Significant demand for improved storage capacity at existing facilities

1st February 2013 By: Chantelle Kotze

In the last few years industrial equipment company Eqstra Industrial Equipment (EIE) has noticed a significant demand from companies for increased storage space, particularly, at their existing facilities, mainly owing to the high cost of relocation or of building new facilities.

There has also been an increase in greenfield projects requiring narrow-aisle storage systems with lift heights of more than 13 m because of the increase in the cost of land and building costs, says Toyota Forklift national warehousing equipment manager Eugene Steenhuisen.

EIE supplies a range of narrow-aisle electric powered materials handling equipment to the warehousing and logistics industry to improve storage space. These trucks enable users to reduce the width of their operating aisles to only 1 600 mm and use the full height of the building or the potential height of a new building.

EIE, which is part of JSE-listed Eqstra Holdings, supplies UK-based manufacturer Flexi Narrow Aisle’s range of Flexi articulated forklifts and Toyota Forklift Material Handling divisions BT Warehousing Equipment and Raymond ranges of very narrow-aisle electric warehousing equipment.

Steenhuisen says the BT Warehousing Equipment, Raymond and the Flexi narrow-aisle forklifts, which are designed to meet inter- national standards for materials handling equipment, can provide between 20% and 35% more storage capacity when compared with conventional forklifts.

“The very narrow-aisle BT Warehousing Equipment, Raymond turret trucks and the Flexi articulated forklifts also have high throughput rates of more than 30 pallets an hour when used in correctly designed applica- tions,” says Steenhuisen.

With a market share of more than 30% of the materials handling equipment market in South Africa and proof of its ability to improve warehousing and storage space, EIE recently supplied a Cape Town-based food ingredients manufacturer with six Flexi articulated forklifts to increase the number of pallets stored in its facility.

This resulted in the manufacturer being able to reduce the aisle width in its warehouse from 3 200 mm to 1 900 mm and increase pallet storage by more than 20%.

The Flexi range of narrow-aisle forklifts features lift capacities of between 1.5 t and 2.5 t and lift heights of more than 13 m. Flexi’s narrow-aisle forklifts can be used in various applications in the receiving bay and in the storage system, while their road-to-rack-and-back ability eliminates the need for secondary feeder equipment, which is commonly needed in turret truck operations.

“Unlike turret trucks, Flexi forklifts do not require rail or wire guidance systems or specialised floors in aisles as narrow as 1 600 mm,” explains Steenhuisen.

Meanwhile, BT Warehousing Equipment also supplies handling equipment ranging from simple hand pallet trucks to powered pallet trucks, stackers, order pickers and reach trucks, as well as high-density radio-shuttle systems.

Steenhuisen says BT Warehousing Equipment also launched a new reach truck in November 2012 that can operate indoors and outdoors and lift up to 7.5 m. It can also effectively do the work of a forklift and a reach truck, and can be fitted with a cab for added operator protection, he notes.

The materials handling equipment supplied by EIE is suited to internal storage and handling applications, such as the horizontal transport, storage and retrieval of pallets, the handling of long or awkward loads, as well as order picking and high-density storage, all of which are most common in the manufacturing industry and in distribution centres, says Steenhuisen.

EIE has supplied BT Warehousing Equipment and Flexi materials handling equipment to engineering stores, production lines, warehouses, freezer facilities and distribution centres.

BT Warehousing Equipment’s reach truck range features a tilting cab that reduces neck strain as the operator is able to view the loads at various heights, a transitional lift control on the reach truck mast to enable the mast to travel seamlessly through the lift stages – resulting in fast and stable load handling – and a wide-view mast for improved operator visibility, says Steenhuisen.

The equipment also features a fork-mounted camera system, with a high-resolution liquid crystal display monitor in the cab to enable safer handling when undertaking high lifts, height selection and load weight indication, while heated cabs for cold storage environ- ments and the Toyota I_Site fleet and operator management system are also available as optional features of both the reach and turret trucks.

Meanwhile, the Flexi range of forklifts is equipped with cantilevered overhead guards, wide-view masts for improved operator visibility, camera systems, laser-height selection for easy storage and retrieval of loads at height, heavy-duty slewing rings on articulation units, as well as rigid masts featuring tilting fork carriages for lift heights of more than 13 m.

EIE operates from six branches, four depots and many dealerships in Southern Africa, with representation in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.