Briggs Equipment has played a pivotal role in the success of the UKs largest manufacturer of office furniture equipment, Senator International, which has seen production of tables and desks increase significantly over the past ten years. To keep up with demand for its products, Senator has needed to constantly expand and adapt its Lancashire-based production facilities and throughout a decade of sustained growth it has relied on Briggs to provide materials handling solutions that ensures productivity is maintained and improved.
The latest development at Senator is the opening of a new production and warehouse facility at its existing site at Huncoat, near Accrington. Here the company manufactures a wide range of office chairs and related products. One of the companys six sites across the UK, the Huncoat plant, has been designed from scratch to provide a more streamlined production process.
Key to the success of the 6,480 sq m facility has been the introduction of the latest Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) trucks from Yale, supplied by Briggs as part of an ongoing supply and maintenance contract.
The MTC man-up turret truck from Yale Europe Materials Handling is technically advanced with simultaneous, independent and proportional hydraulic control. This makes it both fast and smooth to operate, vitally important for operator confidence at height and for increasing picking speed. It can pick at heights of up to 17metres one of its unique features that is market leading. Additionally, the regenerative braking and lowering help to maximise the period between charging, reducing costs and CO2 emissions whilst maximising productivity.
Mark McDonnell, Senator Stores Manager, explained: As well as supplying the VNA trucks, Briggs and Yale played an important role in the development of the facility. Together they spent a lot of time researching and sourcing the best flooring.
For a successful VNA operation, the correct flooring is a critical component if the equipment is to operate safely and efficiently at maximum speeds.
Mark went on to explain how the four new VNA machines are required to move and store around 1,000 pallets every week and service 9,932 pallet locations across the new site. These pallets contain the components and raw materials needed for the manufacture of the companys chair products. Once they have been unloaded, they are moved to the storage section of the facility before being fed onto the on-site production line.
For the operation Briggs came up with a solution that maximised available storage space, which has racking to a height of around 11.4 metres whilst ensuring pallet movements are carried out safely and efficiently.
Tony Worrall, Key Account Manager at Briggs Equipment said we have supplied Senator with four market-leading Yale MTC trucks that boast a number of significant built-in safety features. The system we developed also uses RFID tags in the floor coupled with an advanced control system within the trucks. This not only provides more confidence for the operator but also allows more control of operations in the aisles.
The RFID system provides control of the truck at the ends of the aisle, giving the operator greater confidence in operating at a higher speed when in the aisle. At the pick-and-drop end of the aisle, the operator knows the truck will slow and stop in the same place. This allows pallets to be placed or picked more efficiently and increases safety at the end of the aisle. The system also controls the truck at the blind end of the aisle, assisting the operator in keeping the truck away from a firewall, increasing stop clearance when the operator and truck are facing the opposite way along the aisle. Lift height limits are also controlled, per-aisle with the RFID system.
Additional features of the Yale RFID system include the ability to control speed within a specific area of a specific aisle. The floor is extremely good at Senator, but other facilities not so equipped will benefit from targeted speed reductions in problem areas which would reduce the likelihood of damage to the rack, floor or truck. The system slows the speed in the problem area and then allows higher speeds elsewhere, improving productivity and operator confidence. Along the same lines, the system can also be programmed to ensure lift limit heights are set around an obstacle, such as lighting, heating or building structure.
The advanced wire guidance system of the Yale MTC enables large acquisition angles during wire pickup and the operator can even take his hand off the wheel and the truck will guide itself in. As well as saving time and correctly positioning the truck to access an aisle, the system also reduces the risk of damage to racking. The unique antenna and system design of the Yale MTC wire guidance also allows the VNA to run at speeds of 12 Km/h when in-aisle.
Other key benefits of the Yale MTC equipment includes the ability to operate in aisles as narrow as 1470mm and lift weights of up to 1,500kg to a height of more than 15m.
Mark continued: The new Yale VNA has been very well received by the operators who appreciate the extra comfort and ease of operation. They have been particularly impressed by the open front design that gives them an unobstructed view of the area they are operating in. Although it is still early days, we are already seeing a significant improvement in terms of efficiency and the whole production process operates productively.
Whilst the specification, performance and reliability of the VNA trucks have impressed Senator, they were not the sole reason that the company continues to work so closely with Briggs.
Across its six manufacturing and distribution sites, Senator operates a fleet of more than 50 forklift trucks, a fleet that has increased in size alongside the companys growth.
Briggs has provided the flexibility that we have needed, expanding their service to us in-line with our own development, Mark said. At key stages in our expansion they have provided the most appropriate materials handling solution. More importantly, the after sales service from Briggs has been exceptional. We have our own dedicated engineer who is on hand at all times to deal with any problems at any of our facilities and his knowledge of our business helps to keep things running smoothly.
Moving forward, the company is now replacing its existing fleet with the very latest Yale equipment.
Over the past decade, Briggs has been more than just a supplier, it has been a real partner that understands the needs of our business and tailors its services to meet those requirements, added Mark.