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Understanding articulated trucks and warehouse design

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article image Flexi G4 2T Narrow Aisle Articulated Forklift
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There is an increasing preference for articulated trucks among warehouse operators, primarily for the equipment’s space-saving benefits.

However, despite the large number of articulated trucks in operation worldwide and their proven ability to maximise storage and handling efficiency, potential users continue to have a perception about the difficulty in operating the articulated range in comparison with a traditional counterbalanced or moving mast reach truck.

John Maguire, sales and marketing director of Flexi narrow aisle articulated forklifts observes that these perceived ‘operator difficulty’ concerns are sometimes a result of poor design – both of some articulated truck models as well as the storage rack system.

Flexi trucks are in use at thousands of sites in 40 different countries around the world with sales driven to a large extent by the fact that operators enjoy working with their Flexi trucks. Commenting that people seem to have all sorts of misconceptions about articulated trucks, he said that Flexi is a pioneer in this sector, and has been designing and building the articulated trucks for over 20 years. Every aspect of the Flexi’s design concept has been optimised to ensure easy driving, safe and highly productive pallet movements, and long battery shift life in addition to a simple battery changing process.

The Flexi narrow aisle articulated forklifts range includes seven different models with each designed and developed to allow loads weighing up to 2.5 tonnes to be lifted to heights of over 14 metres safely and efficiently.

Wheel arches have been designed out of the Flexi’s unique ‘True Radius’ chassis, which means that the risk of pallet rack or product damage when turning at 90° in the aisle has been eliminated, no matter which rack aisle or pallet load configuration has been chosen.

The Flexi’s front wheel drive design eliminates the need for wide rear wheel arches that protrude out to each side, ensuring that the truck’s chassis has a smooth sight line to each side, which allows the operator to see exactly where the outer radius of the truck is in relation to the pallet racks and loads in the aisle.

John Maguire says it is impossible for a Flexi operator to damage loads or pallet racks when turning; after a short conversion training, forklift operators are soon able to achieve optimum safe productivity rates.

The Flexi’s ‘True Radius’ no wheel arch design and minimal use of plastic covers and other easy to damage components, minimise repair costs incurred due to truck damage. Thanks to their robust design and easy-to-operate functionality, most Flexis finish typical five-year contract hire agreements with zero or minor return costs.

Flexi Training offers a number of on-the-job training courses to ensure all drivers and warehouse operators get the best from their Flexi along with safe work practices. The courses are approved by HSE through an authorised training board and conducted by factory trained and registered instructors at the user’s premises or at Flexi Training’s centre in Droitwich.

The Flexi range includes trucks from just one metre wide to allow safe operation and easy driving even for inexperienced operators. The operator training can take place on the job because the unique True Radius no wide wheel arch design eliminates the possibility of product or pallet rack damage in storage aisles.

In Germany, for instance, the strict DIN aisle security standard for Very Narrow Aisle operation can easily be achieved by the Flexi, as the no wheel arch truck design provides maximum security clearance when travelling at high speed down the aisle.

The Flexi AC power system powered by market leading Zapi and Schabmueller motor technology, allows travel speeds up to 12kph in aisle without the need for superflat floors. Unlike traditional man-up very narrow aisle trucks, the Flexi does not require speed reductions due to the fitment of inductive wire guidance systems, which typically due to safe braking restrictions only allow travel speeds of less than 8kph.

Every Flexi truck is built with Tier One quality European MHE components for ultimate reliability and long parts warranties of up to 5 years.

The Flexi range has a great reputation for reliability and low cost of ownership in the logistics industry. Major fleet operators prefer the Flexi for its low operational costs thanks to its high component and build quality. The trucks require a scheduled service only once every 500 hours, maximising uptime. Features such as the True Radius no wheel arch design and minimum use of plastic covers and other easily damaged components minimise the incidence and cost of fleet repair. Most Flexis finish typical 5-year contract hire agreements with nil or minimal return costs due to a robust damage-resistant design.

Flexilift Australia specialises in the sales and service of a wide range of forklifts.

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