Quicker down the aisles

Dudley’s Aluminium has improved the productivity and efficiency of its materials handling at its manufacturing facility and storage unit with the recent delivery of a second Combilift multidirectional forklift.

The Cardiff-based company specialises in the fabrication of architectural aluminium and offers full in-house design and production of aluminium curtain walling, windows and shop fronts, which are used in projects in the education, health and commercial sectors across the UK.

Recent growth in business necessitated a rethink of handling and storage procedures for incoming raw materials and finished products.

Assistant production manager Geraint Bowden said:“We realised we needed to streamline this aspect of our business, and together with advice from Combilift and racking suppliers Wickens, we designed a new storage facility based around the capabilities of a Combilift fitted with guide rollers for guided aisle operation.”

Stillages of incoming extrusions from suppliers such as Kawneer had previously been stacked on top of each other, making the retrieval of any specific stillage a time-consuming procedure. With around 700m² of storage space and 6m high racking, the new facility can accommodate 336 stillages, each stored in a logged bay, making placing, locating and picking individual stillages quicker and more productive.

“What used to take 15 or 20 minutes can now be done in just a minute or two, so this is a much better use of man hours,” Geraint said.

Dudley’s Aluminium originally switched to the multidirectional concept when it acquired its first Combilift C3000 13 years ago. Having clocked up thousands of hours since, it is still on the go.

The advantages of the company’s first Combilift – manoeuvrability, tight turning circle and versatility – are all evident in the new C3000, but the guide rollers also enable it to operate in aisle widths of just 2.1m in the new storage unit.

Both LPG-powered trucks work as universal pieces of equipment in the fabrication workshop, inside and out and for offloading and loading HGVs. They handle the 4m to 6.6m stillages – up to 40 a day – as well as palletised loads of windows and, with added fork extensions, they also lift longer packs of curtain walling weighing up to around 2 tonnes.

“We don’t occupy a massive site here,” Geraint said, “so maximum storage density was crucial. The advice and recommendations from David Vuagniaux of Combilift and the layouts the company provided enabled us to triple the amount of available storage, and the ability of the trucks to work in tight spaces around HGVs in the yard avoids bottlenecks. Our first truck has definitely earned its keep and I have no doubt that the new one will too.”