Narrow Aisle Ltd – the VNA materials handling solutions specialist – recently hosted a series of distributor open days at its UK Flexi Truck manufacturing plant in Great Bridge, West Midlands.
Attended by some 150 visitors, the three open days gave guests the opportunity to see some of the recent additions to the Flexi Truck range of articulated warehouse trucks and hear how the latest generation of Flexi Truck models are helping today’s logistics operations meet their sustainability goals.
In an address to guests, John Maguire, Narrow Aisle Ltd.’s managing director, explained that the company is focusing on the further development of environmentally conscious battery-powered trucks with renewed emphasis on lithium-ion technology which, he said, is ideally suited to the needs of some modern, 24/7 logistics and e-fulfilment hubs.
“Over the last three years or so there has been a major change in attitudes to forklift power sources. Lithium-ion battery technology has come of age at precisely the right time to meet the market’s environmental, productivity and safety demands,” Maguire, commented.
“The radically different on-demand charging regime that lithium-ion offers is ideally suited to interface with on-site ‘solar’ power generation systems, as the demand is spread across the working day rather than concentrated at one time and drawn from the costly mains supply.
“Of course, lead acid batteries remain a highly efficient option for electric forklifts and many electric Flexi Truck lift trucks still feature this type of battery. But lithium-ion technology is now regarded as ideally suited to the needs of modern, 24/7 logistics and e-fulfilment operations.”
Narrow Aisle’s Flexi LiTHiON range of lithium-ion powered articulated warehouse trucks require zero maintenance and deliver extended multi-shift availability – making the trucks the ideal ‘green’ energy solution for modern order fulfilment operations, retail warehouses, temperature controlled stores, chemical stores and automotive manufacturing facilities.
Maguire added: “We see it as essential that our product offering constantly evolves and, of course, sustainability drives much of our research and development thinking. More and more customers are targeting zero emissions across their business so it is critical that Narrow Aisle has a range that helps them to achieve their sustainability goals.”
In addition an example of the new generation of automated picking robot technology that can help ecommerce operators increase productivity by up to 50% was presented to demonstrate the ease with which these Cobotic picking machines can interface with Flexi Trucks in a very narrow aisle storage system.
The robots and pickers work alongside Flexi Trucks safely in VNA aisles assembling customer orders. This functionality is not available in traditional VNA warehouses because it is deemed unsafe for low level order pickers to work in the same aisleway as guided man-up VNA order picking machines.
After enjoying a barbecue lunch and entertainment, guests toured Narrow Aisle’s Flexi Truck production facility. Capacity at the Black Country site, which Narrow Aisle has occupied since the mid-1980s, continues to be increased to enable the growing demand for Flexi Trucks – both from within the UK and worldwide – to be met.
Maguire concluded: “Our customers need to trust that we are able to provide Flexi trucks on fast lead times when they require them and, as sales of trucks in the Flexi Truck range continue to grow, we have to ensure that our production facilities are able to keep pace with demand. This means that we need to keep investing in our UK manufacturing site to support the dedicated work of our hugely skilled engineering teams.”