When running a demanding operation that requires efficiency and speed to meet customer expectations, having a trusted partner who understands the specific needs of your business is key to success. As the materials handling equipment supplier to Stelrad for over 15 years, Yale sub-dealer, Forkway, is best placed to advise and guide the company on the most efficient operation in their warehouse and distribution centre.
As the UK’s largest manufacturer of radiators, Stelrad handles 50,000 customer deliveries per year from its South Yorkshire distribution centre. To maintain its industry-leading 99% ‘Customer On-Time Delivery’ status, the company requires a reliable solution to maintain productivity levels. When Stelrad recently expanded its National Distribution Centre and required a new materials handling equipment solution, it turned to Yale sub-dealer, Forkway.
“Forkway is our sole supplier for materials handling equipment and has played a significant role in the development of our warehousing and distribution operation,” said Paul Schofield, Warehouse and Distribution Manager for Stelrad. “At Stelrad, we have specific needs that require the supply of equipment across a wide range of types.”
The Client: Stelrad
Stelrad, part of the Ideal Stelrad Group, produces over 2.5 million radiators a year for the UK market. The company’s 17-acre National Distribution Centre is ideally located near to the M1 motorway for smooth distribution to customers across the UK.
The National Distribution Centre was originally built in 2003 to process and handle the radiator stock as it went out for delivery. Thanks to the steady growth of the company, there was a need to extend the distribution centre to meet growing demand. An additional 10,000 square feet full height warehouse extension expanded the site to 160,000 square feet, which can now house 17,000 pallet locations and racking up to 11m in height.
To ensure the premises were fully maximised to maintain productivity levels and the customer delivery success rate of Stelrad, a new materials handling solution was required. “For us to achieve our goals, the equipment needs to be running throughout the 24-hour shift period,” said Paul.
Yale improves driver productivity
After an initial consultation period to understand Stelrad’s new requirements, Forkway proposed an extensive and customised solution throughout the distribution centre to minimise delays in handling and despatching stock.
Six heavy-duty Yale® MR20HD Reach Trucks were delivered to the Mexborough site, offering Stelrad higher travel, and lift and lower speeds. The operator’s wellbeing is at the heart of the ergonomics of the MR Series, with ease of access provided by a low, wide step, integrated grab handles and an adjustable steering wheel position to maintain operator comfort throughout the whole shift. Push button 360° steering provides greater driving control. Forkway recommended that the Yale MR20HD units included the optional Pedestrian Awareness Lights to help pedestrians working around the trucks. Stelrad has already noticed an improvement in driver productivity, with the monitors and HD cameras at the top of the 11m beam allowing precise pallet handling for the operator.
To cope with the various pallet sizes handled in the National Distribution centre, a bespoke fleet of 18 Yale MP20X series platform pallet trucks were fitted with longer forks and repositioned load wheels, minimising damage during pickup and transportation.
Expanding the solution from distribution to manufacturing
Having found a suitable solution for Stelrad’s National Distribution Centre, thoughts then turned to how to maximise productivity on the production line in the manufacturing facility. Forkway recommended the Yale GLP18VX Veracitor to lift radiator fins onto the production line, alongside three Yale MP20X platform pallet trucks to transport finished goods to the packaging machine, ready for dispatch to the distribution hub. The Yale solution provides Stelrad a seamless operation from beginning to end.
Close ties minimise fleet downtime
To enable Stelrad to maintain its fast delivery times to its customers, downtime of the fleet needs to be kept to a minimum, something Forkway understands due to the longevity of their working relationship. A knowledgeable service team working in perfect synergy with the team at Stelrad keeps the business on track.
“All service and breakdown tasks are undertaken by service technicians who have been coming to the site for many years and have an in-depth knowledge of the trucks and a great relationship with the operators, meaning that unplanned downtime is kept to a bare minimum. All service correspondence and calls are handled locally rather than through a national call centre that would have little or no real knowledge of our operation,” added Paul.
“The service team has initiated a tailored materials handling equipment service programme that demonstrates their total understanding of our operational requirements. I have always been impressed with Forkway’s consultative approach of looking at our operational requirements and proposing solutions tailored to suit our needs,” added Paul.