Flexi Safe and Fast Operation
As more and more warehouse operators realise the space saving benefits of the articulated truck concept, sales are rising significally.
But, despite the large (and growing) number of articulated trucks in operation worldwide and their proven ability to maximise storage and handling efficiency, some potential users still perceive that if they invest in the concept that they may be difficult to operate when compared to, say, a traditional counterbalanced or moving mast reach truck.
John Maguire, sales and marketing director of Flexi Narrow Aisle – manufacturer of the Flexi articulated truck range – remarks that these perceived ‘operator difficulty’ concerns are sometimes a result of poor design both of some articulated trucks and often the storage rack system.
He comments: “Flexi trucks are in use at thousands of sites in 40 different countries around the world and our sales have been driven to a large extent by the fact that operators enjoy working with their Flexi trucks. A truck operator at one of our customers’ sites told me recently that it is easier to stack pallets with a Flexi than it is to park a car!”
He continues: “People seem to have all sorts of misconceptions about articulated trucks. I have heard them described as`difficult to drive’, `likely to damage loads and racks’ and ‘slower than other truck types’.
We are pioneers in this sector and have been designing and building Flexi trucks for over 20 years. In truth 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 – even the battery changing process is state of the art.”
The Flexi range includes seven different models and each has been designed and developed to allow loads weighing up 2.5 tonnes to be lifted to heights of over 14 metres safely and efficiently.
For example, 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, Flexi trucks unique architecture ensures that the truck’s chassis has a smooth sight line to each side which means the operator can see exactly where the outer radius of the truck is in relation to the pallet racks and loads in the aisle.
“It is impossible for a Flexi operator to damage loads or pallet racks when turning so, after a short conversion training, forklift operators are soon able to achieve optimum safe productivty rates,’ says John Maguire.
“This narrow rear axle development across the range is even more important when travelling at speed down narrow rack aisles. Trucks with wide wheel arches are prone to striking pallet loads on the ground level and these `high speed’ incidents can often lead to major product and rack damage,” he adds.
The Flexi’s `True Radius’ no wheel arch design and minimal use of plastic covers and other easy to damage components, means that repair costs incurred due to truck damage are minimal. Indeed, 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.
To ensure that all drivers and warehouse operators not only get the best from their Flexi but work safely, Flexi Training www.flexi-training.com offers a number of ‘on the job, training courses. The courses are approved by HSE through an authorised training board and conducted by factory trained and registered instructors at a user’s premises or at Flexi Training’s centre in Droitwich.
The Flexi range includes trucks from only 1 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 it’s 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 and this is often subject to floor flatness being to ‘superflat’ tolerance.
Every Flexi truck is built with `Tier One’ quality European MHE components for ultimate reliability and long parts warranties. This strategy has allowed Flexi Narrow Aisle to offer the most comprehensive long term warranties on its products, with parts warranties of up to 5 years are offered.
Major fleet operators like the Flexi as its operational costs are very low, due to its high components and build quality. The trucks require a scheduled service only once every 500 hours, this means uptime is maximised. In addition due to the `True Radius’ no wheel arch design and the minimum use of plastic covers and other easy to damage components the incidence and cost of fleet repair due to damage is minimal. Most Flexis finish typical 5 year contract hire agreements with nil or minimal return costs due to their robust `damage’ resistant design.
No wonder the Flexi range has such a great reputation for reliability and low cost of ownership in the logistics industry.
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