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Boom time for carpets

12 December 2012

Attachments to handle rolls of carpet helps Atlet boost warehouse efficiency at Alliance Flooring Distribution in Kidderminster

Attachments to handle rolls of carpet helps Atlet boost warehouse efficiency at Allaince Flooring Distribution in KidderminsterAlliance Flooring Distribution has significantly improved materials handling performance at its main warehouse in Kidderminster by working closely with lift truck supplier Atlet. Storage capacity has been maximised and the time products spend on site before delivery to customers has been minimised. The fleet supplied by Atlet includes eight reach trucks with special booms to handle rolls of carpet around the warehouse in a highly efficient and well-organised operation.

"We have been impressed by Atlet's approach," says Nigel
Wilkes,Warehouse Manager at Alliance Flooring Distribution.

"They've done what they said they would and, two years into the
contract, the service has been excellent."
Atlet representatives visited Kidderminster to discuss the
requirements and suggested a week-long loan of a reach truck,
temporarily equipped with a carpet boom, so that the warehouse
staff could carry out a proper evaluation. The drivers liked the
truck and the Atlet team met them to gather feedback and
arrange some modifications. This included fitting holsters for
hand held barcode scanners and clipboards at convenient
positions in the cab. As the existing trucks came to the end of
their individual lease contracts they were replaced by eight Atlet
UHS reach trucks with an identical specification that helps to
promote driver familiarity and simplify maintenance.

"The Atlet sales staff have been extremely professional and
have looked after us very well," says Wilkes. "One of the problems
we had with the previous supplier was that the salesman didn't
stay in touch after the original sale until the lease was nearly
finished.With Atlet however we have regular contact and we
know they really care about what we want."

Steel boom
The reach trucks are used to handle four and five metre carpet
rolls weighing as much as 450kg to heights up to 10m. A special
steel boom mounted on the truck's modified carriage is inserted
into the centre of the roll which is then handled between special
deep-racking storage and order assembly areas. Alliance specified
a tilting carriage as this made it easier to control and position
loads in this particular type of application than the alternative of
a tilting mast.

One of the features on the Forte UHS reach truck that
particularly appealed to Wilkes was the S3 Stability Support
System. This automatically provides higher truck stability by
governing speed and acceleration in conjunction with steering
sensitivity. S3 automatically reduces the speed of truck functions
in proportion to the height lifted, overrides unsafe manoeuvres
and reduces jerkiness in the manipulation of the controls.

"We had an issue with the previous trucks and when we
mentioned the new ones had the S3 system to the HSE they were
impressed," says Wilkes. "It's a good safety feature."
Alliance also likes the ergonomic features on the trucks
including mini steering wheel, tilting seat and push button
controls because these help prevent unnecessary twisting when
driving. Drivers on afternoon shift in particular do a lot of work
and need to read labels on carpet rolls, use their scanners and
read paper notes as well as operate their truck to make sure
deliveries are despatched on time.

To complete its original fleet Alliance selected three Nissan
electric counterbalance trucks, supplied by Atlet, for loading and
unloading vehicles. These trucks, which also have special boom
carriages, have shorter masts than the reach trucks which allows
them to work in the loading bay and inside the vehicle bodies
and containers used for shipping carpets to customers.

The business has grown and Alliance now offers wooden and
laminate flooring which can be transported easily in the spare
space on its transport vehicles. Packs of laminate are stored in a
separate area of the warehouse complex in three bays of
conventional racking. Alliance selected an Atlet OPM man rising
order picker so that items can be picked from any location for
complete flexibility with maximum utilisation of the available
space. This was the first truck of this type used by Alliance and
for simplicity the company trained a dedicated operator to use

Batteries for the trucks are changed in strict rotation for
balanced utilisation using Atlet's Space Track system. The
discharged battery is hand winched off the truck directly onto a
free charging position. The truck is then connected to the
appropriate fully charged unit and repositioned so that the
battery can be pulled onboard
using a mobile hand winch.