Bruce Peatman, Managing Director at Hubtex Australia, tells MHD all about the materials handling company’s Bendi Articulated Forklift, which can increase storage capacity plus save time and money in cold storage facilities.
Hubtex is no stranger to dealing with the cold chain sector. Over the past 20 years, it has been providing unique materials handling solutions to operate in challenging cold store freezer environments. Its range of Bendi Articulated Forklifts and Very Narrow Aisle machines can operate in cooling rooms with temperatures of minus 30 degrees.
Cold storage facilities by nature are expensive to build and operate, especially as the cost-of-living crisis continues, and the effects of increasing inflation and interest rates are felt worldwide.
As these energy, land, and labour costs rise, refrigerated warehouse and DC owners are looking for ways to maximise their cubed capacity with dense storage. The versatile Bendi Articulated Forklift operates in aisle widths similar to turret trucks but doesn’t require special floor flatness or expensive wire guidance.
By reducing the aisle sizes in a warehouse, from a 3300mm clear aisle with a typical reach truck, to 1800mm clear aisle, operators can potentially fit 30 to 40 per cent more products within the same cubed area or reduce the storage space required. In a cold store this results in significant cost reduction, saving a business money.
BENEFITTING FROM BATTERY-RUN SOLUTIONS
Freezer room facilities need clean, low emission handling equipment. Battery-powered electric forklifts like Bendi provide this with the use of energy efficient AC technology which help extend battery life in these low temperatures.
Hubtex uses the latest Curtis Electronics controllers, which are the most efficient on the market, and don’t affect the regulated temperatures in the freezers. It mainly uses lead acid batteries and some lithium-ion batteries – with none of these causing heat generation.
“There are multiple benefits to using battery-electric machines like the Bendi Articulated Forklift,” explains Bruce Peatman, Managing Director at Hubtex. “The equipment has low operating costs; a longer life and the batteries are recyclable.
“The batteries we use in our materials handling solutions are recycled by the manufacturer in Germany, and this is part of our effort to contribute to our sustainability goals. While we source some of the components used to build our machines from smaller, bespoke manufacturers – most are from the industry’s major players.”
In cold storage facilities, Hubtex uses special hoses and freezer-compatible lubricants and oils. Bendi Articulated Forklifts have low temperature specific components specific to cold store environments to protect the forklift without impacting the refrigerated environment.
DELIVERING SAFETY THROUGH DESIGN
Key features of the Bendi are designed with safety in mind. Bendi’s unique twin rear wheel drive has been developed to ensure traction and braking is optimised in slippery or icy conditions, minimising the risk of accidents or damage to products and racking. “Unlike other forklift types, the Bendi has soft compound rubber tyres which results in higher grip – further improving safety,” says Bruce.
Driving a Bendi is very intuitive, and with all the truck’s movement occurring in front of the operator, safety is greatly improved compared to most other forklift types. The Bendi doesn’t need to turn through 90 degrees so there is no ‘rear end swing’ which reduces the risk of damage to product and racking.
The front mast assembly is the only part of the forklift that turns giving the operator clear visibility of the load because it is handled to the side of the forklift, unlike other forklift types where the operator is looking through the mast. Whilst forklift operators are soon at ease working at heights of nine metres plus, for taller lift heights visual aids such as cameras are available.
For lower height storage areas another Bendi machine that Hubtex offers is capable of driving into the back of a truck or a container then straight into a cool room and lift it up to 6.3 metres in height. This is ideal for smaller facilities where it isn’t possible to have too many machines in the limited space.
SERVICING AND SUPPORTING NATIONWIDE
Hubtex offers 24/7 after sales and service support to its customers. Where Bendi Articulated Forklifts are operating in harsh freezer environments, having a strong support service is paramount.
Spare parts are readily available to replace faulty or worn-out components. As a specialist in narrow aisle forklifts, the company’s technicians are highly trained to deal with any eventuality from Hubtex-owned facilities in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane.
“It’s in our core philosophy – to ensure our after sales support is on standby,” notes Bruce. “Being a specialist supplier of Bendi articulated forklifts we can deliver a rental replacement at short notice if a machine breaks down.
“Our technical support networks are well developed in Australia. Senior technical specialists from our branches in the major Australian capital cities provide support to technicians any time of the day or night. Service partners are used in areas outside the major cities to assist customers with warehouses and DCs in rural and regional areas.
“Periodically throughout the year, we’ll go out to the facilities that are far afield and work with the local service partners to ensure that they’re servicing the equipment to the manufacturers requirements and to give them further training.
“Some technicians will spend a day or two travelling around, servicing the areas. It’s important to us that the level of preventative maintenance service on our machines is kept to a high standard that results in fewer breakdowns in the future.”with warehouses and DCs in rural and regional areas.
For more information on Hubtex, click here.