TPN - The Pallet Network, the UK palletised freight distribution networks, offers next-day services throughout the UK and Ireland, as well as Europe and Scandinavia.
Since it was founded in 2000, the company has grown rapidly and now, with a membership of over 100 independent hauliers, handles over 60,000 pallets a week at its purpose built 367,500 sq ft hub in Minworth, West Midlands and its strategically placed Northern hub operation near Preston.
The Minworth hub is the beating heart of TPN's nationwide business. Fast and efficient loading and unloading of palletised loads from vehicles is absolutely critical to the success of the enterprise. In a busy 24hr period some 370 vehicles pass through the hub and over 13,000 pallets are handled, all of which places a heavy requirement on the forklift truck fleet to perform.
With operations ramping-up in earnest at 7pm and running full-pelt through to 5am, a large fleet of robust, reliable and easily maintained counterbalance forklift trucks is essential to the smooth running of the sites. In addition, working undercover within a building requires clean-running gas trucks fitted with high performance catalytic converters.
Wishing to further improve environmental conditions within the hub, over the last two years TPN has been conducting a review of its 77 strong fleet of forklifts and has just completed the transition of its entire fleet to a single source supplier, Jungheinrich UK – changing from their original supplier.
"It's time-critical work and everything we do is inside, undercover. So we require fast, efficient, robust trucks – but importantly, they must also be clean and able to deal with this sort of environment," says Keith Flitton, General Manager Operations at The Pallet Network.
"Working inside we couldn't use a diesel truck, so that's why we have gas trucks. One of the biggest reasons we looked at the fleet was that we needed a cleaner fleet available to us - one with reduced emissions," says Flitton.
All 77 of the trucks supplied to TPN under a five-year full maintenance contract hire agreement are Jungheinrich's second generation, hydrostatic counterbalance 2.5 tonne capacity TFG 425s gas powered trucks. Each was supplied with three-way catalytic converters – a factory option for Jungheinrich counterbalance trucks.
Proven to be robust and reliable under punishing conditions, the TFG 425s offers excellent fuel economy and by virtue of its hydrostatic transmission, has good traction with anti-wheel spin, and excellent inching capability for precision unloading/loading of vehicles – making it perfect for hub duties.
"With over seventy trucks operating in the hub on a busy night manoeuvrability was another major factor for us," says Flitton. "The TFG 425s offers excellent manoeuvrability and the finger-tip controls and comfortable cabs are very popular with the drivers on their long-shifts."
Keith Flitton continues: "Moving to Jungheinrich as a single source supplier of forklift trucks across the 2 sites has allowed us to have improved maintenance - with engineers on-site - and greater parts availability, which reduces any downtime. That's important when you need every truck to be operational, every night."