Friday, 30 January 2015

New combi-style articulated forklift transforms warehouse economics

The world's leading developer of articulated forklifts, the UK-based Translift Bendi,* has perfected a unique, man-up, combi-style forklift that delivers substantial cost savings when compared with conventional, dedicated, very narrow aisle (VNA) trucks. The label unique is well deserved because no other truck in the world can handle both order picking and pallet stacking functions concurrently.

This articulated, stand-on truck with working aisle width capability of only 1.6 mt has a separate, independent set of forks at the back which allows the driver to pick and stack concurrently without having to drop a pallet down to floor level to change from picking to stacking mode or vice versa. The standing position allows the driver when facing forwards to use the truck as a normal Bendi with a 1.2 tonne lift to 8 mt and the rear forks can be folded up out of the way if required. Turning round to face the back, the operator can place loads onto the pick pallet and raise or lower the forks as required to keep a comfortable and safe working height. Maximum lift for the order picking function is 6 mt.

This dual functionality on the go is the main unique selling point. The problem with conventional, man-up, combi-style trucks is that in order to change between order picking and full pallet load stacking functions the driver must return forks to ground level to change pallets. With the Bendi, however, the driver could be half way through an order picking list when he reaches an empty pallet location, which he can refill with the Bendi forks facing the forward direction of travel even though it already has a load on the order picking forks. Moreover, when leaving the racking aisles the driver can deposit two loads on the warehouse floor, thus doubling productivity.

Translift Bendi has made it clear that this unique development is not designed to replace ordinary, man-up order picking trucks, but rather to give warehouse operators the chance to gain big cash savings through space-saving gains, lower wage bills and fewer trucks over their current operations using order pickers and reach trucks in the same aisle. Where that happens the aisle must be at least 2.6 mt wide but the new Bendi man-up truck needs only 1.6 mt when carrying two pallet loads. Only at the aisle ends when changing aisles is more transfer space needed than a conventional, one-load Bendi.

The cost implications of this truck are remarkable. If, for example, a warehouse can reduce aisle widths from 2.6 mt to 1.6 mt it can gain up to 30% more pallet locations. It can also dispense with having two different types of truck -- Bendi and reach truck, and save £20,000 per reach truck driver. The Bendi asking price is £45,000 whereas similar spec VNA combi-style trucks would cost 60% more. Translift Bendi claims that in comparison their order picker is also 60% faster but in certain circumstances it could double, and not only for internal work. If, for example, when leaving a racking aisle with two pallet loads, one for picked goods and one with a full pallet load, it could deposit the order-picked load on the warehouse floor and then proceed straight out into the yard to load a lorry. Very few reach trucks have yard work capability and VNA trucks none at all. Productivity, therefore, could be doubled in such circumstances.

There is also an important safety issue. Many warehouses use both pedestrian order picking machines and reach trucks operating in the same aisle at the same time. This can never be an entirely safe scenario. The new Bendi picker, however, dispenses with that risk entirely.

Every now and then there is a major step change in forklift capabilities and cost effectiveness. This must surely be one of them.
                                             Translift Bendi's unique order picker could transform warehouse economics

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