Gloucestershire based Architectonic Systems is a leading supplier of aluminium window and door systems for use in commercial and residential buildings. In addition to its extensive range of fenestration systems the company also offers a complete design and supply service for bespoke aluminium extrusions. In order to keep pace with the volume of raw materials and finished product passing through the warehouse, Architectonics has replaced an old and unreliable articulated forklift with a 4-way Combilift truck. The resulting improvements in handling and storage procedures have been extremely impressive according to Operations Manager Mark Greening.
“Apart from the operational unreliability of our old machine, there were other drawbacks – we could only offload and transport one stillage at a time for example”, says Mark. “The 2.5t capacity of the Combilift enables us to lift two or even three stillages in one go, cutting the time spent offloading an incoming delivery from three or four hours down to just one. With multiple deliveries in and around the warehouse every day this has really boosted productivity. In spite of the increased lift capacity the Combilift is incredibly compact, and we can operate it in our existing narrow aisles, so there was no disruption of the warehouse layout when we took delivery.”
Sales over the last year have been so buoyant that Architectonics has taken on more staff and are currently extending the size of the warehouse, doubling its size to 20,000ft2. Before the Combilift was in place, the management had thought that two trucks may be necessary to cover the increased area – one primarily for indoor work, and a more robust model for outside. As the Combilift range has specifically been designed for versatile operation, it can do the job of a combination of other forklifts, cutting costs for Architectonics as well as reducing the carbon footprint of running multiple vehicles.
Advice as to the best forklift for Architectonics’ operation came from local materials handling specialist On3, and Mark has nothing but praise for their service. “They did a thorough site survey to analyse our requirements, and having identified the Combilift range as ideal, arranged a demonstration so we could see for ourselves how the truck’s manoeuvrability and 4-way operation would have a positive impact in the warehouse. If we do have a problem, and that is extremely rare as the truck has proved to be very dependable, the On3 team are there in a matter of hours.”
As stillages of aluminium or UPVC are typically lighter than loads in other industries such as timber or steel, Combilift engineers developed the C2,500 specifically for the extrusion and glass and glazing sectors. It offers customers the manoeuvrability and versatility that have become hallmarks of its product range but packaged into a smaller machine which can negotiate confined spaces and work in aisles of just 2m. This enables Architectonics’ drivers to easily manoeuvre 7m long stillages around the restricted yard, through a doorway, round tight corners and into racking.
“The Combilift is a tremendous machine,“ concludes Mark. ”It is extremely reliable, we have less downtime as LPG power means we can change a gas bottle in a minute rather than waiting for batteries to charge, and the drivers also love it. We were also able to use it throughout the harsh winter even when there was a lot of snow lying on the ground, so there was no disruption to our operations and therefore no delay for our clients.”
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 – 25 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 around 11,000 units in operation around the world.
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