Due to growing demand for their confectionary products Tilley’s needed more storage space but, as the company’s warehouse unit in Kettering is surrounded by green belt land, developing the overall size of the site was out of the question.
From the outset Tilley’s – who had been operating reach trucks in the warehouse – wanted a system that would enable them to store more finished product but would also retain 100 per cent pallet accessibility at ground level for order picking. This meant that drive-in or double deep storage solutions were deemed unsuitable.
A design based around wire-guided VNA trucks was also explored but in the final analysis this was considered too costly to install in the existing building.
Having reviewed various options, Tilley’s project team decided that the most space and cost efficient and productive proposition was a very narrow aisle pallet racking system served by a fleet of Flexi VNA articulated forklifts.
As a result of the changes implemented, on site storage capacity has been increased by close to 30 per cent while the number of picking locations available has increased by a similar figure.
Tilley’s new warehouse layout is designed around 1.6 metre wide aisleways. Because the Flexi VNA’s chassis is just 1 metre wide, there is enough clearance either side for the truck to travel quickly and safely down these very narrow aisles.
At fast-moving operations like Tilley’s where speed of pallet put-away and pick is a priority, the pace at which a truck can safely operate in the aisleways is paramount, as John Maguire Flexi’s sales and marketing director explains:
“If there is insufficient clearance between the truck and the racking the operator has no choice but to dramatically reduce travel speed within the aisles as there is very little margin for error. This speed reduction is clearly counter productive to any benefits the user may have derived by being able to add extra pallet positions by cutting the aisle dimensions. We always ensure that on each pallet storage solution we help to design the operational clearances are safe and efficient.””
Since its launch last year, the Flexi VNA is proving an attractive alternative to guided VNA trucks. It can work in equally narrow aisles as most VNA trucks and, thanks to its fast work cycles, offers comparable productivity for a fraction of the cost – and, like all trucks in the Flexi range – it has the added advantage of being able to work outside to load and unload trailers.
Flexi Narrow Aisle