1.75m, have capacities of up to 2.5 tonnes, lift heights of up to 12.5 metres, with a choice of AC electric or LPG power. Also new to the range is the narrow chassis 1,500 kg capacity 15E model, able to work in even tighter aisles for more space saving handling and storage. A parts warranty of 5 years or 5,000 hours now offers even more peace of mind for users and underlines the extreme reliability of the range.
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