Consolidation centre increases capacity by 20 per cent

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Based in Redditch, Worcestershire, Oakland International is a third party logistics (3PL) services provider that specialises in ambient, chilled and frozen food storage and distribution. To keep pace with the growing demand for its services, the company recently reconfigured the internal layout of its 135,000 sq ft chilled storage facility to increase the amount of narrow aisle storage space within the building.

"Because of the premium costs involved in providing chilled storage, it is important that we make maximum use of the space we have available so it made sense to expand our narrow aisle store," explains Ed Ross, Oakland's general manager.

Oakland's facility now features a mix of narrow and wide aisle storage. However, by putting more emphasis on its narrow aisle store, the company has been able to increase pallet capacity at the site by some 20 per cent. In all, the Redditch unit now holds over 8000 racked pallet locations, 2500 of which are within the expanded narrow aisle area.

The company's greater commitment to a VNA storage solution meant that Oakland needed to increase its narrow aisle forklift truck fleet. But, because large parts of the facility remain designed around wide aisle racking, it was important to select a product that could function efficiently and safely in both areas of the warehouse.

After an extensive evaluation of various possible solutions the company acquired a fleet of Flexi EURO articulated forklift trucks from Narrow Aisle Ltd. A compact four wheel truck, the Flexi EURO has the ability to lift 1600kg loads and offers lift heights of over 8 metres.

The Flexi trucks have also allowed Oakland to optimise storage density while at the same time allowing individual pallet accessibility - which becomes a problem with many other forklift based high density storage systems.
The Flexi trucks have enabled a lot of double handling to be eliminated at the Oakland site and have increased throughput to over 10 pallets per truck per hour - a move which has streamlined Oakland's operation and delivered significant cost reductions for the company.

The electric-powered Flexi forklifts in operation at Oakland function in both chilled and freezer conditions to a maximum of 30 degrees, with all main components either stainless steel or zinc coated, any additional parts are cold store specified.

Ed Ross commented: "Our investment reflects the company's overall approach to safe productive working, reducing costs and delivering improved value that will directly benefit Oakland customers. It also takes into account our desire to support Oakland employees, by providing state of the art equipment to help them undertake a range of materials handling operations, with the end result being improved operational functionality, flexibility and efficiency.

"Once we had decided that articulated forklift truck technology represented the best materials handling solution for us we reviewed and tested the various brands of articulated truck on the market. The case for the Flexi was, in our opinion particularly strong. One of the most impressive aspects of the truck's design was the ease with which batteries are changed which minimises truck downtime between charges."

John Maguire, sales and marketing director of Narrow Aisle Flexi, commented: "We are delighted to be working with Oakland to provide a solution for the company's materials handling needs. The Flexi truck is popular among 3PLs who need to maximise storage density and require safe and efficient throughput and Oakland were quick to realise the benefits that articulated truck technology could bring to their operation. "

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