Flexis rise to the baking challenge
Based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, industrial baker Signature Flatbreads produces a range of speciality bakery products including tortillas, naans, sandwich flatbreads, pittas, pancakes and crumpets that it supplies to all of the UK’s leading high supermarket retailers for sale under various ‘own brand’ labels and under its ‘Deli Kitchen’ and ‘Planet Deli’ brands.
Strong growth and the planned introduction of a number of new product lines, meant that extra manufacturing capacity was required at the company’s production and storage facility and, after a full review of the existing operations, it was decided that the buildings that were being used to store packaging materials and finished products should be combined to free up one of the units for production purposes.
“We have been growing rapidly, so needed to make maximum use of our existing facilities,” says Gary Cosh, Signature Flatbread’s manager responsible for warehousing and logistics.
The introduction of a narrow aisle racking system within what had been the finished goods warehouse has increased the unit’s pallet capacity by over 30% and means that both finished goods and packaging materials can now be held within the one building creating additional capacity to grow the business.
In turn, the former packaging store has been converted and now houses additional production lines which deliver the new products and extra capacity required to meet Signature Flatbread’s current output requirements.
The racking cube within the revamped packaging materials and finished goods store provides over 2000 pallet locations.
While there is a rapid throughput of packaging and finished product, the unit is served by just two Flexi AC1000 Flexi articulated forklifts designed and built by FSDF member Narrow Aisle Ltd.
“Because the Flexi can stack in the very narrow aisles and deliver the palletised goods to their production or dispatch point, no other equipment is required and double handling is eliminated,” explains Narrow Aisle Ltd’s commercial director, John Maguire.
Given the relatively short shelf life of bakery products, as well as the company’s drive to supply its customers with the freshest breads possible, finished products only spend a few hours in storage.
“As soon as we put them away, it’s time to pick them and get them out of the door,” says Gary Cosh.
With such a rapid and constant flow of stock through the store, it is vital that the materials handling equipment used on site delivers maximum up-time.
“The Flexi electric-powered articulated trucks’ reputation for exceptional reliability and rapid battery change-over capability, were a significant influence on our decision to choose Flexis,” says Gary Cosh.
The Flexi AC1000 trucks in operation at Signature Flatbreads both benefit from Narrow Aisle’s simple cassette battery changing and 6.5 hour charging technology that delivers multi-shift availability and ensures the trucks are available around the clock.
The trucks have been provided on an inclusive contract package such that all planned maintenance, safety inspections and repairs are covered.
“The Flexis have performed at full capacity since they joined our fleet and, while we have the support of Narrow Aisle’s extensive service support back-up to call upon if we have a problem, so far we have not had a need to call out a service engineer,” adds Gary Cosh.