The world’s largest chemical company, BASF, has increased its very narrow aisle (VNA) Yale® MTC fleet at its Bradford facility as it looks to provide the most efficient storage and handling solution of chemicals.
The materials handling requirement
With racking reaching heights of over 13 metres and aisles of just 1.65 metres, BASF has a very specific materials handling equipment requirement for its raw materials and finished products warehouse, where there are over 25,000 pallet movements every week.
Seven state-of-the-art Yale MTC series VNA trucks operate using a computerised order picking system that automatically determines the most time and energy efficient route through the racking.
Each 80V MTC15 can handle industrial bulk containers or pallets up to 1,500kg transporting them from the racking to marshalling areas at the end of every aisle ready for loading and unloading by electric counterbalance forklift trucks.
BASF’s Mr. Craig McAllister, logistics manager at the site, explains: “The chemicals and materials that are stored in the warehouse are required 365 days a year as the site must run continuously. Any breaks in supply can be very costly and cause the entire operation to shut down. Our first consideration when replacing the VNA fleet was therefore reliability.”
Reliable and dependable fleet
Yale’s MTC series has been designed with AC technology sealed motors, CANbus technology, and diagnostic capability, which provide increased levels of reliability. Low lifetime cost of ownership is achieved through minimised unscheduled repairs and maintenance. Yale® dealer Forkway, working in the UK alongside Briggs Equipment, secured the deal for the seven VNA trucks and is also responsible for the supply and maintenance of an additional 20 pieces of materials handling equipment on site. Mr. Tim Hunter, operations director at Forkway Group, worked with BASF to identify the exact specification of the equipment needed and to recommend a solution that would deliver the performance demanded by the company.
Mr. Hunter comments: “The solution we provided was based on the best trucks for the specification of the existing warehouse. We identified that the MTC series would offer low cost of ownership, dependability and productivity, combined with operator comfort.
“As part of the solution, Forkway specified an energy efficient recharging facility using the most technologically advanced batteries which pump air into the battery cells increasing energy efficiency. We also included a planned programme of routine maintenance over five years with a dedicated engineer on site to ensure the trucks work to the optimum productivity delivering maximum uptime.”
Ergonomic design for ease of use
Mr. McAllister adds: “Another important consideration was the ease of use and comfort for the operators. With a 24-hour shift pattern, split over four shifts, operating trucks in a quiet warehouse in the middle of the night can be very solitary and we needed to maintain optimum efficiency and keep operators focused and alert.
“The MTC trucks offer great visibility and ease of operation which all add to the health and safety element of operation. The comfortable seat and easily accessible controls also make operation even smoother and help to reduce operator fatigue.” Joystick controls have been specified as an option on all of the trucks and each one is fitted with an MP3 connection point.
Forkway was also instrumental in improving the efficiency of the warehouse and reducing downtime by re-specifying the loops used for the wire guidance of the VNA trucks. Mr. Hunter continues: “Previously, the wire laid in the warehouse floor was one continuous loop. This meant that all four trucks could be out of operation if a problem occurred. Now, we have laid eight separate loops allowing the isolation of a specific area of the warehouse should a problem ever occur, leaving the remaining areas unaffected and operating as normal.”
Mr. McAllister concludes: “We have been very pleased with the dependability and reliability of the trucks and have seen through the MTC series how Yale performs better ergonomically. There is better vision for the operators in the cab and the response from them has been very positive.”