Leading Irish chilled convenience food manufacturer Nature’s Best had a lot on its plate towards the end of 2008 when it won a major contract which initiated the move to a new warehouse. The resulting need to pack as many pallet spaces as possible into the space available was catered for by using an AC electric powered Aisle-Master articulated forklift.
Nature’s Best supplies major supermarket multiples across the country with its own-label and branded products, and the new contract with Boyne Valley Foods represented a considerable increase in the volume of product handled at the company’s Drogheda site. The previous system comprising a counterbalance forklift used in an open plan warehouse was clearly not going to provide adequate storage density.
Transport and Logistics Manager Ciaran Finn and Maintenance Manager Anthony Carolan contacted Aisle-Master’s Damien Murray after reading a company newsletter, and saw the Aisle-Master in operation at other customers in the area. They immediately recognised the truck’s potential, as Ciaran explains: “Rather than having to build an extension or move some of our storage outside, we realised that we would be much better off with the Aisle-Master, as its articulated design and manoeuvrability lends itself perfectly to space saving and more productive operation.” Quality was also a deciding factor according to Anthony: “We looked at other brands of articulated forklifts, but the Aisle-Master is way superior in terms of design quality and reliability. The service back-up is also excellent, and since we have had the truck we have never looked back!”
Basing aisle-widths and racking layout on the capabilities of the Aisle-Master has yielded 600 pallet spaces, compared with a total of just 235 that could have been achieved with a counterbalance truck. “This perfectly illustrates that you do not need to be operating extremely large warehouses before you get a considerable payback by using our trucks,“ says Damien Murray. “If you can achieve an increase of 100 pallet spaces in the same area, then the Aisle-Master more than pays for itself.”
All Aisle-Master models are designed to work both inside and out – cushioned tyres enable operation on uneven surfaces and gradients, but Nature’s Best’s truck works purely inside in the temperature controlled storage area. It stacks pallets of a wide range of chilled food such as dairy and deli products in racking to a height of 7.6m and picks them again when required for consignments. The AC technology incorporated into the electric Aisle-Master models also ensures excellent battery efficiency throughout shifts, smoother operation due to immediate response to controls and improved energy consumption.
Ciaran points to further benefits of the Aisle-Master system: “the truck’s swift and seamless operation has enabled our transport partner Zellwood Ltd to profit from enhanced customer service whilst reducing costs, due to improved loading procedures and executing planned DOT’s (delivery on time). These improvements have been reflected within our daily operations through our transport KPI (Key Performance Indicators) reporting.”
Aisle-Masters can work in aisles of just 1.75m, with capacities of up to 2.5 tonnes and lift heights of up to 12.5 metres, and LPG models are also available. The trucks are all designed and built at the company’s dedicated production facility in Monaghan, Ireland, ensuring a top quality product. Aisle-Master design engineers also offer a site visit and warehouse layout service and supply free layout proposals illustrating how to maximise the use of available storage space.
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