Unlocking handling potential

Assa Abloy has used two Aisle Master articulated forklifts from Combilift to ensure efficient storage and handling procedures at its Cheltenham site for the past two years.

It also more recently took delivery of a Combi-CS pedestrian counterbalance stacker, which works mainly in one of the manufacturing areas.

The Cheltenham facility specialises in the production of metal hardware for windows such as hinges, locks and handles, and comprises manufacturing and assembly areas together with two storage bays for components and finished products.

The Aisle Masters were brought in on the advice of Mike Oseland of Briggs Equipment, who recognised that these could help to cut the overall number of pieces of MHE required on site. Their ability to work inside and out, for example, means that they can replace a combination of reach and counterbalance forklifts, and can offload deliveries and bring goods directly into the racking.

This has been particularly beneficial in the finished goods store during very busy times and, coupled with the trucks’ narrow aisle capability, has enabled extra space to be created within the building to incorporate a test laboratory without impacting negatively on storage capacity.

Aisle widths between bays that were once 3.1m wide to allow access for reach trucks were narrowed down to just 1.9m. In the component storage area, the 15NE (1.5-tonne narrow electric) models can work in existing aisle widths of just 1.73m, picking Europallets of raw materials weighing up to one tonne to a height of 6m, which are then taken to the shop floor.

Planning and distribution manager Ian Griffiths said the old trucks were prone to breaking down, so the reliability of the Aisle Masters has avoided the inconvenience of down-time. The blue spot and red zone warning lights fitted to both trucks also ensure maximum safety.

The drivers appreciate the manouevrability and good visibility from the cab, according to store supervisor Danny Organ.

The Combi-CS also gets top marks from tooling technician Carl Strout, one of the six operators of this compact pedestrian truck, which is used primarily to exchange the bolster plates on the tooling presses.

“It’s the best bit of kit we’ve had here for the job,” he said. “Training on it was straightforward; it’s simple to operate and all-round visibility makes for easy handling of loads. It’s also multi-purpose: I have used it for other lifting jobs and to change the flywheel on the back of a machine too.”

The Combi-CS, with 1,000kg capacity, replaced a conventional forklift and was recommended by Mike Oseland following the successful introduction of a Combilift pedestrian model at one of Assa Abloy’s other sites.

“These stackers are a great alternative to ride-on forklifts as they can manoeuvre much more easily around narrow confines such as those between the presses and other workstations here on site,” he said. “Operation at walking speed enhances health and safety, particularly in busy manufacturing areas where a lot of personnel are in the vicinity. The patented tiller arm on these models also ensures that operators can stand to the side of the machine to avoid any crush risk when they are working in tight spaces.”

Ian Griffiths said: “We are currently developing new products and therefore expect to grow, so having space-saving, efficient and reliable equipment in place from the one supplier, Briggs, as well as the long-term rental and maintenance agreement, enables streamlined and fuss-free handling operations.”