99p Stores started with a single location in London in 2001 and has since become a major national brand with 135 outlets across the country. With this figure expecting to rise to 200 by the end of the year, the company has built a new National Distribution Centre in Northampton, which is two and a half times the size of its old Daventry HQ. To cope with the exacting demands of a site of this scale, 99p Stores has chosen a fleet of 11 Aisle-Master articulated trucks to handle and store pallets of incoming and outgoing consignments.
“With an area of 375,000 sq. ft, this is the largest site for a single price retailer in the UK,” says Commercial Director Hussein Lalani. “When choosing equipment for the warehouse the focus was on absolute dependability to enable our 24/7 operations to proceed unhindered. We were familiar with the articulated system which operated in our old premises, and after thorough evaluation of all brands on the market we made the unanimous decision to switch to Aisle-Master.”
The 11 AC electric powered Aisle-Masters are fully customised to 99p Stores’ specifications and were the first batch of trucks to come off the new manufacturing line since the company moved production to its new Monaghan site. The 11.4m mast has an impressive capacity of 700kg to full lift height. Other features include weighing scales and a mast mounted camera with in-cab screen to ease pallet placement and removal in the extremely high top racks.
As befits an operation of this size, the statistics are impressive. Hussein Lalani explains: “We currently have 4,000 to 5,000 pallet movements a day, send out 26,000 pallets a week to stores, which will rise to 52,000 in peak periods such as the run up to Christmas. When all the racking is installed we will have 51 aisles to accommodate 44,000 pallet spaces. We therefore need very robust trucks to handle this rigorous workload with the minimum risk of downtime. A senior colleague had visited the factory and seen at first hand the quality manufacturing process, and having also tried out an Aisle-Master on a long term rental basis before we moved, I knew this was a machine we could rely on. Driver preference is also very important, and when surveyed, all drivers agreed that it was better than others for smoother operation and mast stability at height.”
The Aisle-Masters were supplied by Linde Creighton, which will also look after service and maintenance. Four Linde engineers were factory trained by Aisle-Master so have inside out knowledge of the trucks, which are specifically designed for easy access to components to speed up routine tasks. The AC technology incorporated as standard in all electric Aisle-Masters also minimises wear and tear on parts and reduces energy consumption for longer operation per charge. 99p Stores is also fitting the Transmon fleet management system for improved monitoring of truck movements.
The AC electric or LPG powered Aisle-Master range can work in aisles of just 1.75m, with capacities of up to 2.5 tonnes and lift heights of up to 12.5 metres. The company also offers a free of charge warehouse planning service. Customers can either supply a layout of their premises, or Aisle-Master personnel will visit to undertake a site survey. On the basis of this, design engineers supply layout proposals and storage density calculations, illustrating the optimum use of space.