The Rochdale branch of Howarth Timber and Building Supplies has replaced a conventional sideloader with a 4-way Combilift forklift and is benefiting from increased storage capacity, more efficient handling procedures and safer operations.
“We carry a complete range of building supplies from drainage pipes to roof tiles” says General Manager Paul Barton, “and, as such, we need a versatile forklift capable of handling various sizes of loads, from light pallets of insulation material to 6m long, 3.5 tonne packs of timber. This is also a very busy site where quick customer service is a must, and the Combilift’s manoeuvrability and ease of use enables operatives to locate and load orders with the minimum of delay.”
Howarth Timber Group is the UK’s largest privately owned timber company, operating a network of 33 timber and building supplies branches throughout England. Due to the large amount of stock carried at the Rochdale branch, space saving storage is also an issue, and the Combilift’s multi-directional capability has enabled more stock per square metre to be accommodated. Paul and his drivers found the sideloader to be large and cumbersome, and its high platform prevented the use of lower level storage, whereas the very low platform height of the diesel powered C4000 Combilift model has freed up considerable extra space near the base of the cantilever racking.
The site has been operational since February 2008, and was taken over from a company dealing purely in timber. The change to mixed stock required a rethink of storage configurations, and Howarth Timber took advantage of Combilift’s free warehouse layout service: the company supplied detailed drawings advising, in this case, on guided aisle operation in parts of the yard as well as in the various undercover storage areas. This has enabled aisle-widths to be cut to the absolute minimum, for maximum use of the space available. As the Combilift’s turning circle is so tight (it can turn on its axis) previous “dead” space needed for the sideloader to manoeuvre has also been used to store more products.
Combilift Ltd supplies a wide range of attachments according to individual customer requirements, and Howarth’s truck has been fitted with hydraulic fork positioners, which are operated from inside the cab. According to driver Stuart Darcy, these are particularly useful when dealing with the mixed sizes of loads he typically handles: “I can put a pallet into racking, and then reposition the forks to pick up a long load of plasterboard or doors without leaving the cab. This is quick and very convenient.”
The Combilift is also used for offloading incoming deliveries and reloading consignments for immediate customer delivery. The excellent all round visibility from the cab and its relatively compact dimensions compared to the old sideloader make it a very safe machine to operate on premises constantly populated by the visiting public.
Combilift 4-way forklifts are all designed and built in Monaghan, Ireland, where the company also has its HQ and R&D facility. The current Combilift range now encompasses at least fifteen base models with capacities ranging from 2.5 – 14 tonnes, with LPG, diesel or AC electric power available. Combilift has won numerous awards for its products since the company was established in 1998, and there are now over 10,000 units in operation around the world.
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