Thriving order books at one of the UK’s leading providers of greenhouses, The Greenhouse People, has led to the company outgrowing its old premises, moving to a new site and acquiring an Aisle-Master articulated forklift to ensure the best possible use of all available space in the storage bays.
Based near Stoke on Trent, the company manufactures its own line of ready to assemble aluminium greenhouses, and has enjoyed steady expansion since it was founded 10 years ago. As this is expected to continue due to the rise in demand for home grown produce, the management was keen from the outset to achieve the maximum possible pallet density in the 3,000m² warehouse.
Local materials handling specialist Carrylift recommended the Aisle-Master due to its ability to work in very narrow aisles and its excellent manoeuvrability. The Greenhouse People is now profiting from 50% increase in pallet spaces – 750 in all, compared to around 500 that could have been achieved with the old counterbalance forklift. According to the Greenhouse People’s Kit Whiteman, “this will enable us to keep up with the increased volume of materials we are handling, without having to resort to outside storage or purchasing extra space.”
The warehouse is divided into three sectors: a stockroom for finished products, an accessories bay for garden peripherals such as water butts and packs of staging, and a storage area for raw materials. The racking in this section was laid out according to the capabilities of the Aisle-Master which was originally intended to work here, handling pallets or crates of glass and bundles of aluminium profiles. It was not long however before the truck’s versatility proved it to be useful elsewhere; its indoor /outdoor operation for example enables it to offload from incoming delivery vehicles in the yard.
The company chose an electric AC powered Aisle-Master from the Irish manufacturer’s range, and as the dimensions of the packs of glass are smaller than standard pallets, shorter forks were fitted. This prevents them from protruding through the racking, eliminating the risk of dislodging or damaging product stored in adjacent bays. The truck lifts to a height of 8.5m and also features a mast mounted camera and in cab wide flat screen colour monitor which makes life easier for operators when they are picking from the very highest levels. As Aisle-Masters are all manufactured from start to finish at the company’s facility in Monaghan, a variety of paint finishes are available, and the Greenhouse People chose to have its Aisle-Master in the corporate colour – not green but blue!
“It is incredible what this truck can do,” says Kit, “and one of our directors remarked that he can’t understand why anyone would choose another type of forklift for this operation. It is easy to drive, and we are seeing more and more uses for it as time goes on.”
Aisle-Masters can work in aisles of just 1.75m, have capacities of up to 2.5 tonnes, lift heights of up to 12.5 metres, and LPG models are also available. The trucks have a reputation for excellent build quality and robust, long life operation. Aisle-Master design engineers also offer a site visit and warehouse analysis service free of charge, and The Greenhouse People took advantage of this to obtain layout proposals enabling the company to configure its storage facilities for maximum efficiency and use of space.