As property prices increase, many applications are maximising their storage capacity while minimising costs. Hyster® trucks can help overcome the particular challenges of taking racking higher, even when handling large loads, explains Juergen Emmenegger.
[Q]: Is switching to a narrow aisle warehouse layout a good solution for all applications?
[Juergen Emmenegger]: We see many different, demanding applications experiencing a need to increase their available storage in the same warehouse footprint. In a racking application, a typical counterbalance truck can require just over 50% of the building floor space for manoeuvring. Therefore, switching to a narrow aisle configuration supported by a Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) truck, or taking racking higher, can be the most effective solution. Already popular in the grocery sector and retail order picking environments, Hyster® VNA trucks and High Level Order Pickers can help to support various applications handling loads within constrained aisle dimensions.
[Q]: There are clear benefits for palletised goods, but is it possible to handle bigger, bulkier loads with a VNA?
[JE]: The strong Hyster® C1.0 – 1.5L VNA truck series can lift a maximum load of 1.5 tonnes to nearly 17 metres, depending on the model. This truck suits many different applications, but is particularly well suited for those handling difficult loads. In a VNA environment, the operator is up with the load being stored or retrieved, so optimum visibility is provided. This significantly reduces product damage and can improve operational efficiency over ‘man-down’ solutions.
Specific Hyster® VNA solutions are available for handling products of unconventional shapes and sizes, including larger loads. For example, we have a model that is exclusively configured for handling rolls with the fork carriage replaced by arms that cradle the roll shaft. Another customer handles heavy doors of up to 2 metres long in their warehouse, so the VNA has been delivered with a longer turret head to accommodate these large, unwieldy loads.
There are also Hyster® VNA machines which have been especially configured for the spirits-industry and include a tilt option to enable easy turning of casks during the conditioning phase of storage. A high degree of attachment stability is needed on these trucks as the casks are rolled over the very tip of the forks.
Another example is a customer which needs to store mattresses, washing machines, sofas and other large and heavy goods at a height of 10m in their warehouse cube. To support this application, the sturdy Hyster® C1.5L VNA Truck has been modified with a walk-on platform and lattice gates on both sides. The lattice gates can be opened a full 2.7 metres giving a two-man team walk-on access to the racking for large items, such as superking size mattresses. The strong mast can handle a 3-metre long metal cage and a load of 800kg in any location on the platform. Even at 10m, the cage moves only minimally, giving the team a stable environment in which to pick and put away stock efficiently.
[Q]: What other options are available for order picking applications?
[JE]: The Hyster® High Level Order Picker can be similarly customised with a platform to suit the needs of applications that need to lift bulky but light loads. For example, we currently have a customer using this solution to handle motorbike frames in their warehouse.
With an added platform measuring 2.2 metres wide by 2 metres long, the Hyster® K1.0H order picker can lift 300kg up to 5 metres, or 500 kg up to 3 metres. The platform also makes handling easier by using perimeter rollers which allow larger items to be dragged onto the machine.
[Q]: Are there any limitations to consider when going ‘narrow aisle’?
[JE]: The biggest challenge for any narrow aisle application is always finding ways to lift the load capacity and dimensions to the height required in the available aisle width. Truck width plays a major part in this, as does mast and chassis construction. The patented Quad-Form and Tri-Form mast designs of the Hyster® VNA truck require no tie-backs but still provide deflection resistance. This promotes greater residual capacities at height for any given truck width and means applications can achieve handling for the given capacity requirement in a narrower aisle.
VNA trucks can also help overcome space limitations in order-picking applications where aisles are often designed wider to allow two trucks to pass one another. With two lean Hyster® VNA machines, aisle dimensions can still be reduced even though multiple trucks are operating in a single aisle.
The Hyster® VNA truck also delivers a low cost of ownership due to its efficient energy management system which offers a long shift life. In addition to the customisation options for handling bulky loads at height, other benefits can include a touch screen interface, an RFID-based position management and behavioural control system, and rail or wire guidance.
[Q]: With so many options available for maximising space, how can Warehouse Managers ensure they select the right equipment?
[JE]: Warehouse simulation software from Hyster can be used to help customers design their warehouse for optimal flow, efficiency and product mix. This takes space limitations or congestion issues into account to help identify solutions with a low cost of operation, while achieving the peak flow rates required. With consumers wanting more choice and quicker deliveries, better warehouse design has never been more important.
Hyster warehouse equipment is supported globally with a network of local distribution partners helping to ensure customers’ specific application needs are met.
Juergen Emmenegger is VNA and Warehouse Systems Specialist for Hyster.