English Woodlands Timber (EWT) is a hardwood timber specialist that caters for the bespoke and high-end construction, joinery, furniture and kitchen sectors. Since the start of the pandemic the company has increased its online marketing activities, and as a result has achieved a 50% growth in business and attracted a large number of new customers. Fundamental to its success is the fact that each and every item stocked is now also available to view and buy via the web shop.

Equally important however is the ability to efficiently fulfil what Director Ian McNally calls the “pick, pack and dispatch” side of operations once orders have been received. For this, EWT has replaced mainstream counterbalanced trucks with electric powered models from Combilift which have been instrumental in enabling it to keep pace with the increased volumes it handles.

Two C4000E 4t capacity trucks are in operation at the 4 acre site, together with two 2t capacity Combi-WR4 multidirectional pedestrian stacker trucks. The latter feature Combilift’s unique patented multi-position tiller arm which enables the operator to work at the side of the unit rather than at the rear when working in narrow confines for enhanced safety. EWT’s materials handling consultants Locators supplied the trucks and recommended a wider than standard fork carriage of 1950mm for the WR4 models, which increases load stability when carrying 6m long packs or boards.

“What differentiates us from other suppliers is our quality and diverse range,” said Ian. “But we need to ensure that our own pick, pack and despatch procedures match the ease and efficiency with which customers can select and buy packs and individual boards. The Combilifts can handle all the varied and awkward sized boards we stock, they are nimble, manoeuvrable and allow us to work more quickly.”

The ability to move 6m lengths sideways with the C4000E trucks has done away with the need for wide aisles and access areas in the undercover warehouse, and the widths between packs stored outdoors have been more than halved – down to 3m compared to the 6-8m needed for the old two-directional counterbalance trucks. Storing most product in 4m high racking rather than block stacking has also made best use of vertical capacity and Ian reckons that at least 35% extra space has been gained in the existing footprint.

Owner and MD Tom Compton is particularly impressed with the performance of the Combi-WR4s. “This one operator/one machine combination has been transformative and has improved productivity by 30- 40% compared to the old trucks. In spite of their relatively small size they can easily lift packs of timber from the top bay of racking. An added bonus is that training staff to use them takes just a few hours.”

Sustainability is also a byword at the EWT woodyard: “It’s electric power wherever possible so electric Combilifts were the machines of choice, as they are emission free and are also very quiet compared to diesel machines, which is much appreciated by all on site,” says Ian.

Ian sums up: “The latest digital technology and the innovative engineering from Combilift has been a winning combination which has enabled our business to expand and flourish, without having to worry about building extra space too.”


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