Urban warehouses can be good neighbours


Quiet running and environmentally friendly materials handling equipment is essential if operators of urban warehouses want to be ‘good neighbours’ says Paul Murray, JCB’s Teletruk General Manager.

Urban warehouse units located on the doorstep of both residential and business customers are increasingly serving as an integral part of the ‘last mile’ delivery process. 

And, with their potential to help reduce delivery times, smaller urban stores are seen by many internet retailers and their third party logistics (3PL) partners as a valuable weapon in the battle for online market share.

However, where industrial sites co-locate alongside residential property, neighbour disputes are far from unusual.

Two of the most common causes of friction between industrial site operators and the local community are concerns about noise pollution and air quality. Even very low levels of noise can disturb sleep and with between 28,000 and 36,000 UK deaths attributed to long-term exposure to pollution each year, air quality anxiety is understandable.

So, if urban warehouse operators want to avoid becoming embroiled in potentially costly legal disputes and be seen to be ‘good neighbours’, extra careful consideration must be given to the design of the facility and, especially, the mix of materials handling equipment that operates both inside and outside it.

Paul Murray, JCB’s Teletruk General Manager, says: “Given that logistics hubs may need to operate 24 hours a day, it is essential that every effort is made to ensure that materials handling equipment in use within any urban warehouse is as quiet as possible. And site managers must also ensure that they are using the cleanest machinery available and be certain that it complies with the minimum emission standard requirement for the area in which they operate – especially in higher density environments.”

He continues: “The fact is emissions, noise and the need to maximise all available space, are as important as productivity and running cost considerations when it comes to choosing materials handling equipment for an urban warehouse operation.”

IC engine-powered models in the JCB Logistics Teletruk range meet the most stringent emissions regulations, but Paul Murray says the company is experiencing huge interest in its electric-powered Teletruk range from companies that operate facilities within or close to residential areas.

He says: “Launched early in 2019, the new JCB 30-19E is the first electric-powered model in Teletruk range. Like all battery electric forklifts, electric Teletruks give off no harmful emissions. They are also quiet in use. JCB is a leader in innovative clean diesel technology but the launch of an electric powered model means the Teletruk can be used both inside and outside a store.”

At those sites where ic-engine trucks are currently deployed, a switch to electric-powered materials handling equipment not only brings environmental benefits: JCB calculates that, over a five year period, changing to electric Teletruks allows significant cost savings to be achieved too.

Paul Murray said: “The financial efficiencies to be made by adopting electric-powered Teletruk technology more than offset the initial investment in the machine, battery and charger. The JCB

30-19E operates for a full 8-hour shift on a single charge and the cost of recharging a battery overnight on a low rate tariff is considerably less than replacing gas bottles or filling a fuel tank with red diesel, while the maintenance and servicing costs associated with running electric forklifts are notably less than the engine-powered alternatives because, by comparison, electric engines have fewer moving parts than the ic alternative.”

With its unique and award-winning design, the Teletruk is particularly suited to urban stores where space is likely to be at a premium.

Thanks to its telescopic reach mast, the Teletruk has the ability to access curtainsided trailers from only one side. This functionality means the amount of floorspace required to load and unload pallets to and from incoming or outgoing vehicles can be slashed by 30% - which, typically, frees up some 32 square metres of yard space per vehicle.

Using Teletruk technology to pick or pack pallets from one side only means that a curtainsider requires just six metres of space within which to be loaded or unloaded. So, trailers can be parked tight to a wall or other form of perimeter boundary –leaving valuable space free in the central yard area for additional storage, extra delivery vehicles or, indeed, tasks such as cross docking.

And loading and unloading a trailer from just one side delivers significant site safety benefits. For example, because outdoor goods yards can be reconfigured to allow trailers to park against a boundary wall, ‘blind’ forklift travel – where a lift truck operator emerges from the side of a parked trailer into what is often a busy area – is eliminated.

Paul Murray concludes: “With the relentless shift towards online shopping and the trend among grocery retailers to refocus on convenience food outlets in towns and city centres, supply chain planners have recognised that logistics facilities sited within our major conurbations have a key role to play in the drive for faster e-retail order delivery times and more efficient stock replenishment.

“Ever tighter regulations and controls are likely to be announced in the near future and those operators of urban logistics sites should be planning ahead to ensure that the materials handling equipment they use is compatible with the local environment – and that means choosing machinery that is both quiet and emission free.”

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