Timber merchant RH Wilson says it has improved operations through the use of multidirectional forklifts from Combilift.
RH Wilson (Lakes) is an independent privately owned timber importing company, run by joint owners Ann and Rodney Dalton. When they took over the business in 2013, one of Rodney’s priorities was to improve the efficiency of storage, handling and stock location procedures. Thanks to a combination of Combilift multidirectional forklifts and racking in the 40,000ft² warehousing areas, some “startling results” have been achieved.
The company specialises in grading timber for specific end use, whether it be redwood and hardwood for joineries making doors and windows, or whitewood for pallet and packaging manufacturers. It delivers its wide range of products “from Guernsey to Glasgow” from its base in Kirkby Stephen and also offers bespoke sawing, x-cutting, grading, planning and moulding facilities.
Packs of products were previously block stacked and moved around with 2-directional sideloaders or counterbalance trucks. “We did a detailed study of how long it was taking us to retrieve a specific pack and were alarmed at the figures,” said Rodney. “We were spending a substantial amount of time a day moving packs around and needed at least two employees to do this so it really added up in terms of hours and manpower. My first thought was out with free stacking, in with as much racking as possible and then find a manoeuvrable forklift capable of working in tight spaces.”
Following advice from Steve Tomlinson of Combilift and racking specialists, the new system was installed in October 2018.
“The time saving has been enormous,” said Rodney. “We are down to five minutes per pack — or four minutes 23 seconds to be precise! This makes a huge difference when dealing with the four to seven artics a day that we typically load or unload. Quick stock location enables us to adhere to just in time delivery schedules. A knock-on bonus is that we now only need 30 minutes for the monthly stocktake compared to around two and a half hours previously.”
According to the company, the new racking enabled three extra working aisles to be created, with widths of 2,370mm – down from over 3,000mm needed with the old system — and going to a height of 5.5m also created more vertical storage. 300 packs of timber with lengths ranging from just over 2m to almost 6m can now be accommodated. The 4t capacity of newest of the two Combilifts on site, a C4000 diesel powered model, copes easily when the heaviest 3.5t loads need to be lifted to the top bays. It is fitted with guide rollers for guided aisle operation, making it quick and easy for drivers to access and travel down the aisles. This system also enhances safety procedures as well as reducing the risk of product damage.
Rodney was familiar with the Combilift brand as he had a C3000 model at a previous business and was impressed with its reliability as well as the engineering, quality and the general ethos of the Irish manufacturer: “I like the relative simplicity of Combilift’s products – more high tech can just mean more problems in my experience – and our local service engineer finds the truck straightforward to maintain.
“The racking and the Combilift were not the cheapest options on the market, but as I have found out over many years it can cost money trying to save it, so we are extremely happy with the way this has worked out. So much so that we are looking at purchasing another Combilift when we embark on the next phase of our planned expansion.”