International Logistics Group (ILG) has grown to become a market leader in fulfilment warehousing and logistics services and since its first Aisle Master articulated truck was put into service in 2013 it has been steadily adding to the fleet. The company now operates seven Aisle Masters across various locations in West Sussex, and has capitalised on the range available to choose specific models tailored to the requirements of each site.
ILG, the winner of the 2017 UKWA Warehouse Company of the Year award, operates seven facilities and serves around 120 clients – predominantly in the fashion, beauty and e-commerce sectors, which are growing rapidly. Three new facilities were opened in 2015/16, with a new flagship site opening up in 2017 to provide another 44,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space. With a total of around 200,000 sq. ft. of warehousing, reliable operation of MHE is crucial to fulfil the promise of quick turnaround for customers.
“We generally pick, pack and ship around 4,000 – 5,000 orders a day, but during peak periods, such as Black Friday, this can rise to 18,000,” said H&S and Facilities Manager Helen Nichols. “Our original Aisle Master replaced another articulated brand at our Gatwick site due to problems with performance and after sales service, and it was so effective that we have acquired at least one each year since then to cope with our expansion and the increased workload. Excellent support and advice from John Kelley at our MHE provider Mexmast has also been a factor for repeat orders.”
Depending on their location, the Aisle Masters work in aisle widths from 1850mm load to load, up to 2020mm, which are dictated by the size of the pallets. Side shift as standard on all the trucks allows quick and convenient fork adjustment from within the cab for ILG’s diverse sized loads. The trucks lift to heights from 5m to 9m and are equally at home inside the warehouse and outside in the yards, which speeds up offloading procedures. “This versatility is a definite advantage over other types of trucks which tend to be limited to either indoor or outdoor use,” said Helen. “In our new sites we have also been able to capitalise on their narrow aisle capability by keeping aisle widths tight for maximum use of space.”
The majority of ILG’s pallets weigh less than 1t, so 1.5t capacity electric powered Aisle Masters were chosen across the board. Four standard 15E models are deployed at two facilities which stock general merchandise and make up, body care and high end accessory brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, This Works and Meli Melo. In another unit a narrow head Aisle Master model was selected for its ability to work in the narrow pre-existing aisle widths. The most recent additions are “slope nose” design trucks for the new East Grinstead facility. “We trialled the other articulated makes for this site but Aisle Master once again came out as the clear favourite ,” said Warehouse Manager Darren Bowen, who has over twenty-five years’ experience in the business. “They are fantastic trucks, they are smoother and easier to operate and less cumbersome when turning in the aisles.”
Operator satisfaction and of course safety is an important issue for Helen, who values the workforce’s opinion. The Aisle Masters get a definite thumbs up from the 30 drivers, who receive training from Mexmast trained, in-house instructors.
“Recent rapid growth and the fast pace of operations at all our locations is inherently demanding on our handling equipment,” said Managing Director Mike Stephenson. “John at Mexmast understands our issues and should there be a problem, which thankfully is very rare, it is quickly sorted. The Aisle Masters’ reliability and flexibility enables us to deliver the goods to our customers to ensure that their own businesses thrive. We aim for the highest professional standards of warehousing, which was recognised by the UKWA this year and these forklifts definitely contributed to this success.”