30% extra storage capacity with an Aisle Master articulated forklift

Armagh based Johnston International Transport has increased storage capacity in its warehouse by around 30%, by replacing a reach truck with an Aisle Master articulated forklift, manufactured by Combilift in Monaghan, just over the border from the company’s premises. The truck is mainly used to handle pallets of raw ingredients such as sugar and flour, which are stored and shipped when required to two of Johnston’s major clients in the bakery sector.

According to Transport Manager Mark Johnston, it was high time that the company looked at improving its storage procedures, as the increasing volume of incoming products flagged up the fact that space was running out as it was not being used efficiently. “A neighbouring business of ours that supplies batteries to Combilift suggested that I get in touch to see if they had any suggestions, and they swiftly came up with a plan.”

Following information from a site survey carried out by Combilift’s David Vuagniaux, Combilift engineers supplied layout diagrams within 24 hours to show how the existing warehouse area could be optimised. “This was a really impressive service”, said Mark, “and clearly illustrated that by moving racking closer together, going a bit higher and exploiting the narrow aisle capabilities of the Aisle Master, we’d be able to add at least another 400 pallet spaces.”

The project was completed in a relatively short time scale, and involved installing new 5m high racking with reduced aisle widths of 2.3m, compared with those of around 3m that were previously need for the reach trucks. An interim Aisle Master was supplied whilst Johnston’s two-tonne capacity electric powered AM20SE model was in production. This was delivered in early January and has been a big hit with the drivers.

“The truck is superb and easy to drive”, said Mark. “We also opted for a camera fitted onto a mast section which the drivers really appreciate when placing and picking pallets, which can weigh up to around 1,000kg, in the highest bays. Overall visibility from the cab is very good in any case but we decided that the camera would give drivers that extra bit of confidence and it was well worth getting. The truck was also painted in our corporate company colours, so looks very smart too.”

Aisle Masters are all designed to work inside and out, for versatile truck to rack handling, but Johnston’s truck is mainly designated for internal operation, as a counterbalance forklift is used for offloading and dropping pallets at the warehouse door. The Aisle Master then takes over to put loads into the racking, and the procedure is reversed when customer deliveries are scheduled. Mark: “We chose this method as it keeps the Aisle Master clean, but it’s an added advantage to know we can operate it anywhere on the premises should we want to.”

Mark sums up: “As a family owned business for over 40 years, we pride ourselves on our high standards. The Aisle Master has enabled us to optimise space, guarantee a timely turnaround and enhanced service for our customers in the UK and Ireland. We have just received planning permission to build a new warehouse, so a second Aisle Master will be on order soon.”