Moving loads efficiently in the beverage industry can be a precarious business, particularly for a company such as Marston’s which handles kegs, casks, spirits and soft drinks at its 14 depots across the UK. For an operation dealing with diverse loads of different shapes and sizes, a one-size-fits-all approach to its materials handling needs is unlikely to deliver the levels of productivity required. As Marston’s expanded its business, it turned to trusted Yale partner, Briggs Equipment, for a tailored solution.

Marston’s has a history that dates back to 1890 when it originally operated as Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries. Now the UK’s top independent pub retailing and brewing business, the company operates around 1,600 pubs with over 14,300 employees across the UK, and remains the only brewer to use Burton Union Sets, a system where barrels are linked via pipework during fermentation.

Industry experts at Yale Europe Materials Handling understand the challenges associated with handling kegs and pallets in large quantities, including the loading and unloading of lorries. This understanding has been a key part in the successful relationship between Briggs Equipment and Marston’s.

Determining precise needs

Following the acquisition of both the Charles Wells Brewing and Beer business and various supply contracts in 2017, Marston’s elected to bring the distribution operation in-house at a new site in West Thurrock. Marston’s issued a detailed tender as part of a group-wide procurement and required a fleet that would predominantly transfer pallets of beer, spirits and soft drinks as well as keg and cask products to kerbside lorries for onward distribution.

Kevin O’Rourke, Group Fleet Manager at Marston’s, said: “We’ve had a very close relationship with Briggs for a number of years, so we made contact with our account manager and invited them to the site. We explained what we wanted to do and what was needed, and they’ve supported us with everything from choosing the fleet to racking and battery charging stations.”

As a result of winning the tender, Briggs Equipment supplied 37 new pieces of Yale equipment on an outright purchase basis across 14 Marston’s depots in the UK, bringing the total number of Yale trucks within the fleet to over 200.

In safe hands

The Yale equipment on-site is tailored specifically to meet Marston’s materials handling requirements. Keg clamp attachments have been fitted to the forklifts to enable the operators to lift up to 18 barrels at a time, reducing the number of trips required and allowing quicker loading and unloading of kegs to and from the kerbside for onward distribution.

The Marston’s fleet includes short wheelbase and compact cushion tyre forklifts, ideally suited for optimising manoeuvrability within the confines of the warehouse. The Yale forklifts on-site also feature steel mesh guards on the windscreen and roof offering added protection for the operator in the event of a keg falling onto the truck.

Driver assist features have been added to increase the visibility of the trucks to those working around them. Pedestrian Awareness Lights project a blue spot at the back and red lines at the front and sides of the truck to alert pedestrians to the close proximity of the truck.

Trusted dealer service

In such an intensive start-stop operation, minimising the downtime of equipment is key to a productive business. The Yale equipment improves the overall reliability of the fleet while also reducing maintenance costs. As part of their agreement, Briggs Equipment engineers service and maintain the full range of Yale equipment supplied, from reach trucks to rider pallet trucks, and low level order pickers to LPG forklifts.