In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the materials handling industry has seen a dramatic shift in its approach to providing solutions to businesses operating in the warehouse and logistics sector.
Historically, many companies operating in the sector were content to purchase forklift trucks and other equipment once a warehouse or distribution centre was complete. Now advances in technology and sophisticated new equipment means that materials handling providers can play a key strategic role in the development of new facilities right from the outset.
Such an integrated approach to providing materials handling solutions can result in long-term efficiency savings and leading the way in this field is Briggs Equipment, the national distributor of Yale Europe Materials Handling forklift trucks.
Thanks to its partnership with Yale, Briggs Equipment has strengthened its position as a leading provider of warehouse solutions, by developing a service that goes far beyond simply supplying and servicing forklift trucks.
Briggs ability to put together a complete turnkey warehouse package, from assisting in the planning of a new facility to the efficient management of the materials handling fleet once it is operational is a key asset to the company.
Briggs warehouse operations are led by Mark Murfet who explains: It is more important than ever for companies to get the most out of their assets and storage space, avoiding the risk and additional costs associated with using equipment that is not ideally suited to their unique working environment. We have invested heavily in putting together a service that can help them achieve this.
At the heart of what we offer is a state-of-the-art simulation package to help customers develop the most practical and efficient layout for their facilities. Utilising our expertise, we can advise on their operation so clients can make the most informed business decision.
The simulation software breaks down even the most complex warehouse operations into the finest level of detail. It also takes into account factors such as energy consumption, goods flow and order picking and replenishment regimes.
The simulators presentation is unique in that it shows an accurate representation of the warehouse, its day-to-day operations and the customers current or planned assets in situ, Mark continued.
It also demonstrates the real savings that can be made further down the line with the introduction of the latest Yale Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) equipment.
Using VNA equipment can reduce storage space by up to 40 per cent when compared to conventional counterbalance equipment (based on 2,500 pallet locations). Furthermore, a typical counterbalance truck operation sees the trucks spending 80 per cent of their time travelling between locations and just 20 per cent of the time lifting pallets into position. With VNA equipment this is reduced to an impressive 60/40 split, leading to significant increases in productivity.
One company to have recently benefited from this integrated approach to warehouse development is Senator International, the UKs largest manufacturer of office furniture equipment.
Over the past ten years the company has seen production of tables and desks increase significantly and it has needed to constantly expand and adapt its Lancashire-based production facilities. Most recently it invested in a new 6,480 sq m production and warehouse facility at its existing site at Huncoat, near Accrington and Briggs has been involved with its development from the earliest stages.
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.
Working together, Senator also specified the installation of 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.
Added Mark Murfet: By being involved in the warehouse design process, we can help clients to save hundreds of thousands of pounds by helping their operation achieve more with less space and a smaller materials handling fleet.
Equally importantly, this comprehensive approach can help to save valuable management time, by coordinating the whole process of developing the facility, from start to finish. Briggs offers a complete turnkey solution for customers. This means that we provide flooring, racking, lighting, forklifts, fleet management and full project management to ensure that the warehouse project is controlled under the HSE regulations.
Beyond this we can ensure that the warehouse facilities continue to operate smoothly and efficiently thanks to a national network of over 370 expert engineers, the latest high-tech monitoring systems and our industry expertise.