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Boughey, the ambient grocery distribution and storage specialist, has bought 40 forklift trucks from Atlet to help move stock around its three new warehouses in Wardle, Cheshire.

Each warehouse covers 100,000ft2 and accommodates 19,000 pallets in a combination of mobile and conventional racking.

Atlet helped to design the layout and recommended warehouse trucks that made maximum use of storage capacity.

Boughey’s reach truck specification demanded the capability to handle full pallets weighing as much as 1250kg in any location, including the top beams at 10.8M.

Boughey also wanted to introduce greater flexibility into its picking operations.

Atlet proposed the heavy duty version of its UHS Forte reach truck for the general pallet handling requirements.

The Forte is fitted with Atlet’s S3 stability support system, which automatically provides higher truck stability by governing speed and acceleration and the interface between speed and steering sensitivity.

For the other picking and handling duties, Atlet recommended a selection of low level and man rising order pickers and powered pallet transporters.

The resulting order, comprising more than 40 trucks supplied on a five year lease, was the largest Boughey had ever placed with Atlet.

A dedicated Atlet engineer is permanently on site to provide preventative maintenance services that aim to identify and fix any technical issues before they affect warehouse operations.

Information from on-board computers is used by the engineers to assess each truck’s status and to intervene when required.

Atlet provides Boughey with regular reports and raw data on its trucks, containing a range of performance and maintenance metrics such as hours worked, truck availability and so on.

This allows Boughey to assess overall fleet performance and the real cost of ownership.

Operations in the new warehouses are reasonably standardised.

Stock for each customer is allocated to specific zones for simpler resource management.

Pallets are stored in the higher locations and brought down by reach truck to be picked by the other trucks.

Handling full pallets to the top beam of the racking requires precision and although Boughey’s warehouse team had been used to working at lower maximum heights, it was decided that their experience and the use of the trucks’ on-board height indicators would avoid the need for cameras mounted on the forks.

The addition of man rising order pickers to the fleet was a novel departure for the site.

Around a quarter of picking in the new warehouse is by case and the use of man rising trucks supports greater flexibility because items can now be accessed from any location in the warehouse.

Atlet offered a number of battery charge and change options with the trucks; Boughey went for a simple management and rotation system to ensure the most efficient use of energy resources.

Battery changing is facilitated using two of the company’s Battsman changeover units.

These are modified versions of powered pallet transporters and are used to transfer batteries between a truck and its charging position.

These eliminate the need for the larger trucks to enter the area, which is simpler and quicker.

The use of sophisticated ERP and WMS facilities that interface with customers’ systems ensure the new warehouses are operating close to capacity.

Most deliveries are despatched to RDCs operated for or by multiple retailers and Boughey estimates it has in excess of 1000 locations to serve each week, using its transport fleet of 140 vehicles.

The company ordered a further six man rising order pickers at the end of 2008.

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