Origin is a UK designer and manufacturer of bespoke aluminium bi-folding, sliding and residential doors and windows. With manufacturing facilities in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, they sell through partners who have showrooms nationwide. The company’s continuous growth and diversification since it was founded in 2001 has necessitated an ongoing need for more warehouse capacity and along with this, the requirement for more efficient handling and storage procedures.
The latest acquisition in one of the warehouses which holds material ready to go to production is a Combi-STE, a multidirectional, stand-on narrow aisle forklift from the Irish manufacturer Combilift, which has greatly improved the storage of incoming aluminium extrusions compared to previous methods. Together, with newly installed cantilever racking, an increase in overall storage capacity of around 30% has been achieved.
Other multidirectional Combilift models, chosen for their versatility and manoeuvrability, have been hard at work at Origin for a number of years now: two three tonne capacity C3000 trucks offload deliveries outside and a 2.5 tonne Combi-CB compact counterbalance design truck is used to pick stillages of materials and take them to the manufacturing facilities.
“Before we had the STE and the racking, we were stacking boxes of profiles on top of each other, up to six high, which meant we were constantly having to move them around to find the ones we needed,” said supply chain director Oliver Ginger. “As well as not making the most of our available space, this was obviously time consuming as it entailed a lot of lifting and manoeuvring with the forklifts.”
Streamlined handling and storage
Enhanced safety was a further issue, and Oliver and his team worked closely on the project with Combilift and racking supplier Wickens to identify the best forklift model, racking type and overall layout for the job. With the new system in place, once the offloaded packs have been deposited at the entrance of the warehouse with the C3000, the STE takes over to put them in the racking. “It was quite a long job to make sure we had everything 100% right in the planning stage,” said Oliver, “but as we deliver around 3,500 profiles a week to production, streamlined handling and storage is a vital element of our business. We are now in a position to keep up with the demanding schedules.”
Aisle widths between the bays are just 2.3m, and guide rollers fitted to the electric powered STE enable it to travel smoothly and quickly down the guided aisles with no risk of product damage. The depth of the racking arms was set at 1,400mm and the platform of the STE was also customised to this size in accordance with the requirement to store two packs on each arm for maximum storage density. This has enabled 264 boxes to be accommodated in the eight lines of racking. The truck’s three tonne capacity copes easily with lifting the heaviest 900kg packs, two at a time, to the top racking height of 5.5m. Further features include blue spot safety lighting and a camera which assists operators when they are placing or picking in the top racks. According to Oliver, the operators love the new STE and find it easy to drive.
Combilift’s stand-on range was designed specifically for handling long loads in confined spaces and as such was the ideal choice for Origin where products range in length from 5 to 6.5m. It is a popular choice for companies where a lot of picking is required as it is quicker and more convenient for operators to enter and exit the low-level cab compared to ride-on forklifts. An available option in the range is a sit-down cab with a diagonal seat which offers enhanced driver comfort if long shifts are required, without compromising on aisle widths.