It was important from Great Bear’s perspective that the implementation of a new material handling fleet at its ambient Desborough DC should not cause any disruption to its business.

Following successful implementation of Crown material handling equipment at a sister site in Port Salford, the decision was taken to switch from the incumbent supplier to Crown Lift Trucks at Desborough and a smaller site at Kettering.

Working 24/7, a key requirement of the site was flexibility. As part of its competitive tender, Crown offered an innovative pay-as-you-go option to Great Bear whereby a proportion of the fleet is only paid for as it is used, enabling the site to expand and contract its operations without bearing the often-heavy penalty of fleet redundancy. Great Bear Distribution’s Account Director, Eddie Hollingsworth, says: “Crown’s flexible approach to our needs coupled with the management information being delivered by InfoLink® means we can better react to our varying customer demands and the needs of our business.”

Crown fleet delivers optimal performance and long-term reliability

Following a competitive tender process, Great Bear chose a Crown fleet of 58 trucks, of which 12 are wireguided TSP Series very narrow aisle trucks supported by a range of GPC Series order pickers, FC Series forklift trucks, WT Series powered pallet trucks and ESR Series reach trucks.

The wire-guided TSP Series VNA truck is at the heart of the Desborough operation. Featuring Crown’s exclusive MonoLift™ mast with its strengthened boxed-in sections and heavy-gauge steel, the TSP Series provides the stability needed for operators with less twisting and swaying than with traditional, dual upright masts, thus delivering optimal performance and long-term reliability.

Crown’s Auto Positioning System is fitted to the TSP Series trucks at Great Bear Distribution and helps choose the most efficient route for the truck to travel between pallet locations. Pick accuracy is also improved and these benefits have been appreciated at the site.

When it comes to fulfilling orders ready for dispatch, the Crown GPC Series low-level order picker is proving to be a reliable and dependable part of the operation. Crown’s Major Account Manager working with Great Bear Distribution is Sean Tanner and he explains: “The GPC Series order picker features a robust, reliable design that can stand up to the harsh environment of order fulfilment. For instance, to protect the expensive components behind the covers, the GPC Series order picker includes up to 200 kg more steel than comparative models. For Great Bear Distribution, this translates into a stronger product, specifically designed for a busy picking operation like the site here at Desborough.”

Crown FC Series forklift acts as “workhorse” in DC

The Crown FC Series 4-wheel electric counterbalanced forklift plays a pivotal role in moving pallets around the dispatch area. Fitted with a double pallet handling attachment, it offers maximum performance and manoeuvrability.

One of the principal reasons for choosing Crown as a supplier was the reassurances given regarding implementation of the fleet during changeover, particularly around the complexities of the battery changing area, which required some reconfiguration.

Crown InfoLink® system brings improvements to operational efficiency

A further reason for choosing Crown was the flexibility it could bring to Great Bear’s operations coupled with the high levels of fleet visibility offered by Crown’s InfoLink fleet management system.

Chris Balchin, General Manager, Great Bear Distribution Ltd., is responsible for managing the Crown fleet at Desborough and explains: “Efficiency is an important measure for us at Great Bear and the Crown InfoLink reporting system has helped us improve our results by providing real-time information and accountability. This is a level of management information we have not had before and allows us to drill down to make efficiency improvements.”