BDR Thermea is a manufacturer and distributor of heating and hot water systems and services. The group operates in more than 70 countries and employs over 6,300 people. The strategy of the group involves marketing under multiple trade brands - the best known of which in the UK is perhaps the Baxi range of boiler units.
The company has production sites and distribution facilities strategically located worldwide and has recently upgraded the materials handling operation within one of its French finished goods warehouses with the introduction of articulated forklift truck technology supplied by UK-based Flexi Narrow Aisle Ltd through its local French distributor.
BDR Thermea had been using a combination of counterbalanced trucks and reach trucks to load and unload incoming and outgoing trailers and deliver pallet loads of product to the double deep storage locations within its store.
But, following a review of its handling processes, which saw pallet racking relocated into single deep aisles, the company has been able to rationalize its forklift fleet by switching to a fleet of eight Flexi EURO VNA trucks.
A four-wheel, electric-powered articulated truck, the Flexi VNA AC was first introduced to the European market during the Autumn of 2010, and has enjoyed significant sales success since – thanks to its ability to work in aisles some 200mm narrower than comparative models.
At the heart of the truck is a unique compact front wheel drive axle design which, combined with the four-wheel Flexi VNA's ability to truly articulate through 220 degrees, allows easy and safe stacking and minimal manoeuvring in the aisleways. In fact, the Flexi VNA AC requires just one turn of the steering wheel to enter or de-stack a pallet – which results in significant productivity benefits.
Like all articulated forklift trucks in the Flexi range, the EURO VNA AC is capable of working outside unloading and loading and operating within the narrowest aisles.
This ability to load like a counterbalanced machine and work in very narrow aisles like a reach truck – although, significantly, without the need for any special attention to be given to the surface of the warehouse floor - has allowed BDH to reduce the number of trucks required at the French facility which, in turn, has resulted in considerable operating cost savings.
The Fleet was supplied through Flexi Narrow Aisle's local French distributor who will also provide ongoing service and maintenance back-up.
John Maguire, sales and marketing director of Flexi Narrow Aisle, commented: "The Flexi distributor network is well established in Europe: we have been successfully delivering articulated trucks to European customers for over a decade. Our involvement in the European market over this time enables us to understand exactly what our European customers need from their trucks.
"The last five years have seen tremendous growth in demand for Flexi articulated truck technology from European logistics service companies, retailers and manufacturing companies.