Marketing specialist Latcham Direct helps its customers to make the most of their communication channels with their own clients thanks to a range of products which include regular traditional print campaigns and bespoke solutions across digital and print platforms. Proving that paper is still a very popular medium to spread the word, the Bristol based company takes delivery of a good 100t of reels of printing stock every few weeks – equivalent to over 5 million sheets of A4. A key piece of equipment for the efficient handling of the reels in the storage area is an Aisle Master articulated forklift with a demountable clamp.

Latcham has grown steadily since it was established eight years ago and its customer base includes three FTSE 100 companies, local authorities, charities, trade unions and health and financial services. It acquired its first Aisle Master four years ago to handle pallets of stationery, envelopes and printing materials as well as finished products in and around the warehouse. Having used other brands of articulated trucks in the past, the Aisle Master was a perfect choice for Latcham’s existing narrow aisles as Production Manager Gary Cross explains: “We were never really 100% satisfied with the previous trucks, either from a quality or reliability point of view, and since we changed over on the advice of David Scammell of 4K Systems, we have been very impressed with the Aisle Master on all levels and took delivery of a third machine last year.”

In a bid to save costs, Gary and the management team were keen to order paper in bulk with fewer deliveries across the year. But this added another question into the equation, which was how to handle the 500kg reels once they had been offloaded two at a time by the Aisle Masters and “chimney stacked” up to four high in the interim storage area. Rather than having to have a fourth truck on standby for just a few days every month or so, which would have negated any cost savings, David Scammell suggested the possibility of an attachment that could replace the forks on the Aisle Master when needed for this very specific application.

“Combilift, the manufacturers of the Aisle Master, go the extra mile to come up with tailor made solutions that really do what they promise, so I had every confidence that the company engineers would be able to put my ideas into practice,” said David. The hydraulically powered clamp is fitted to the fork carriage and with quick release couplings, it only takes a few minutes to remove the forks, mount the clamp and connect the hydraulic hoses. The clamp is then ready to handle the reel by lifting it off the stack, rotating it and gently setting it down on to the floor, where it can then be easily and safely mounted on a print machine.

Apart from pallet trucks, the Aisle Masters are the only pieces of MHE on site so their versatility to work in the narrow aisles, lift to the 7.6m top beam and to operate inside and out for around 11 hours a day is of great benefit. The ability to chimney stack and remove the reels in a designated area rather than store them at the bottom of the racking has also enabled Latcham to make full use of the 760 pallet spaces to get maximum revenue from the warehouse. Gary points out further savings that can be attributed to the clamp:

“Without it our suppliers would have to put each reel on a pallet, and we’re not just talking a pound or two for each one. As we take deliveries of 150 + reels at a time, the clamp will have quickly paid for itself.” The trucks are on a 6 year rental contact with 4K Systems, which looks after service, maintenance, and any repairs, but as Gary points out: “if we have even one issue between planned services it is extremely rare. Both David as our handling consultant and Combilift as a manufacturer offer exemplary service and I would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone. Their ability to come up with the “2 trucks in 1” concept for us shows their commitment to the customer.”