Articulated forklift helps cut aisle widths

Published:  08 July, 2011

Ireland’s largest independent Temperature control and logistics company, Castlecool, has seen a marked increase in available storage space at its Castleblayney facility since it took delivery of an Aisle-Master articulated forklift.

Operating from three sites in the North East of the country, Castlecool offers a wide range of services such as chilled, frozen and ambient storage, blast freezing, quality testing and food sampling. The company previously used reach trucks to service the racking in the 200,000 ft² warehouse in Castleblayney, but a changeover to the articulated system has enabled aisle widths to be cut, adding 25% to Castlecool’s storage capacity.

“The costs incurred per ft² in cold stores make space saving absolutely crucial to productive operations”, says managing director Paul Shortt: “and as we had experience of an Aisle-Master at another site we were keen to adopt this system at the Castleblayney facility. It was some time ago since we acquired the original machine so we trialed the major brands of articulated trucks on the market, but found that the Aisle-Master still outperforms the competition, particularly in terms of reliability.”

 Before the truck was delivered, Paul took advantage of Aisle-Master’s free site survey and warehouse layout service which was particularly beneficial: “the engineers’ drawings demonstrated that we would be able to operate in 30% narrower aisles and therefore achieve the best possible pallet density.” A further benefit is the truck’s flexibility to work both inside and out, which has led to much quicker loading and offloading, speeding up operations all round. The ability to offload HGV’s from both sides is a real bonus when the company is working at full capacity, in the run up to Christmas for example.         

The lack of any need for back up has also enabled Castlecool to make substantial savings, as Paul explains: “The Aisle-Masters have such a good track record of dependability that we can operate in full confidence without back up trucks in place. If there is an issue – which is rare, the response from the service department is so quick that this can be resolved with the minimum of delay.”

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. A 20SE AC electric powered Aisle-Master fitted with an 8m customised mast was specified as the most suitable model for the Castleblayney site. The cold-store environment can be unforgiving on equipment, quickly draining batteries for example, but the batteries fitted in Castlecool’s Aisle-Master are more than powerful enough to counteract this, and other cold-store specific features have been incorporated to ensure streamlined operation throughout long shifts in temperatures of around - 22°C (cold-store spec Aisle-Masters will work in temperatures of up to - 40°C).


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Head: Batteries go four-high


Motive power specialist EnerSys Motive Power is now supplying four-tier battery banks which reduce significantly the footprint of lift truck battery change and charge operations, facilitate easy maintenance and maximise operational safety. The battery tiers are serviced by an all electric-powered battery changing cart, the EnerSys Pro-Series Battery Bull BBE.

 "The four-high battery bank is a natural development for larger operations which demand maximum flexibility”, says David Smith of EnerSys Motive Power. "Not all our customers go straight to the top level, but instead build a battery room which can be extended at any time in the future without poaching any additional operational floorspace."

By building in the extra capacity EnerSys four-tier battery banks allow for easy maintenance with maximum safety. Engineers can operate safely, without disrupting normal warehouse operations, while a proportion of the battery bank is taken offline.  The new design incorporating all electric drives for lift & travel eliminates the use of hydraulics used in previous models.  This simplified system means easier service & maintenance.

The Pro-Series BBE which services the battery racks is a semi-automated all electric powered change cart.  It runs on concealed rails alongside rows of chargers. When a change is required, the truck approaches the changing area, the battery is disconnected and a trained member of staff completes the change.  The BBE extracts the battery from the truck onto its on-board roller bed using a powerful extending electro-magnet and then pushes the battery into place for charging. Batteries on the second, third and fourth levels of the charging bank are handled in the same way. Changing batteries is a quick and simple one-man job which can be accomplished in around 90 seconds.  


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