From its base in Caerphilly, Wales, longstanding Gwent Mechanical Handling customer Bearmach is a worldwide distributor of OEM and aftermarket parts and accessories suitable for Land Rover vehicles. Established over 60 years ago, the current 130-strong team also ships merchandise, books and technical manuals to the global Land Rover community. To ensure the seamless and efficient relocation and replenishment of stock between its two warehouses, which together have a footprint of almost 100,000m², Bearmach now operates a fleet of Aisle Master articulated forklifts from the Irish manufacturer Combilift.
Before the first Aisle Master was operational, Bearmach used a combination of forklifts, mainly counterbalance models, some of which could only operate in certain areas due to their various sizes as well as the disparity of aisle widths across the storage facilities. Steve Jones, Sales Director of Gwent Mechanical Handling advised that overall efficiency could be much improved by using trucks capable of working in narrower, standardised aisles. Two articulated brands were brought in for a demo, and the Aisle Master proved to be the drivers’ preferred choice when it came to issues such as the in-cab ergonomics.
Four more Aisle Masters followed over the years, which has enabled Bearmach to streamline handling procedures and keep up with growth fuelled by increased internet sales activities. At one point the company thought it would have to relocate as space was getting ever tighter, but the trucks’ narrow aisle capability enabled previous aisle widths of around 3.2m to be cut to just 2m, adding an extra 1,000 pallet locations. Steve Jones: “Gwent Mechanical Handling has over 30 years of unrivalled expertise and experience in the most efficient use of available space, and as was the case with Bearmach, a number of our customers have been able to avoid the potential disruption and expense of purchasing additional warehouse space.”
The electric Aisle Master 20SE models with a 2,000kg capacity, 1030mm wide chassis and a lift height of 6m, travel between the two warehouses, relocating stock in euro and standard pallets from one location to another, replenishing minimum or zero stock as well as moving stock to bulk locations. At the moment they work mainly indoors, but as they are specifically designed to be all-purpose trucks, Steve Jones is planning to recommend that they replace the counterbalance trucks that are currently used for yard work when these come to the end of their operational life. “An Aisle Master can do everything that a counterbalance truck can do, but that is not the case the other way round,” he points out.
According to Andy Taylor, Operations Manager at Bearmach, the Aisle Masters have massively improved operations over time, also due to their speed of operation, extreme reliability and minimal downtime. Driver satisfaction and safety is also of vital importance and the original driver preference has proved to be a sound decision. “Operator feedback has always been positive, the trucks are easy to manoeuvre within the narrower aisles, and the height of the cab offers 360-degree visibility for good awareness of the surroundings.”
“We look after the welfare of the trucks, with checks after every 500 hours, and offer a same day service if required,” said Steve Jones. “We have enjoyed a great working relationship with Bearmach over the years and are pleased that we could help them consolidate their operations so successfully.”