Ron Farr, Director Warehouse Sales, EMEA at Yale Lift Truck Technologies explores the evolving landscape of materials handling in compact warehouse operations, highlighting the need for adaptable solutions and innovative equipment design.
The world of intralogistics is changing rapidly. As e-commerce, urbanisation, sustainability, and cost reduction drive the demand for more efficient and flexible storage solutions, some logistics operators are shifting towards smaller warehouses, high racking, and narrower aisles.
These trends pose new challenges for materials handling operations and innovative products and services are required. Yale Lift Truck Technologies is focused on understanding the needs of small warehouses, translating challenges into opportunities, with problem-solving materials handling equipment and solutions.
Small warehouses can have big benefits
Due to increasing urbanisation and the scarcity of land in densely populated areas, warehouses in, or closer to, urban areas face higher rents, taxes, and regulations, forcing them to optimise their space utilisation and reduce their footprint.
In addition to the challenges posed by increasing urbanisation, it's worth noting that the cost of running a warehouse, in general, has seen a significant uptick. Even outside urban areas, land and property prices are on the rise, making it imperative for those considering warehouse construction or renovation to adopt a more space-efficient approach. This trend has led to a growing preference for smaller warehouses that maximize their square footage by employing high-density racking systems and other innovative space-saving solutions. This not only helps keep operational costs in check but also promotes sustainability through reduced energy consumption, making it a win-win scenario for both cost-conscious businesses and the environment.
However, to make the most of these advantages, materials handling operations that are used to operating on a larger scale may need to adapt their layout, solutions, and technologies to the new environment. For example, optimising the layout of the warehouse to avoid congestion and bottlenecks.
This is one reason why Yale offers the Warehouse Simulator, a powerful tool that can help businesses to plan and optimise warehouse layouts, equipment fleets, and performance. The Warehouse Simulator allows different warehouse scenarios to be designed based on real world situations, and to visualise and analyse them in 2D and 3D. Warehouses can experiment with different Yale® products, configurations, and timings, and see how they affect storage capacity, efficiency, and flexibility. Different scenarios can also be compared to find the best solution for current and future needs. The Warehouse Simulator is one of the ways that Yale and its dealer partners can support intralogistics operations with tight confines and help to achieve business goals and objectives.
In compact spaces, the operator experience matters
Yale warehouse equipment may also help logistics operations maximise efficiency in tight spaces, with solutions designed and engineered to offer excellent manoeuvrability, stability, and ergonomics. For example, the Yale MP20-30X platform pallet truck is a versatile and reliable solution for horizontal transportation and order picking, well suited to smaller spaces. It features a responsive steering system that, in combination with an optional compact chassis, allow it to navigate smoothly in narrow aisles and congested areas. It also features a large operator platform, an ergonomic tiller head, and controls that provide the operator with comfort, control, and exceptional manoeuvrability.
For some, the shift to tight spaces can also pose challenges for safety, productivity, and quality. Reducing the space between the racking and the aisles may increase the risk of collisions, damages, and incidents. By increasing the height of the racking and the load weight, operators may also experience physical and mental strain, potentially affecting their performance and well-being. Narrower aisles, may therefore affect the quality and accuracy of the operations unless adequate safety protocols, staff training, and equipment are implemented.
One solution which may support enhanced operator comfort, visibility, and control in these environments is the Yale MS16S rider stacker. This provides a flexible and efficient solution for stacking and retrieving goods in tight spaces. With excellent access and a variable seat position, this truck provides a comfortable working environment, supporting operator productivity.
The seat allows the operator to switch between seated, leaning, and standing modes, which may help relieve operator fatigue over extended travel runs or shift times. A variety of mast types including free lift 2 and 3 stage masts are available and a transparent guard is fitted as standard.
Yale also delivers products that are specifically suited to materials handling in tight spaces, such as the Yale MTC10-15 very narrow aisle truck (VNA).
This VNA is designed to meet the specific needs of warehouses with tight spaces, offering compact dimensions, high performance, and advanced technology. Designed for high-performance operation in aisles as narrow at 1.5 metres, it can handle various types of loads, heights, and applications. While the Yale VNA is capable of lifting loads of up to 1.5 tonnes and reaching lift heights of 18,300mm, it is also very much at home in applications handling smaller loads, but which simply require optimal space utilisation.
At the core of the Yale VNA’s design are several key features. The spacious cabin with unobscured visibility of the load enables the operator to comfortably work long hours with confidence and high productivity. This truck series also features ergonomic design, assisting ease of operation and operator comfort for heightened productivity. It offers the customer advanced operator controls with adjustable ergonomic positions, allowing seamless operation of multiple functions. A rotating seat, improved visibility, extended cabin depth, and a soft, non-slip floor mat enhance operator comfort and mobility, while soft-touch electronic steering further elevates the ergonomic experience.
To provide precise and smooth positioning within the aisle, the Yale MTC10-15 is equipped with a rail or wire guidance system to allow high performance. With speeds up to 12 km/h and diagonal travel, the MTC comes standard with speed to height to weight sensors, automatically detecting the weight of the load and calculating the optimal travel speed for the given lift height and direction of travel.
For real-time data and fleet optimisation, the MTC10-15, like every Yale product, can also be equipped with a Yale Vision wireless asset management system. This telematics solution provides insights into the truck's performance, location, and status, allowing warehouse managers to streamline fleet utilisation, maintenance, and safety protocols.
Evolving with you for tomorrow’s warehouse
The shift to tight spaces is a reality and a challenge for many materials handling operations and requires innovative products and services to meet it. Yale can provide the benefits and solutions needed to succeed in tight spaces, as they are designed and engineered to offer excellent manoeuvrability, stability, and ergonomics while enhancing operator comfort, visibility, and control. Whether you need to transport, stack, retrieve, or order pick goods in tight spaces, Yale has options for you.
Moreover, the network of independent, local Yale dealers is ready to provide expertise, guidance, and a wide product range to meet changing needs as warehouse operations reduce in size. They combine local industry knowledge with a deep product understanding to provide the advice and consultancy needed to meet the specific needs of different warehouses, both now, and as they evolve. With an independent dealer network, this also enables Yale to focus on what it does best – developing the best equipment solutions and technologies to meet evolving warehouse needs. Whether you need to optimise warehouse space and utilisation or right-size your materials handling fleet for tighter spaces, speak to them now and discover the Yale warehouse solutions that are available to support your needs.
Discover more: www.yale.com.